And now for something completely different

From kicking and punching to swinging around a pole – change enough to give a writer whiplash.

It’s funny how fast it turns from ‘I’m pole dancing’ to It’s this foot here and that foot there and ‘wait, what exactly was that move with your hand?’

Because class one is all about getting the basics down, or how to not just stand there awkwardly between awesome maneuvers, which is all about fine motor skills.

It could be subtitled: how to feel like an octopus with epilepsy. The first time you get on the pole and try to do something beyond winging around it, like a pirouette, it will be physically confusing.

So we start with something simple – a pirouette around the pole, and Jenny Phillips, the trainer and owner of Vile Pole, makes it look so easy. Just a quick spin and some pointed toes and it all looks so graceful. Then I grab the pole and try to spin and it’s all ‘This is impossible’ and ‘how did my hand get there?’

Then Jenny gets on the other pole and tries to figure out exactly how everything went so wrong and how did my hand get into that position anyways? Then it’s bit of advice and I’m back on the pole and there it is – a real, sloppy pirouette.

If there’s anything to learn at these entry-level steps, its grace. Think ballet: anyone can spin and jump around, but it takes real talent, a lot of coordination and some serious, muscle to jump and twist in such a beautiful, controlled manner.

Now, I can twist, but it is neither very controlled, nor very beautiful.

So for now, I will concentrate on moving well, but what I’m really looking forward to is the high-flying maneuvers that some of the more experienced members of Vile Pole are doing.

You should see what some of those girls, and a few guys, can do. Between the strength and flexibility needed to do some of the moves, some of them look near impossible.

Those moves, however, will have to wait as I get used to placing my hands and my feet: it doesn’t do to misplace a hand when you’ve hanging upside down three feet in the air.

Of all the clubs I’ve tried so far, Vile Pole was the least intimidating, as most of Phillips’ classes are one on one, and as a result, I wasn’t worried about looking a fool in front of a crowd.

It’s nice to not be on display, which is somewhat ironic considering the sport’s roots.

If, however, you’re not into a one-on-one lesson, or you want to bring backup along, there is room open in Phillips Friday class, which Phillips wants to fill with four people. Or, if you’d rather not meet any strangers, but want to bring a friend along, Phillips teaches pairs as well.

Now there’s a reason Phillips teaches mostly one-on-one classes and I’d guess that has something to do with the sports, um, dress code.

You see, a big part of pole fitness is gripping the pole with various parts of your body. In the same way cloth gloves can impede grip, your clothes do as well.

If you want an idea of the usual clothes worn, think Ursula Andress and Daniel Craig in that iconic (and iconic to be?) shot as they slow motion out of the water in, well, an itsy, bitsy teeny weeny… bit of beach wear.

So while my body has a couple more weeks getting used to this new way of moving before I can go big, my mind has about the same amount of time to get used to the idea of a new uniform before it becomes necessary to continue.

For now, though, I’ll just concentrate on pointing my toes correctly and trying to figure out what, exactly, my hand is doing and ignoring the ribbing from friends.

Jonas Gagnon is a Quesnel Observer reporter.


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