Dancer Story: Alexandria (Ali) Smith

My name is Alexandria (Ali) Smith. I was always an overweight kid growing up – trying numerous diets and pills never really worked for me. My parents’ divorce in 2002 was an emotional life event for me and it caused me to pile on even more weight and it was during these years that I struggled the most. I was bullied by people, especially guys.  One thing that I will never forget is walking down the hallway and being told by someone that I should wear flashing lights to inform everyone that an “oversized load” was heading their way. I never had a date and while I did have great friends and tried to enjoy life, I was really putting on a façade. I remember the worst, most embarrassing thing was having to order an XXL graduation cape last minute because I thought the standard ‘one size fits most’ would fit me. Talk about mortifying! A couple of years went by after high school and I had had enough. While I tried to lose weight by eating better, nothing really worked. I tried doing basic exercise but even that was painful due to having so much weight on my small body. I completely quit drinking and all carbohydrates and lost 15 pounds…but of course, I plateaued.

On November of 2009, I made a huge decision that would help me get my life on track. At 5’1.5 and having 310 pounds on my small frame, I knew I was killing myself so I decided to have the Lap Band surgery. It is basically a band that wraps around the top part of the stomach and can inflate to cause restriction, which helps me eat smaller portions. One thing to keep in mind is that while I could have had Gastric Bypass, it was too extreme for me. The Band can be removed while Gastric Bypass cannot. Even though this was a weight loss surgery, don’t get the idea that it was an “easy way out” to lose weight. The Band is a tool that helps to lose weight. In fact, I lost around 60 pounds and then plateaued again. While trying to do cardio at 245-250 pounds, it was tough. I hated it. Who is going to like working out and lose weight when you don’t enjoy your workout?

Then, one day while on Facebook I saw a picture of a girl doing this awesome flag trick on a pole. I was super intrigued but thought there would be no way I’d ever do something like that. I finally got the guts to look into it more and on January 3rd 2011, my life was changed physically and mentally forever. I found pole fitness. I started at 245 pounds and I’ll be honest, I was extremely nervous. Everyone in the class was a lot smaller than me. I almost wanted to run away because I was so embarrassed. But something told me that I was strong and capable enough to overcome anything, even though I couldn’t lift my own body weight off the ground to do a cool spin if my life depended on it. It was frustrating! After that one hour class, I was addicted. If it weren’t for the amazing pole instructors I wouldn’t be doing it still to this day. Pole has enabled me to get in shape because I have to use every muscle in my body. It takes a lot of upper body strength and while it is challenging and there may be certain moves I can’t do very well, it’s working my body and the inches are melting away. That sore feeling became something I craved and while I was having fun in class, my pants started feeling looser. Now, why do I love it more than anything? Because every time I would go, there would be some improvement, whether it be lifting my toes off the ground for a split second or two, or being able to do 25 crunches instead of 15 the last time. Pole, for me, is so much more exciting than going to a public gym and having the super fit people stare at you or getting irritated because you are on “their” machine. I can feel confident in myself like I never was before.

Now, I am currently certifying to teach Jennifer Wilkin’s JW Core Pole Method in Utah (www.polefitnessut.com or www.facebook.com/poleexpression) which I’m hoping will help lure women who are too shy or nervous about starting because they think they can’t do it or that they are “too heavy”. I have been there! I am also sharing my pole weight loss journey on Facebook (www.facebook.com/xzandriasmith). Words cannot express how blessed I am to have come this far. I personally want to thank Studio Soiree and Pole Expression for all of the love and support and for encouraging me to keep going. As Alethea Austin says: “Push Past”: it has a strong meaning for me when it comes to my pole and weight loss journey.

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