If someone would have said to me six months ago that I’d be pole dancing at a half-decent standard and hanging upside down just by the back of one kneecap and an armpit, I think I may have laughed in their face and told them to stay off the drink. Lo and behold here I am, addicted to pole fitness and spending more and more of my time thinking of new ways to cling to the pole for dear life in a way that looks even remotely graceful.

It all started when the JLN studio appeared just a 30 second walk from my front door. Immediately it piqued my curiosity and over the course of the next few days I saw reports of a ‘grand opening’ on Jess’ Facebook page. As a street and hip-hop dance teacher I naturally have thirst to learn new styles of dance, but I can honestly say that pole dance and pole fitness were things that have NEVER even crossed my mind until then.

After finally building up the courage to speak to Jess, she organized for me to come to my first lesson and give pole fitness a go. I don’t think I could have prepared myself for what was coming next, and despite the initial ‘pole burn’ that every fledgling pole dancer has to go through I loved every second of it. Since then I’ve increased my lessons to two a week; sometimes three when I’m feeling adventurous. I have such an amazing time there and I really have felt welcome from the moment I stepped into the doors.

I must admit the first few lessons were a real struggle for me on both a physical and emotional level. Being the only guy to attend JLN was certainly a difficult thing for me to address at first – after all the pole-fitness scene is primarily dominated by women. I felt awkward, clumsy and very ungraceful for a few weeks – in fact I still get those feelings now from time to time. The difference now is that I know it is all temporary, and that Jess and the girls will be there to sort out my posture, work on my technique and build my strength with me every step of the way.

It is needless to say that I got several strange looks from friends and family when I told them what I was up to, and very surprised looks when I started showing them pictures of what I’m capable of doing. Over time, this has helped dispel the illusion of pole fitness that a lot of people have in their minds. It is often affiliated with a more ‘erotic’ image, and sadly a lot of people are put off by this taboo. To anyone – male or female – who is remotely interested in pole dance or pole fitness I say this: Go for it! It is the best thing I have ever done and probably ever will do.

Jess, Maria, Remi, Laura and Michelle are all amazing instructors, and I have been so inspired by their skill and dedication that I now would love to become a pole fitness instructor one day. I’ve done things I never even thought I could do, and have even taken part and won a pole dance competition hosted in a nightclub thanks to these girls. Admittedly that might just have been because I tore off my jeans before getting on the pole, (you can’t pole dance without skin to grip!) but either way it is something I am proud of.

Since I started as the first official male student at JLN, more have followed suit and just given it a go which I really commend them for. I say you need to throw your inhibitions aside and just try it – after all I am quite a big lad myself and hardly the most elegant of people to grace the pole. It isn’t about how strong you are, how thin you are, how bendy you are, or anything else like it – it’s about how hard you try and trusting yourself. Pole fitness has changed my entire outlook on life for the better, so to quote a good friend of mine and a true inspiration: ‘Be fit, feel alive’.

By David Charlton, Westhoughton Bolton UK


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