Last week I wrote about my nemesis move, and my battle both physically and mentally with overcoming something I felt my body could just not do.
This week, I was bouncing on the spot after teacher Andi announced we'd be working on my favourite move, the Aleysha. Hours and hours of practice at home, and this move and every Liz-styled variation of this move had been mastered...or so I thought.
There was always something about my love affair with this move that bugged me; my dismount. My struggle to get into an Iron X (which I had tried, and failed, many times.) My messy and awkward hand placement which just did not flow. And my totally ugly reattachment to the pole which resembled a lizard on a hot tile.
Waiting for pole class in my Destroyer leggings - who said you can't be a pink fluffy robot?! Click here for yours
Stretching followed into spiral spins, which followed into another pretty little move, and then our Aleyshas.
"You place your hands like this," Andi explained as she slowly and precisely positioned her hands to the pole and shifted her weight gently away. And there it was, as I realised my mistake all along - I love this move, but I've learnt it wrong.
Her descent was perfect; she's one of those pole beauties who floats like a feather to the floor. I would be lying if I said I wasn't already in awe of this human - and her patience for all twelve of her students all grumbling away on the hot summer day, some after long stints at jobs or at home watching children.
My pole buddies this week were fantastic - one was experienced in all moves we did, one wasn't so confident. This mismatch of experience was ideal; feeling you were learning from one and helping the other. The encouragement factor in the room yet again for the third week was strong, and I felt a little more like I belonged as part of this little family, and I wasn't just an outsider or the 'newbie' so much.
"That's great, that's amazing, that's fantastic!" Andi's voice carried over the murmurs and chats of the class as we all worked at perfecting our extended butterflies and aleyshas. She skipped over to me.
"So, you need to invert on your other side."
Here comes the truth. I'd been to class previously for years. I'd put in 15 hours of practice weekly. But I'd always without fail avoided the disaster that would be an invert on the opposite side. It had taken me long enough to master it on the right side, I wasn't planning on trying that on my weaker side anytime soon.
"I'll be honest, I never bothered trying to invert on my left side at my previous classes," I mumbled. Andi replied, "Well you're here now. You're doing an invert on this side."
She may be a pint-sized pole professional, but her steady gaze and slight arch of eyebrow told me in no less than 2 seconds that yes, I was doing this invert.
I did the invert. I did the move. I don't know how, and I don't know why I am finding that I can suddenly 'do' all these moves I couldn't do before. Every lesson I've managed something that I used to dismiss - can't do that. The honest truth is, and I'm sure many pole addicts will agree with me, my awful attitude was the problem - I wouldn't do that.
Why bother doing something that I know I can't do? Perhaps my problem all along is that I haven't had someone like Andi to tell me that I can do and I WILL do it. And she's going nowhere until I've done it. And there the magic happens...and I pop my cherry on yet another struggle that's affected my pole confidence and ability.
Two of my class members practising handstands in the corridor before lesson. I can't do a handstand at all - but I'm putting money on Andi finding this out and having me cartwheeling next week!
From our Aleyshas (now with the understanding that my hands were in all the wrong places), we could work on the Iron X. The most beautiful and powerful move in my eyes, and one I was so desperate to master; the dismount to the floor and not back to the pole. I felt my body working with Andi's instructions and with the support of my amazing pole buddies. I'm not sure after a long day at work how I'm taking it all in - learning the moves again, the safe and correct way. But something about these girls and guys and the way they support each other is making me listen and learn quicker than I ever have done, and also believe in my own abilities however small they are.
My aleysha before I descended into a rapid and sloppy Iron X
I think the proudest moment of the class this week wasn't what I could do; pole class isn't about just one person. It was watching my pole buddy in the same position I was in - "I've never done it. I can't do it." And there she was, doing her thing. Watching someone else under the spell of all this metal magic was just awe-inspiring, and knowing that surge of flushed pride as she emerged from her successful fourth attempt. It was just as beautiful to watch someone else achieve as it is to feel you achieve yourself.
Andi with my pole buddy this week, mastering the descent into Iron X. Her first proper attempt. Look at that smile!
I could write for days on the positivity, teamwork, fun and family environment in this room, but you all know that from my previous blogs. I hope these shots speak for themselves. Leaving a small room with such hope for the next lesson, mind furiously filing away new moves and tips learnt, and pride of what I achieved in my hour; who could ask for more?
Finally, as I thanked Andi for her class, she stepped forward with her trademark grin, and extended her arms for a hug. For a minute, I felt part of her family of little "cherries". I'm sure I frustrate her with my lack of confidence and rushed moves, clueless face or struggle to work out what side I'm doing what move on with which hand. But even so, for that moment I felt loved for being my awkward and messy pole-self. And I want to go back for a slice more of this awesome Cherry Pole Pie.
With thanks to Andi and the class at Active Cherry, Eastbourne
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