I remember my first lesson like it was yesterday. I had as much confidence about my body as the size of my clothes. Zero. My bottom was flat, as was my chest. I had no muscles in my arms, a few in my legs from my old horse riding days, but nothing worth talking about.
I hated exercise, of most forms. Suffering from asthma all my life, I have never been one for the cardio workouts. I joined a gym once and gave up after a month. I lacked motivation and excitement.
Once I started pole, I remember when my instructor first said I was ready to invert. How were my skinny little arms going to lift my weight up off the ground? I could barely lift a bag of sugar. I remember feeling extra nervous at this prospect, and no surprises, it took a fair few attempts. Now, I know, some of you are probably reading this with the thoughts - "if you were that tiny, you wouldn't have to lift much weight up." - ok fair point, but what happens when your arm muscles to body weight ratio is on a par, meaning what little weight you have to lift is still a challenge for such small and unused muscles? I rose to the challenge and lifted my weight. I did it! I inverted!
Many times when I am wasting some time on Facebook, or I respond to the messages on the class pages from potential newbies, I read the same comments, over and over. "What size are the other girls?" or "Am I too big to pole?" or "Do I have to strip down because I'm really embarrassed about my weight?"
Well, firstly, I can tell you now, I recently bought my first size 10 item of clothing. Woah! Yeah, ok, size 10 is still apparently below the average for a dress size for a UK woman, but you know what this was a big and initially scary deal for me. I was out shopping with my mum at the time. I tried on my usual size 8 and realised when I moved my arms, the dress pulled across my shoulder blades and was really restricting. I showed my mum who immediately said "I'll go get you the next size up" and returned with a size 8. I then explained that was the size I was currently stuck in. I told my mum to look at my back and she was amazed at the definition and muscle. No, I am no super body building looking girl by any means, but I no longer looked like a pencil.
Now, I am not trying to contradict anything here, I am simply pointing out the wonders that one form of sport/exercise/dance has done for me. I have GAINED weight. MUSCLE! And it's really true. I like chocolate, I am currently waffling down a tube of Mini Eggs while I type this out, and I have a muffin top as a subsequent chain reaction from performing an office job and loving chocolate. I have transformed myself from a skinny flat, cylinder shape to having some lumps and bumps but muscles and curves. And I am happy. I can even beat the lads at work to full-on chin ups now - I'm up to 3 in a row!!
So, all these comments I hear about being too big or too fat, or however you want to put it. So my experience is about being too skinny. And now, I pose the question which is the one we aren't supposed to ask, but I will - "what's the difference?"
Now I have had this debate with people before. Being thin, meant people found it acceptable to call me skinny. Or to say "You should be happy with your figure - it's better than being fat" - but now just for a moment, let's switch that to a bigger lady. Would you feel it was acceptable to call them fat? or to say "You should be happy with your figure - it's better than being skinny." Probably not.
And actually, often as a society, we are guilty for not really thinking about people with a smaller frame. It could be a health reason or state of mind. It could be genetics or just fast metabolism.
Do we ever stop to question how hard it might be for a thin person to strip off a bit or even to attempt to invert?
When I get to pole, and my instructor says "You need your side out for this move", I whip my vest top off and strut about in my crop top sports bra.We all do. No gingerly and gentle folding, who cares? We all have body hang ups. But I implore you all, no matter if you're big, small, thin, large, tall, short, male, female, old, young, give pole a try. Embrace the changes to your body, whether they are what you expected, good or bad. Just be happy and just be you.