June marks 6 months since Elite Fitness opened. I’ve gone back to the drawing board and become a student again, which I am loving (while also teaching a non-pole strength class). After teaching beginner and intermediate for so long, it’s really nice to be on the other end of the student-teacher spectrum and just go back to learning.
Becoming a student again also hits home to me how much I’ve lost physically since taking time off. The uphill climb back to full strength and fitness is mitigated by a bit of muscle memory, thankfully, but my main downfall has been my full indulgence in eating absolutely whatever I felt like in the past. The battle between satiating my stomach and satiating my fitness soul is constant. Perhaps not as bad as fighting Diablo on one of the 13 Torment levels currently available, but comparable.
Anyway, I got to take head and trick shots of our instructors the other weekend. It was an exhausting (and freezing cold) shoot that lasted 5 hours but it gave me new appreciation for several things:
- how wonderful everyone looked, busting out moves either dance based or on the pole;
- how difficult it is to hold positions for long enough to get a good shot; and
- how ‘easy’ wedding and portrait photography is compared to a shoot that requires posing.
As the viewer, all we see is the final, perfectly edited result. That one shot probably took about 15 minutes to get in to. We would have had to push and pull the subject into position. They would have needed to hold the pose perfectly while we man handle them, but then have enough energy to continue holding the pose while I take the shots. Then we might have made the subject make tiny little bodily adjustments. Their skin is probably pulling in awkward ways as they try to grip for longer than a move is usually held for. If they’re upside down, the blood is rushing to their head, their limbs are fatiguing fast, their muscles and core tiring from the contraction. You end up breathless even though you haven’t done anything particularly extraneous. It’s the reason why body builders are left puffed after they’ve done a posing routine at competitions.
People who want to give pole a try are intimidated by the amount of skin you need to expose to get grip. They’re self conscious about their bodies, their abilities, and usually lack of strength. They say things like they need to get strong before trying a pole class, which defeats the point of pole. Doing the pole is what makes you strong. You don’t hire a personal trainer in order to attend the gym; you go to the gym in order to get fit.
All of us, male and female, at some point stopped ourselves before we started. I was shaking the day I walked in to my first class, by myself. The only other student was a guy, and he had had an 18 month head start on me at that stage, back in 2011 (“that guy” actually turned out to be one of my staunchest friends in the poling world, and is our male instructor at Elite too).
Personally I know I am not at my peak physical ability in these photos, neither am I in my peak physical form. I see each of my flaws: the love handles peaking out, the lack of definition around my abdomen, the fullness of my face. But I have enough body positivity and confidence to not have an issue with showing those flaws. I’m sure each of our instructors right now have reservations about their fitness and ability level. But we are ok with showing imperfection. One person’s imperfection is someone else’s perfection anyway.