Stories of Impact: Lucky Tunstall
“I accept that change—mental or physical—can be an ongoing process.”
Name: Lucky Tunstall
Location: Cary, North Carolina, USA
Pole dancing for: 5 years
Training Facility: Lucky’s Room LLC
How did you get into pole dancing?
I was in a car accident in 2011. After the accident, I was unable to participate in some of my first loves: dancing, music and exercise. I had to cease all physical activity at the time and became hypersensitive to loud noises, which included music. Both depression and anxiety—including panic attacks—settled in shortly afterward.
When I was finally able to get back into physical activity, I wanted to try a different form of exercise. I tried belly dancing for six months, then took a pole class just for fun while on a trip to Atlanta. I was hooked after that.
What was it about pole dancing that hooked you?
The fact that I found an activity from home where I focused on myself. The hour in class was all about me. I didn’t think about work, what I needed to cook for dinner, daily stressors … none of those things. It was therapeutic. I felt a sense of freedom and empowerment as I challenged my body to do things that I never imagined doing. I honestly enjoyed wearing heels and booty shorts too, as it’s a part of my personality anyway.
Have you noticed a change in your mental health since you started pole dancing?
Absolutely. I am in outpatient therapy and take medication both for depression and anxiety, but I also call pole dancing my therapy. It’s an emotional release for me. Sometimes I dance and cry at the same time. I may dance when I feel sad or anxious. Pole dancing helps to release some of my emotions as opposed to keeping them bottled up inside.
There are times when my family may notice that I’m cranky or irritable. Their advice to me is to go spin or hang upside down on the pole.
Additionally, regardless of whatever mood I may be in prior to teaching a class, I know that I can not exude negative energy in the class to my students. In a sense, I have to snap out of it in order to teach. After teaching, I feel better.
You own a home pole studio called Lucky’s Room. Why did you decide to teach pole dance to others?
I decided to become a pole instructor six months after taking classes for myself. I wanted other women to feel the empowerment, confidence, and physical and emotional freedom that I have been able to get out of pole dance.
What makes pole dancing different/more therapeutic for you than other forms of physical therapy?
I used to do home workouts alone. I never had a gym membership. I’m challenged differently with pole dance as opposed to doing my Denise Austin workouts that I used to love. It may be the combination of music with pole dance because music moves my spirit. I can choose music to work out to based on a particular mood.
The emotional release is such a major part of it for me. I don’t have the same type of emotional release from other workouts that I’ve tried.
Where do you think you would be, emotionally and psychologically, had it not been for pole?
It’s difficult to imagine life without pole. It’s amazing how it’s become a part of me. I can’t say that I would be worse off, but what I do know is that I probably would not have met some of the beautiful people in the pole community who have become my pole family.
I would not have the students who tell me to sit down or take a break when they see that I’m doing a little bit too much.
I would not have a fitness certification that I now use to help my sons, who are both athletes.
There are so many people, experiences, and opportunities that have come my way as a result of pole dancing.
That’s wonderful. Can you think of any other ways pole dance has positively impacted you, or anything else you’d like to share?
Pole dance has made me a stronger woman. I look forward to challenges. I accept that change—mental or physical—can be an ongoing process. There are things that I tell my patients* and have learned it applies to me as well.
I can also climb monkey bars now! I could never do it when I was younger, so after my first year of pole dance, I went to a playground and proved to myself that I could take them on.
*Tunstall works as a staff psychologist and has been in the mental health field since 2004.