A-Z List of Pole Dancer Problems That Prove What We Do Isn’t Easy
“Pole is pretty, but it comes at a price.”
I will always remember those words from one of my first pole instructors. It’s what she told our beginner-level class when we were complaining about our newly formed hand blisters.
When you first start pole dancing, it’s difficult to imagine just how much your body will change as you advance, not only in terms of muscle definition, but with marks that remind you of the limits you’re constantly pushing yourself to.
Every bruise and callus is a sign of dedication, and we all know how frustrating it can be when non-polers fail to recognize how difficult the sport truly is.
No one should ever make you feel the need to explain yourself or defend pole as a creative outlet, but if you find yourself in this position, and don’t want to waste another breath discussing the complexities of pole to an over simplifier, perhaps you should show them this (almost) A to Z list of things pole dancers experience instead. That way, they can get a feel for what we willingly endure for the sake of something we love.
Cuts, scrapes, scratches … every time pole dancers fall down, accidentally jam an 8-inch heel into their bodies, or forget their kneepads, they risk getting a gash.
On the hands, on the feet … repeatedly rubbing up against a steel pole will do that to you.
Some people like to buff their calluses, pole dancers gladly welcome them. That’s because tougher areas mean less sensitivity, which in turn leads to more comfortable grip. Basically, when we sign our life away to pole, we pay the price of smooth hands and feet.
Pole dancers need to take a more active role in their skin care than the average non-poler. Why? Because you can’t be coated in lotion when climbing up the pole (unless you want to slide right back down), and the grip solutions we use are meant to dry us out.
I could reserve each letter for specific parts of the body that pole causes to ache, but I’ll save them for the really painful ones. Imagine squeezing the inside of your elbow to support your whole body as it hangs underneath you. Painful, huh?
It’s not enough for pole dancers to execute all of these really intense tricks that require an immense amount of coordination and strength. We also need to manage to make them look graceful, which helps with pointed toes. It’s not uncommon to see us wobbling away from the pole with a foot cramp after holding the point for too long.
Pole dancers who start off with a fear of heights tend to get over it pretty quickly when they’re constantly performing gravity-defying tricks 10-plus feet in the air.
It’s a phrase I hear pole dancers toss back and forth all the time, especially when it comes to competing. Since pole is such a subjective sport with many different elements involved, it’s all too easy for pole dancers to question their own talent when viewing another’s, even when they get recognized for it. In reality, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses, but it can be difficult to realize that sometimes.
Pole dancing isn’t just about being on the pole. In addition to other things, we train our flexibility, which can in turn lead to sore joints that are pushed to the limit.
Just because a pole dancer’s gym consists of poles rather than standard fitness equipment, doesn’t mean we don’t experience a full-body workout that our muscles need to recover from. (Have you seen the arms of a pole dancer?)
Remember when I mentioned elbow-grip soreness? Well, imagine doing that same activity over and over until your nerves literally become numb to the pain. That’s how we’re able to smile when holding those types of moves.
Pole has a funny way of inserting itself into a dancer’s daily life, even if we practice once a week. If we’re not watching pole-dance videos on Instagram, we’re frantically jotting down choreo notes that randomly come to mind, thinking about how to nail that trick we’ve been working on, humming the songs our friends practiced routines to, or having pole dreams.
Otherwise known as bruises. (We need an endearing term for the regular guests on our bodies.)
Remember when you were younger and you’d spin around really fast before a game of tag so you’d be super disoriented when you had to catch the other players? Remember when it felt as though you could barely walk afterward? Welcome to the feeling a pole dancer has the first time they experience spinning pole. For some, that feeling never really goes away. We just power through it.
Here’s another letter dedicated to an especially painful spot. In some moves, the pole hugs your ribs so tight it can feel like the wind is being knocked out of you, especially when you’re still trying to master them (here’s looking at you, jallegra).
Grip aid not only dries out a pole dancer’s skin, but certain kinds can be super sticky (hi, iTac). LOL if you think that stuff leaves our bodies with just soap and water.
Like any other athletic sport, if you don’t train properly, you risk damaging your body. Most polers have a dominant side for tricks, and when we don’t train the other side (which can make us feel like baby polers all over again), we can become more susceptible to injury.
Even if neglecting our non-dominant side doesn’t result in serious injury, it definitely causes uneven strength. The same pole instructor who dished out the wise words I mentioned earlier also warned us that if we didn’t train both sides, we’d have one Pop-Eye arm and one puny arm. I’m typing most of this with my Pop-Eye arm.
See: obsession. Withdrawal tends to happen when we’re away from our poles for too long, which can lead to some serious mood swings. When you suddenly stop working out, you can start to feel cranky and lethargic. Top that with an inability to release creative energy, and you’ve got one bitter poler.
Butt zits, to be exact. Jacq the Stripper talks about this phenomenon in her blog, but when dancers are constantly leaning on poles and sliding butt-first across the floor, they’re bound to get some clogged pores.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a few letters short (I mean, really, what could I have used for “X”?), but I could come up with dozens of other experiences we endure that aren’t restricted to certain letters. However, if the non-poler in your life can learn about all of these scenarios and still not consider the sport to be legitimate, then they may never get it.
That’s OK, they don’t need to. Because what we do is for ourselves. Not for anyone else.