I pole dance. Don’t judge me.

Let’s face it. Once your friends, family and coworkers figure out you’re taking pole dance lessons, you’re gonna get comments.  Weird looks. Maybe some palpable discomfort that screams:

OMG YOU MUST BE LEARNING TO STRIP!

While I have mad respect for the women who earn a living working the tip rail, pole dancing in a fitness setting is not the same as stripping. But we can’t ignore the connotation.  Here’s how I’ve learned to roll with it.

My kids hate it

I took my first class with a bunch of girlfriends, so no judgment from them, I work remote for an out-of-state company, so my boss and coworkers weren’t an immediate concern.  My husband supported me 100 percent, happy that I was trying something completely out of my comfort zone.

The biggest challenge?  My teenage sons. They were 15 and 16 when I started — and they were mortified. I hated the idea of them being embarrassed (I was 47 years old. And their MOTHER for god’s sake!), I was not about to stop classes. In fact, I upped the ante by purchasing annual unlimited pass.  Thrilled they were not

My older son came around first. He’s an accomplished park skier and I explained that pole fitness was built progressions, just like freeskiing. In other words, learn one skill, now make it harder. Got that one down? Now add this!  I could understood why he found slopestyle so rewarding and addictive – and I think it clicked for him. Plus, he’d been to the studio (albeit reluctantly) but he could not help but take a spin on the pole, and laugh.

“I don’t mind that my mom pole dances,” he admitted to an instructor .“But I hate it when she asks my friends’ moms, to come too!”  

That’s way too much mom in pole shorts. I get it.

The younger son is still not a big supporter. He’s into soccer – no obvious pole parallels there. He routinely called the studio “stripper school,” and would ask over dinner “are you taking beginner stripping tonight, or intermediate stripping?”  Imagine the look on his face the first time he saw me in heels. He’s still not happy about it. And it’s been four years.

It’s all about the connotation

Shortly after I started, I went to a high school dance competition. I noted that the floor work they were doing was exactly the same stuff happening in the pole room. Let me repeat: a high school dance team.  But stick a pole in front of you, and some people will see it differently. Something risqué. Something that makes them uncomfortable.

That’s why when you post videos or pictures (and you SHOULD post videos or pictures), you might get comments from people trying to be funny, suggesting that you, too, are in stripper school. When does your shift start?  You moonlighting now? Can I get a private dance?  

Hardee-har-har-har.  Roll with it, my friends. I usually respond with something like:  Gotta pay the bills! I have two kids in college! But the registrar’s office isn’t too happy getting tuition payments in singles.

Like I said before, I didn’t have to worry about my coworkers; I do post photos and talk about poling on Facebook, it’s no secret. I understand why many of want to stay discreet. But as your skills and confidence grow, you may find that concern fading away.  Remember: your pole dancing, not stripping, right?

A corner turned?

Last year, my husband bought me a pole for Christmas. A beautiful 45mm chrome X-Pole.  I love it. A few weeks ago, my younger son spent the weekend at home while we were out of town. When I returned, I noticed a pile of Dorito crumbs against the wall. And then it clicked: he had friends over and they were playing on my pole.

He would never admit it, but I think he’s coming around…

Have you been shamed, judged or otherwise called out on your pole adventures? Tell us about it in the comments, and then schedule a class and we can talk about it in person.