In an effort to demystify what makes living a #ScaleFreeSummer so meaningful, I’m breaking it down into five major components: Consistency and Commitment, Compassion, Pleasure, Mindfulness, and Goal Measurement. One per day. Gotta keep up. (Thankfully, now that I’m free from school duty, I can finally keep up.) Don’t forget to tweet or instagram all your healthy habits using the #ScaleFreeSummer hashtag! Some of your fellow #bgg2wlarmy fam is already filling up the tag with their awesomeness, you should, too!
When I talked about my very first pole class, lots of people balked at the idea. It’s pornographic, it’s too much like being a video hoe, you don’t have to act like a slut to enjoy yourself, and some other such nonsense.
That’s right – I said nonsense. Get mad.
I’m all for putting on the corporate facade when you’ve got to do it, but to be quite honest, there’s a time and a place for everything. And sometimes, doing things the way you believe society thinks you should do them won’t always be what makes you happy.
Running and crunches won’t work for everyone. Is running inexpensive and efficient? Of course. But what if you are miserable as a runner? What if you hate running through your neighborhood, can’t stand the potential for street harassment, and have a major issue with the way running makes your knees feel? Do you continue doing something that makes you feel miserable, or do you accept that right now – in this moment – it isn’t for you, and choose to find something a bit more… pleasurable?
One of the main things that we tend to overlook – and the one thing that’s been the most fun in dealing with my clients – is the premise of pleasure. The ultimate goal in creating a healthy lifestyle isn’t calorie burn, it’s the perpetuity… the ability to keep up whatever it is you’re doing. What better way to ensure that you “won’t miss” that fitness class, than for it to be a pleasurable experience?
For me, when it came to pole fitness, I never missed a class. Not. Ever. My teacher was awesome, she was accommodating and gracious, generous and supportive of me and my absolute lack of upper body strength. When I moved out of the state, she even encouraged me to buy my own pole and gave me resources to take pole lessons online, of which I gleefully took advantage. I even got my hands on a booty pop class from Vertical Joe’s in Atlanta – which, I’m sure, is now the Twerk Capital of the US – that helped me remain connected to my, ahem, practice.
Why do I keep talking about my pole? (Pause.) This seemingly pornographic thing that I enjoy on my own time taught me a lot about my body and how it functions. For starters, I learned a lot about how the body and its muscles function in concert – I can’t lift my legs without aggravating my arms, I can’t use my arms to lift my body off the ground without incorporating my back, and I can’t do any of the neat flips, tricks and spins that I like without getting stronger… and continual practice was helping me with that.
I wanted to flip. I wanted to spin. And, quite frankly, I wanted to be able to twerk. I had this new body and had no idea how to use it, and what a fun way to learn. I’d never done a single bit of it for anyone else, other than other people in my class who were all there for the same reasons as me.
The pleasure that I derived from being able to do all of these crazy moves was what gave me praxis – the process one uses to connect something they’ve learned to something they live. Learning how to lift myself up of the ground to do a chair spin is literally – literally – no different anatomically or kinesthetically from a pull up, with the basic pulling function being one of the primary movements essential to every day living. The actual movement develops muscle (tones) within the entire body. All from pulling myself up on a pole.
Try an upside down slide. The minute you put your hands down on the ground to catch yourself…it’s the same as a push-up, with the push being another of those essential primary movements. Don’t even get me started on pole sitting. (Pause, again.)
Pole, as much as I love it, isn’t the only example of this. Yoga is another. A chaturanga is little more than a fancy push up; virabhadrasana, a forward lunge (there’s a reason why you always make sure that you do both legs). Tree pose is fun as a balancing pose, until you grab those toes and – yep, you guessed it – pull that leg out to the side. Praxis. Activities that maintain some blatant and obvious connection to your daily life, to the point where you can actually feel those changes. The ability to even develop that praxis, those connections, came from engaging in things I genuinely enjoyed.
The same can be said for aerial silks, Zumba, krav maga, belly dancing, crossfit, socasize, barre, spin, pilates, karate, boxing, hip-hop dance, and beyond – activities that bring you pleasure to the point where you stick with them, and that pleasure allows you to build praxis. You have to be open and committed to finding what works for you, and explore not only the things that [are legal and] make you happy, but things that allow you to develop the progress you desire. Don’t think I’m saying every person has to “twerk sum,” but I am saying that “fear of the unknown” or uninformed pre-judgment has kept us all from doing a lot of things that were better for us, and we should fight to move beyond that.
And, no, I’m not over-simplifying, I’m being serious – you’re always going to burn calories, but you can only ensure consistency one way: by making sure your chosen activity is one that genuinely brings you joy.
Don’t be afraid to explore different classes, and find what sincerely makes you happy. If it’s Zumba, then shake it until you’re out of breath. If it’s boxing, then beat the hell out of your opponent. Find something you enjoy, commit to training for it consistently, and watch not only your body, but your life transform. For me, both pole and yoga changed my body and the way I move it to my advantage, something that was furthered by the sincere pleasure I derived from both (also, how the hell else do you think I snagged my hubby? Ha!) and allowed me to learn and grow into a healthier person. Who could argue with that?