If you had told young me that I would go from being a radio jock to a pole fitness instructor and studio owner, I would have laughed in your face. Ten years ago, pole wasn’t even considered a sport in the Philippines. It was an extremely new fad that I decided to try out just for the heck of it. But as it turned out, I fell in love with the sport, with the community around it, and the enlightenment that came with embracing such a physically demanding sport.
Pole is where I met the most wonderful group of strong, amazing women; in less than a year, we became an official group and put up our own school called Polecats Manila.
From having to rent spaces just to hold a pole class or two, we now have our own studio and have added a plethora of classes to our repertoire, included aerial hoop and aerial silk. We turn 10 years old this year, and the past decade has given me some of the most valuable experiences in my life, both as student and as a coach.
1. Just go for it.
A lot of people are afraid of trying pole because they don’t feel strong enough or flexible enough or sexy enough. But the thing is, these are not requirements for beginning your pole journey. As with any fitness endeavor, we want you to come and get stronger with us. We want to help you get to where you want to go, and we want to do it together. The only requirement we have before you can start your pole journey is that you check your inhibitions at the door.
2. Sexy is a state of mind.
Being fit may be quantifiable, but I truly believe that being sexy begins in your mind. Feeling fine in your skin; loving your build, your shape, your height, your color – this is what makes you sexy. It’s not a definition that people can impose on you, it’s something you have to believe to attain. Love what you’ve got, and everyone else will follow suit.
3. Your body can do so much more than you think it can.
One of my most favorite moments during a class is the look on a student’s face after they’ve nailed a trick or a spin. That look of surprise and pride, sometimes matched with a squeal of glee- it’s my reward as an instructor. People really don’t know just how capable they are until they try it, and push themselves a little further with each class. It’s phenomenal. Treat your body right, train it diligently, discipline it consistently, and you’ll find yourself doing things you never once thought you would ever be able to do.
4. Look at the big picture, but take small steps.
This might be the biggest lesson I’ve learned as a teacher. If you want to achieve a certain trick, you can’t just jump straight into it; that’s how you get injured. No one can invert on a pole perfectly on their first try. You need to first learn how to grip, then how to lift your legs off the floor, understand which muscles to engage, then work towards getting strong enough to invert, and finally get your toes to touch that pole. You understand what your end goal is, and you take the steps you need to take to get there.
5. Learn from your mistakes.
The saying is so true- experience is the best teacher. We have had the studio running for 10 years now, but we didn’t get here without a lot of stumbling around. Aside from training physically, we also had to learn how to manage our classes, the studios, and especially our finances to make sure that we are always running like clockwork.
I never knew how much work it took to keep a fitness studio going! The biggest financial leap we’ve made was deciding to expand from one studio space to three working spaces. This means we had to add more classes, train more instructors, and acquire more students. Our overhead automatically tripled, and it wasn’t without its challenges. But after years of studying the yearly financial trends of the industry, and a lot of faith, we decided to push through with it, and the studio has never thrived more than it does today!
We’ve made mistakes, but we learned from each one, and adjusted each time. We learned to invest in the right equipment, workshops, training, and even managed to expand our space from one studio to three. It hasn’t been easy, but here we are!
I’m glad I took that pole class, all those years ago. It’s taught me to believe in my own capabilities, to accept that some things will take work and take time, and that life is always more fulfilling when you’ve got the right people around you.