This post is partially a review of The Watermelon Studio and a little bit about body confidence.
It took me just over a year to tell anyone outwith my closest friends and partner that I was doing Pole fitness. I feel a little silly about that now. I had nothing to be afraid of.
As a child I did gymnastics and then in my early twenties did a bit of acrobalance. I have always enjoyed throwing my body about and contorting myself into weird and wonderful shapes. Due to work commitments and shift patterns I soon found myself with no time left for these things. Time flew by, I’m now almost thirty and found all I did was work work work.
A few years ago a friend started teaching pole. She opened The Watermelon Studio. I had wanted to try pole for a while. To me it looked like gymnastics mixed with dance and a little bit of flying! But quite a few things held me back. Firstly, I was terrified of those skimpy outfits! I have never had any confidence in my body’s appearance. Not only would I feel a little vulnerable learning something new, I would also be doing it whilst half naked!
Weeks went by. Daily I would see pictures on my Facebook feed of students learning new moves and people posing on poles. My desire to join grew and grew. Finally a new shift pattern was introduced at work that meant I could start attending these classes. It would be infrequent but it would be a start! I had to push past this mental block and get my chubby cheeks into a pair of shorts. So I did.
I booked my place, bought a pair of small,high-cut shorts and a strappy top (I also spent about an hour in the bath that night removing every single hair follicle from my body!) I was ready to go.
I was one of the first students to arrive. It was a little unclear what I was supposed to do at first. I took a seat at the reception area. Another student arrived shortly after, she said hello and asked if I was new. When I said yes, she then led me to the changing rooms and explained after changing, then you sit in the waiting area.
The other girls emerged from the changing room one by one. We were all different sizes and shapes. One thing I quickly learned is that everyone has their hang ups! I was chatting away in no time and completely forgot about being self-conscious.
The atmosphere was probably the most surprising thing to me. During the class, not only was the instructor Gwen, extremely positive and encouraging, but so were each of the other students! I have never felt that kind of support whilst doing any other sport. Each class I have attended, regardless of level, has been filled with people offering advice and compliments. The Watermelon Studio are also big on people photographing and recording their personal progress, which I think is fantastic. Often these pics can show you where you are going wrong (something you might not be able to quite workout for yourself whilst hanging upside down from your knees!).
You share the pole on average with two or three other students. Each of you take it in turn to do a few moves on both your left and right side. As the class only lasts an hour, I used to think “I kinda wish it was just one person to a pole, I could get in much more practise”. Well one day I got my wish. A few people failed to turn up and I had the pole to myself. After twenty mins of continuous spinning and inverting, I felt absolutely exhausted and really quite motion sick. You need those few minutes inbetween moves, trust me!
After a few classes I started to feel far more comfortable with myself. I also learnt that I don’t have to remove every hair from my body the night before class. There are girls there who opt not to shave at all which I was happy to see. I tend to shave or wax anyway, however I don’t panic now if my legs are looking a little stubbly lol. I also realised that no one is looking at you, no one is judging you. Everyone is concentrating on their own moves, nobody cares how your stomach folds or how your ass wobbles, this isn’t high school.
People do these classes for many different reasons. Whether its to gain self-confidence, for fitness, flexibility, work or purely just for fun, whatever your reason I highly recommend The Watermelon Studio.
Photography by: Millie Robson