Pole lot of fun – Berkshire Live

When is exercise really fun? When it’s ‘sexercise’. Join City Woman on her quest to find fun and flirty fitness sessions to spice up your regime
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When is exercise really fun? When it’s ‘sexercise’. Join City Woman on her quest to find fun and flirty fitness sessions to spice up your regime
Anyone who says they enjoy exercise is either clutching some kind of medal or telling lies.
Having jogged my fair share of kilometres on the treadmill, I feel justified in making such a sweeping statement.
Burning lungs, sweating all over, legs like jelly – I know that feeling. But in the interests of good health and wearing skinny jeans, we endure.
Yet the rewards are small. In the days after your efforts, your calf muscles still twinge, your buttocks yelp and the skinny jeans still look rubbish.
Surely there’s an exercise out there that is actually enjoyable?
A fitness class to fill your spirit with confidence?
Which is how I found myself at a pole dancing class.
Pole dancing has grown far beyond the realms of gents’ clubs; it’s the activity of choice for hen parties and, increasingly, fitness classes – if you’ve ever watched a professional, you’ll know they need to be pretty fit to swing themselves around like that.
And ‘pole-fit’ goes further than toning your muscles; it teaches you how to be confident which I can’t say I’ve ever felt after a 5km run.
Post colleagues Sarah Dave and Laura Herbert joined me for an evening session with Mandy Horne, who runs Polebabes classes across Reading.
Her poles are portable, so they can be set up at any gym or studio; on this occasion The Club at Mapledurham.
Before any stretches took place, Mandy gave me something of a confidence warm-up.
She explains: “You know that really annoying woman you see out on a Friday night, who really thinks she looks the part? Even if she doesn’t, she thinks she does? Well, that’s just confidence.
“It’s all in your head. It’s about how you walk and how you carry yourself. We like to use the word ‘sassy’.
“We’re always being told not to be sexy, at work, at home – but we show women how to be sexy and sassy anywhere because it’s all about confidence.
“I say to women ‘always wear your heels’. Whether you’re changing the bed or washing the dishes – you might not get a lot of housework done but you’ll feel great.”
Which is what I tried to remember as I pulled on mine. You can’t argue with stilettos.
There were around 30 of us, all facing a long wall mirror, looking pensive. But Mandy was having none of it.
She blasted Nelly Furtado’s Man-eater out of the stereo and made us march towards our reflections in time to the beat. Hands on hips, knees bent – but after several pelvic thrusts, my thighs begin to burn. How will they manage spinning on a pole?
The class is split into four groups with a pole for each and the trained Polebabes then take Mandy’s lead and demonstrate the moves.
Upper body strength is vital to holding yourself up and the key is to keep your dominant hand as high on the pole as possible. It’s actually quite technical, as where your hands and feet are placed ensures you spin in the right direction.
At first it is a bit daunting, striking a pose in front of strangers. But the Polebabes give plenty of advice while you find your feet.
Once I’d got the classic Polebabe spin and the fireman slide mastered my confidence was sky-high – and then Mandy announces a change in the proceedings.
“We don’t normally do this on a taster session, but as we’ve got the EP girls here, we’re going to try and get one of you upside down. Leigh, if you’d like to come forward?”
Eh? Mandy did a quick demo. I was supposed to pull my lower body up and above my head and quickly clutch the pole between my thighs (Mandy says they’re strongest when they’re crossed – ahem).
I suddenly realised how much I was counting on my weedy biceps.
The studio was silent. The lights were hot. I broke Polebabe protocol and ditched my heels to line myself up with the pole.
Right hand high, tummy tight and – heave! Somehow, with a hefty swing and a scramble with my feet, I latched on. I opened my eyes. The world had toppled over – I was upside down!
Fair enough, it wasn’t the most provocative move I’d made all evening, but it gave me a great sense of achievement. I slid down the pole without a shred of grace and promised I’d do it again. That’s never happened on a treadmill…
Fact Box
Polebabes fitness classes take place in venues around Reading.
To book contact Mandy on 07885 445534 or visit www.polebabes.co.uk.
Four-week courses take place at Reflex in Caversham and Rivers in Henley, with venues in Wokingham and Bracknell coming soon.
Individual lessons and parties are also catered for. Contact Mandy for more details.

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