Everything you need to know before your first pole dance class

Twisted Pole in Nottingham, UK.

(An updated version of this post is available here)

I went to my first pole dance class in November 2017 and being the socially anxious quivering wreck that I was back then, I spent a whole week scouring the internet for blog posts and articles on what I could expect in my first class. I felt I needed to mentally prepare myself for throwing myself into a new activity, particularly something that seemed so extroverted, and with a new group of people.

The practical stuff

What to wear:

There’s thousands of different studios out there, and so many variations in how they teach and what kind of classes they put on, so take my advice with a pinch of salt here. If in doubt, contact your studio to find out the specifics.

What to bring:

The essentials are a bottle of water/squash and a badass attitude.

What to eat:

Get a hearty snack at least an hour before class — you’re going to need the energy! My go-to is a protein bar as it keeps me full through the class from the protein, has a good amount of slow-release carbs to keep my energy levels up, as well as a bit of sugar to make it tasty. Anything with slow release carbs is a great pre-workout snack though.

What not to do:

For the love of all things good and pure, don’t moisturise on the day of your class.

During the class

You won’t be graceful, and that’s okay!

Don’t expect that on your first lesson you’ll nail everything straight away and you’ll be completely elegant and graceful. That comes with time, practice and dedication. What is important is that you listen to your instructor, as they’re there to help you through the moves and keep you safe. Don’t rush through anything, take your time, and breathe.

This is your time. Own it.

There are many reasons why you might have chosen to take a pole dance class. Maybe you were like me and needed to get out of a rut. Maybe you want to lose some excess fat. Maybe you want a really fun strength workout. Maybe you want to dance in a new and interesting way that you’ve never tried before. Whatever the reason, enjoy your time at the studio. Take this time to connect with your body and engage with it. Find what movement feels good, enjoy it and work with it. Making the decision to come to a pole dance class is a radical act of self-love and self-care, so take this time to treat your body well, listen to it and respond to its needs.

Don’t take yourself too seriously…

I fall on my butt A LOT. I’m a clumsy person at the best of times and coming to a pole class will teach you movements that your body isn’t used to, particularly if, like me, you’re coming into it without a great deal of fitness.

…but do take your instructor seriously and know your limitations.

Your instructor is there to keep you safe and help guide you through the crazy world of pole dance. Listen to them when they tell you how to do a move, and if they suggest improvements, listen. Check your ego at the door. They’ve been training for a lot longer than you and are trained and insured to teach you, so they know how to keep you safe and prevent you from getting injured during the class.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Your instructor is there to guide you through the moves, so if something isn’t working for you, ask! They’ll have been doing pole for years and will be able to guide you towards nailing whatever it is you’re working on. Sometimes all it takes is a simple adjustment of where your leg or arm is or engaging a different group of muscles. Your grip strength, the style of grip you’re using, the side you’re practicing on and even the temperature and humidity of the studio can make all the difference. Trust me, some moves are just easier on one side than the other. It’s weird, but you’ll get to know which is your ‘good’ side, and which is your ‘bad’ side when you get more practice in. Just make sure you train both of them!

Have fun!

I know it sounds a bit cliché, but at the end of the day, paying for a class that you don’t enjoy is the WORST. I’ve put myself through too many cardio classes that I didn’t enjoy before I came to pole, and there’s nothing less motivating than dragging yourself to a class you’re not looking forward to. Give the class everything you’ve got, have a laugh with what you’re doing and with the other students, and dip your toe into the world of pole dance. Who knows, you might get addicted like the rest of us!

After your class

Eat a hearty meal, and enjoy a nice soak or shower.

Make sure you eat a healthy meal with plenty of protein to rebuild your muscles. I’ve found consuming a good amount of protein after a particularly heavy class helps to reduce how bad and how long your DOMS lasts the next few days. It’s also a good idea to soak your muscles in a nice warm bubble or epsom salts bath, or take a nice warm shower, particularly if this is your first class, because…

DOMS, glorious DOMS!

DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, which as you can imagine, means your muscles are going to ache for a while following your workout. What’s actually happening in your body is that it’s repairing the microtears in the muscle fibres caused by your workout — don’t worry, this is a good thing, and this is why you need plenty of protein as it helps to build your muscles back up.

Bruises!

Or as we like to call them, pole kisses.

I'm a pole dancer, gamer, animal nerd and gloriously awkward.

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