About a year ago, I came to terms with the fact that my body doesn’t authentically enjoy one of society’s most praised and “admirable” activities: hitting the gym.

In the back of my mind I knew this for a while, but I kept shoving the realization further and further away from me. I refused to accept that I wasn’t one of the culturally “disciplined” people of the world because I no longer wanted to spend my afternoons lifting weights.

There, I said it.

Go read any other article, and you’re most likely going to read something that goes something like this:

“Women, you don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill racing away like a hamster! Here are four things you can do in the gym instead: 1. Lift heavy weight 2. Do HIIT workouts 3. Eat healthy fats 4. Do only one moderate cardio session per week. See, it’s sooooo easy!”

I’m so sick of reading stuff like that.

I remember when I was trying to receive online validation that I didn’t need to hit the gym anymore, all I read were articles about how women finally found their freedom by not doing cardio for hours every day, and instead started to lift heavy weights.

It wasn’t helping me because I wanted to be done with both of those things.

Stomping my feet like a little princess, I was fed up with the online world not telling me that I could stop doing something I hated. More than that, I was mad at myself for not just stopping the gym obsession on my own. I was tired of seeking outside validation; it was exhausting.

In the same way that I stopped seeking validation from others for what I chose to eat or not, I needed to learn to do the same with my choice of movement (and the same will apply to hundreds of other things I decide later on in life).

Simply stated, I just got tired of talking about how I “think I need to stop going to the gym”…my own voice was starting to drive me crazy. So I just cancelled my gym membership, and signed up for the most fun thing I thought of: pole dancing.

Three months later, I’m doing pole dancing on a regular basis and absolutely in love.

For the first time in my life, I understand the concept of doing a type of movement that makes you happy. When I was little, I hated gymnastics and ballet but I was forced to do it for a few years (cause, I’m a girl so naturally I had to do those things), and then there’s gym class in elementary school (I will say that I was very competitive, so did it all full speed anyways), then high school I ran an hour a day (weight loss begins), then in college did bodybuilding because, hello, weight loss again, and then finally I just said what the hell? All of this isn’t fun.

Why does everybody keep talking about exercise as fun?! Just because I looked like I was having fun, just because I had a six pack, just because I was in the gym twice a day, doesn’t mean I was enjoying it.

You can have the leanest six pack in the world, but if you’re not enjoying “how” you get that six pack, it’s not worth it. Period.

After this realization and quitting my gym membership, I learned that the type of exercise that’s fun isn’t exercise. It’s movement, plain and simple.

If you’re seeking outside validation for whatever you’re doing, it’s probably not the type of movement that’s meant for your mind, spirit and body.

You want to have fun with what you’re doing. And finally, here are 3 ways pole dancing has changed my life:

1. I love feeling feminine.

There’s a masculine edge in every women, and if you’ve noticed that it’s taken the front seat, I urge you to take a step back and analyze the type of activities you put your body through. Is it fun? Is it intuitive? Is it for your six-pack or your heart? Are you doing it for protection? Are you doing it out of fear? Are you trying to receive validation? All good questions, but personally, I’ve realized that since starting pole dancing I want to elongate more and flex less. I want to feel my delicious curves, my ability to dance, perform voluptuous spins, and dare to let go when I’m too afraid to. I no longer want to shrink my body….I want to take up more space.

2. I’m tougher than I ever was “bodybuilding”

What I mean by this is that when I was bodybuilding, I was weak. I was fragile. I was delicate and easy to break both physically, mentally and emotionally. Now that I’m pole dancing, I am stronger, more resilient, and have more focus than ever before. Unlike I did with bodybuilding, I don’t sit between each organized “set” breathing for 90 seconds at a time, texting as I wait for the next set…the minute I jump off the pole, I’m excited to jump right back on. More so, I’ve endured more pain pole dancing than I ever have doing anything else. But a good kind of pain if that makes sense. My skin holds my body up on the pole half the time, and sometimes I just have to let go and trust my skin grabs the pole the way it needs to. This involves pain, and sometimes, a lot of pain. But for some reason…this kind of pain is delicious. It makes me a stronger person mentally and physically, because I want to endure the pain, knowing full well that this pain is my body saving me from falling to the grown while also creating a shape that I feel is beautiful.

3. I don’t go to pole class to get a workout in

That doesn’t seem very intuitive right? Isn’t that why we move our body? To get a work out in? No, in my opinion when something is truly delicious to you, then you don’t go just to “get a workout in.” But how do you know if you’re going just to get a workout in or if you actually do thoroughly enjoy the activity?! I believe you can know this with one simple test. Are there days when you really don’t feel like going to (fill in the blank) and you think all day long about how you “need” to go, or that if you don’t go you’re “lazy” or whatever? And you spend all day long trying to reason yourself into wanting to go? If you’re doing that, then you’re probably not doing something just because you love it; you may be driven by the “need” to go. You might believe that you have to go “or else you’re lazy.”

I’m not saying that I’m perfect and I don’t do this sometimes with pole, but I’m now able to see when I do that. I can pull myself out and say “Hey! That’s not okay. I love doing this because it’s fun, not because I need to burn calories. I obviously don’t want to go today, so I wont.”

Ta da.

I urge you to not feed your desire just to burn calories and to find something that can only be described as delicious to your soul. What does that mean to you?

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