Pole Fitness and My Christian Walk: When God Asked Me To Climb Higher

Pole Fitness and My Christian Walk: When God Asked Me To Climb Higher

I never felt conflicted about teaching pole fitness to women- until God asked me to walk away from it so that I could climb higher.

Five years ago, I walked into a pole fitness studio for the first time- feeling nervous, excited, and more than a little afraid.

I had been in a bicycling accident and had sustained a serious brain injury, and needed to find a new form of exercise. I had seen pictures of beautiful women floating like weightless pixies on colorful strands of silks on social media. Weightless exercise sounded great after a subarachnoid hematoma, so I found a studio that offered aerial yoga classes.  The studio also offered pole dancing classes, so I thought I would give them a try too. 

Then, the unexplainable happened. From the first moment, when my bare foot tentatively touched the warm wood floor, I felt like I was at home. The women welcomed me— flabby, extra-flesh, clumsy me— with open arms. At each class, I was greeted with smiles and encouragement. 

When I walked into that room with its strobing LED lights and throbbing music, I felt like I had stepped into a different world, a world where judgement of my life, my body, my wrinkles, my excess weight— all my shortcomings— did not exist. 

I fell in love with my new friends and this empowering form of exercise.  I went to the studio as often as I could. There were so many bruises scattered over my skin that I began to wonder if greenish purple was my new skin tone.

In my mind I was like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. I waited for my wings.

One day, I was asked to fill in for an instructor. I taught a class, and then another, and, before I knew it, I became a full-fledged pole fitness teacher. It was easy to fall in love with the experience of introducing a frightened, self-conscious woman to the aerial arts. I adored watching each woman’s transformation from the outside, and wondered whether my journey had been as beautiful to watch.

The experience was never cheap, tawdry, slutty or pornographic to me.

The five years I spent in the pole studio, both as a student and a teacher, were some of the most pure and joyful experiences of my life. Every woman in the studio, no matter what her life was like outside of the mirrored walls, was on the same level while in the studio.  We were ALL friends and, members of the same family, a pole family. We supported each other through breakups, job changes, deaths and illnesses.

As a Christian, I never felt conflicted about my pole fitness routine. I knew that other Christians may have a problem with how I spent my free time, but I never felt conviction from the Holy Spirit to make a change. Until a few months ago.

Five years is a long time. That’s 1,825 days, and some of those days brought huge changes for me. As the sun rose and set almost two thousand times, I began having this little pricking in my spirit.  Each time I taught class, I would feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, like I didn’t fit. I would return home thinking that I simply needed to prepare more for my students, gain strength, and learn better tricks. After more preparation, my discomfort only grew.

Finally, I began to pray for God’s will in this area of my life, and His voice called to me gently. In fact, I couldn’t really make sense of what I was hearing at first; but I knew needed to ponder this situation, pray about it, consider it.  And so, I vowed to open my heart to God and listen to what He had to say. I promised Him that I would wait patiently for His answer.

He probably laughed because He knew me well enough to know that patience had nothing to do with it.

And then one night, through quiet bedtime prayers, He answered. He called me to walk away from the studio where I had spent so many wonderful days. My safety net. “Why, God?” I asked.  “You know my heart.  I wanted to be a light there, God.”

He answered, “Yes, but I created you to be a light elsewhere.”

I sat there, waiting for the rest of His answer in the darkness of my room. But, no explanation came.

He gave me no revelation on how what I was doing was wrong, or that I wasn’t properly glorifying Him with my body.  He didn’t condemn me or the fact that I loved to teach women how to feel beautiful in their own skin. He didn’t rebuke me for the music I chose or how I moved the body He gave me.

He simply asked me to climb higher.

I miss my girlfriends and the classes I taught.  I miss the sureness of knowing that if I show up at the studio on a Tuesday, there will be a group of women smiling at me, ready to laugh and sing and dance with me until my body is bruised and exhausted. I miss the known, and I fear the unknown.

But, He asked me to go, and this time, I listened and want to obey. 

I will forever cherish my time at the studio. Each woman with her character, her spirit and her God-given beauty, is etched into my memory— pressed into my spirit like a flower preserved as a reminder of a precious moment.  In a way, I take each of them with me on this journey.  May the words that I feel the urge to share forever be my dance for them.

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