This letter is coming to you from January 2021. You will not believe any of this until it all comes true and I am not going to spend my time convincing you to do so. You will figure it out by yourself, in your own time, as you always do.
I am not here to warn you of impending doom or death. I just want to share some pole tips with you before you start your first class. FYI: there will be a pandemic that gets in the way of your future pole practice. Enjoy the classes for the next six years, because right now I cannot tell you how long it will be until we will return. Or just find a better apartment.
Right now, you are living your best life in college in 2014, doing a course that is not going to get you the career you hope for. You also want a change in your lifestyle, as the take-aways and lack of exercise are getting to you. You are not comfortable in your body anymore, so kudos to you for signing up for your first pole class. This is going to change your life and mental health in so many ways, both good and bad.
You will be happy to know that you will still be doing pole for a long time from now, but it will take a while for you to get your head in the game properly. The first year or so, you feel like your once-a-week class is enough, which makes it a slow start. If you do not exercise regularly, you cannot expect to make any progress. The first thing I want to share, and I cannot stress this enough, is to be patient with yourself. You have not exercised in years, so do not expect to be able to do military push-ups right away. You will soon learn what they are, but do not rush to them either! They are not that much fun, trust me. Take your time in building up strength and adjust your diet accordingly. At this stage, you have also become lactose intolerant - start heeding that signal. Soon, you will buy a pole, but do not wait with exercising until you get it. And please do not buy the 50mm pole. It will be hard to get rid of because nobody will want that size.
Secondly, your genetics may not come with great flexibility, but it comes with great discipline. Regular training is going to get you there. Currently, we are less than a yoga-block-height off the ground! But we could have gotten there earlier if we had kept up regular training for a bit longer. It is not until 2015 that you start doing regular strength & conditioning training at home. I would recommend starting immediately after your first class and please, take that extra hour for flexibility training. Start availing of those Saturday yoga classes and do extra training when you can, even if it is with different schools/instructors. Keep it up for a year and you will be able to get to full splits in 2016. There will be days where we feel like giving up, as if we are not making any progress. That is okay, it is normal. Just like your mind, your body is not the same every day. So do not punish yourself for it, but just keep going, no matter what. Your body is going to do amazing things, but you need to give it time. Be kind to it because it is the only body you will ever have.
And this takes me to my next tip: take pictures! You may not like your body now and think you look ridiculous. But seriously, take those snaps, they will help with accepting your body. It may feel fruitless, but they are not for Instagram, they are for you. I did not take photos from my first year at pole and I really regret not being able to remind myself how much progress I have made.
Another thing that gets in our way, is our own insecurities. There will be times where we feel bad for not being as flexible or as strong as our classmates. Stop comparing yourself to others right away. This beatdown attitude is only a waste of time and gets in your way, especially when you get to your teacher training. That is right: in a few years, you will be asked to become an instructor. It may be for a substitute position, but it can benefit you in so many ways. When this happens, your mental health will not be the best. This is the one thing that is meant to make you happy, but because of your current mental state, it will bring you down and ruin pole for you for a little while. You may get a little overwhelmed and there will be no assigned teacher practice due to lack of time. So, take the time you get for shadowing. Do not be afraid to ask questions. And do not feel bad for not being as strong or flexible as the other teachers: there is a reason you were asked to become an instructor. Take pride in your strengths and use them. Being strong(er) or more flexible does not necessarily make a good teacher. Every instructor has weak spots, but there is nothing you cannot learn. When you feel you need to take a break from pole, take it. Sometimes breaks are needed. You do not have to train every evening. There are certain things you pick up on at once but driving and pole dance do not belong in that category. These are things that need time and patience during regular practice. Give yourself that.
And last, but not least: make friends. Most of the girls you meet during your first classes are going to become your pole buddies. Your current attitude of not looking to make new friends sets you back a little, as there is so much you can learn from these girls. You will not be leaving Ireland as soon as you hope, and these girls will mean so much more to you in 2021. Do not be afraid to let them in a little sooner!
Your slightly more mature, stronger, and lactose-intolerant self in 2021.