by Monica Rouff
Student at Pole Dance Fitness of SWFL, in Bonita Fl.
A year ago October, my younger sister called & told me that she had stumbled onto an ad for a Pole dance studio that had just opened up in a neighboring town. She said the instructor was offering introductory classes for up to 4 people for the price of one, & “wouldn’t it be so much fun to get the girls together and go?” This came at a point in my life when my life was full of turmoil. I was working 12 hour shifts as a 911 dispatcher, going to school part time, & due to an impending divorce with my husband of 6 years, facing life as a single mother, but I was also coming to terms with the fact that my life would be forever changed by a diagnosis I was given the previous year.
So, I thought “why not?”. With everything swirling around in my life, I felt I owed it to myself to do something for ME...even it was only for a day. I had no intention of it ever going past just a onetime thing, a “girls day out”. But, it only took one hour to change that. One hour of learning front hook spins & fireman spins for me to completely fall in love! I immediately scheduled my second class. I was thrilled! I had an amazing time, and afterwards, the burn I felt in the muscles that I didn’t even know I had told me that I was getting an amazing workout. This, for me, was the most thrilling part of all. Getting a great work out while doing something that I love? It was almost too good to be true.
Just on the heels of going into remission from stage two Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I was diagnosed with a rare heart disease called “Non-Compaction”. It’s a relatively new diagnosis, about which not much is known. Basically, a portion of the muscle in bottom of my heart did not form right, leaving groves in which blood clots can form. This disease is known to cause strokes, weakening of the heart, and sudden death. I was implanted with an internal defibrillator, which unfortunately was shocking me regularly for arrhythmias that doctors didn’t originally know was there. So, all of this combined, exorcise was not a top priority. That’s not to say that I didn’t want it to be…but I couldn’t step on a stair master without the worry that my defibrillator would go off. It got to the point where even the doctors told me that “Maybe cardio isn’t the best thing”. Who wouldn’t love a doctor’s excuse not to exorcise, right? Problem was, I gained 80lbs while pregnant with my son, and though he was 5, I still had not lost all of the weight. Dieting wasn’t an option for me, I enjoy food way to much & I don’t even pretend to have the will power. So, exorcise was my only hope…which at the time, didn’t seem like a hope at all. Until, I found pole.
After the first two weeks of pole class, I decided to take it up with my doctor. I was afraid he would tell me that it wasn’t an option & that I would have to give it up. Interestingly enough, the opposite was said. “If you have found a way to exorcise that you’re comfortable with, go for it”. I was concerned that doing inverts would damage my internal defibrillator, but he explained that it wasn’t a worry at all. So, I threw myself into it. I made time in my already busy schedule. I went to class every chance I got. I even saved up bought an X-Pole, which is now proudly displayed in my living room, much to the annoyance of certain family members.
It’s been over a year now, and my life has been completely transformed! As has, I’m proud to say, my body. I lost 25lbs, I gained muscle, and more importantly, I gained self-confidence & self-worth. Amazingly enough, my doctor’s even felt comfortable enough to turn off my defibrillator! I feel amazing! It has had positive impact on absolutely EVERY aspect of my life. I no longer sit around dwelling on my illness, or anything for that matter. If I’m annoyed, frustrated, or upset, I turn to my pole and work out my frustrations. I leaves me feeling energized and refreshed. There is nothing “sick” about me. It’s taught me that I am not my disease, and it doesn’t have to run my life. My prognosis is still unknown, they still don’t know enough about the disease & my particular situation to pass judgment, but I’ve come to terms with that. To be honest, these days, it’s something I rarely give any thought to. Pole fitness has given me that, it’s given me peace. The effect pole dancing & pole fitness has had on my life is absolutely priceless! Definitely worth the hour drive one to two times a week!
What has pole dance or pole fitness given you? What has it helped you to overcome? An illness, perhaps? I’d love to hear your stories!