I’m Karen Daly and in November 2008 following the breakup from a relationship I was getting truly fed up of spending too many evenings playing on facebook and scoffing chocolate. I decided if I wanted to get out of the house rather than be the size of it I’d better do something about it! Someone sent me an invitation to join a dance group on facebook. I couldn’t really see myself doing that but I searched through their profile and found JLN Pole Fitness Westhoughton or Pole Fitness Westhoughton as it was then. Ideal! Something different and just up the road from me. But could I do it? Aged 45, pretty unfit, slightly overweight, very little rhythm and no dance skills whatsoever. I messaged Jess and asked what she thought. She said as long as I was in good health it would be no problem and if I came the following evening she would do a one to one with me. First reaction Woah! I don’t think so! But then I thought go for it if I don’t do it now I never will. I went along to the class feeling very nervous not really knowing what to expect. I was greeted by a very confident and very able 15 year old who put me at my ease. I must confess that had I known how young Jess was at the time I booked the appointment I wouldn’t have gone and that would have been a huge, huge mistake on my part. When I look back now I couldn’t even do the simplest move, couldn’t lift my body off the ground but I had such a good time and Jess was very patient and encouraging. I was covered in bruises and I ached for days but I couldn’t wait for my next lesson. Jess took photos of my progress which I gave my consent for her to put on facebook but I still wasn’t ready to tell the world so I asked her not to tag me in them. What would people think a woman my age taking up pole dancing? After a few lessons I started to think wow I can do this. My confidence was building with every new move and I got frustrated if I couldn’t do something. It’s a wonder there are no foot marks in the floor from the number of times I stamped my feet at myself. After about 4 or 5 weeks I got brave and tagged myself in the facebook photos and even used one as a profile pic. As we know people still have the perception that pole dancing is performed in a sleazy club and just involves gyrating around a pole but having seen my pictures people were genuinely surprised and impressed. I have had mixed reactions about it. My family were a little bemused but supportive, friends at church wondered what on earth I was up to and my friends and colleagues at work thought it was very funny but when they saw the pictures from my Polexposure professional photo shoot the amusement turned to amazement. If I say so myself those pictures are awesome! Even my 14 year old niece thinks I’m cool so that has to say something!
Pole fitness for me is about 4 things
1. Fitness - I have achieved things that at my time of life I never thought I would. The first time I managed to do the inverted crucifix after weeks of trying to invert was a tremendous moment for me. Most recently Jess and I jumped around the room screaming uncontrollably when I managed the shoulder dismount. It has boosted my confidence immensely. I have lost weight and improved my strength and if I have anything to do with it I will never have bingo wings.
2. Friends - I was one of JLN’s first pupils when there was just the one pole then after a couple of months we moved into the 4 pole studio and JLN has expanded again into the new 12 pole studios. I have attended different classes and met different people and even though most of the girls are a lot younger and slimmer than me I have never once felt that any of the girls are thinking “what is she doing here at her age?” they are very encouraging. We support and help each other and I have made some good friends. If you are reading thank you so much ladies, I appreciate you.
3. Family - JLN has a real family atmosphere. Jess Leanne Norris is a fantastic teacher. I am amazed that someone of her age has the drive determination and maturity to carry off this venture but she has and she is such an inspiration to me and the others in her classes. She is supported wholehearted by her family and it is partly this that gives JLN its family feel. It is not just a business on her part or for me just a class I attend once a week. Jess and her family have welcomed me into their home and lives (thanks again Simon for putting up my pole for me).
4. Fun - Pole fitness is the only thing fitness wise that I’ve stuck at. The only classes I have missed are when I have been injured or ill and I never think “Oh I can’t be bothered going tonight”. When I hurt my wrist in summer last year I missed it incredibly. I hope that I will be an inspiration to others in the same way that Jess is an inspiration to me. I will never be a natural on the pole. I wish I had the grace and elegance of Jess rather than that of an elephant but I haven’t and who cares? I just love it and persistence and practice pays dividends. Believe me if I can do it anyone can. Roll on Monday and Starfish here we come!?
Karen Daly – Westhoughton, Bolton UK
The PDC would like to thank PDC approved photographer Taz from PoleExposure for allowing us to use his images in this article