Pole dancing means many things to different people: it’s a hobby, sport, or form of art. But for the past few years, it has become so much more for women, and they have been opening up about how good pole dancing has been for their mental health and how it has helped them with self-love and confidence.
For Lena Loskill, pole dancing was a remedy for her mind, a fantastic tool to help her love herself and a hobby she picked to accompany her on her journey through life. But it’s not only Lena: she also teaches in a studio she opened with her sister in Bugibba on the Mediterranean island of Malta.
WisePandaStudio is the place where she created a wonderful, welcoming, and accepting community of dancers.
Lena admits she had been obsessed with pole dancing for many years before she started: “Pole dancing has always been on my mind, since a really young age. I’ve always been fascinated by it. It looks so effortless and beautiful, I always admired the dancers.”
Her journey with it begin on her visits and work trips to Australia, where she stayed for a year: “I was too shy to go alone to my very first class, so I dragged my sister to come with me. It was funny because by accident we signed up for an advanced class. Everybody was up there, standing on the ceiling doing all kinds of out-of-this-world poses on a metal pole. I was a bit frustrated because I couldn’t lift myself in any way, but I didn’t want to give up on it yet! I fell in love with this art form, and did my trainer certification at Cologne Pole Fitness in Germany.”
The love for pole dancing eventually brought changes in her life: she got physically stronger, but also mentally. It changed the way she sees herself: “I used to really hate myself, I was more of an insecure tomboy kid playing the drums and felt uncomfortable in my own skin,” she said. Pole dancing is an art form that has truly helped her body, mind, and soul. It has been a healing journey for her. Not only the dancing but also what came within.
Making life-long friends along the way and growing and dancing with them but also the memories: “I have a lot of beautiful memories, connecting and poling outdoor with my friends is one of them,” Lena told us.
Sometimes they set up pole stage on a cliff, on a beach, or near a forest and dance: “It feels so freeing to dance outside,” says Lena. It also gave her more opportunities to travel and connect with people with the same passion. “I once visited one of my dear friends in Greece, who made an incredible pole video. We rented a pole and set it up in the garage of his apartment building. It was freezing cold but the video is incredible and I am so grateful to have such supportive friends around me who are down to create whenever and wherever.”
If she had to pick, the most rewarding part of it all is the teaching, and Lena loves how empowered it makes everyone feel: “When a student, who started off really shy and insecure gets their very first pair of platform heels, it makes me so happy!”
Lena gets a lot of positive feedback from her students. It means the world to her, knowing she can help other women with their insecurities, to help them feel more confident and love themselves: “We all heal and grow together, but most importantly have fun while learning this skill.”
Anita Virag is another pole dancer who believes it makes her more confident and strong: “It’s a very hard sport, I used to train boxing and kickboxing so I know what I’m talking about. In boxing, you can avoid the pain if you can move away from the punch. But dancing is really no pain no gain. That’s why it’s a fantastic sport for me, you always have to push your own limits, always. You learn to handle the pain after time. In fact later on you will be proud of the blue and purple marks on your body. Called pole kisses. And you’ll be proud that you do something that is hard to do for lots of people and makes you feel special. It gives you a badass feeling.”
One of Lena’s students, who did not want to be named, said that pole dancing makes her feel strong and beautiful. It’s one of the moments when she forgets her thoughts and just enjoys herself: “It’s one of the few times that my mind is really still and all I’m thinking about is what I’m doing and I’m very present in the moment.”
She tells me that pole dance has increased her confidence; she is someone who would never wear shorts outside because she is ashamed of her body yet when she is pole dancing she barely wears any clothes – just a sports bra and booty shorts. “Cellulite, everything is out, but I don’t care, I am more focused on getting the moves and tricks.”
For Katia, pole dancing is her teacher, and she learns how to make things step by step and doesn’t give up when something is not working for her: “I’m not really happy with my body before, and I was blaming myself for not being perfect but now I’m telling myself ‘keep going and you’ll be there’.”
She also adds that pole dancing made her trust herself more; she can see how her body gets stronger, and how she can do more poses and it makes her proud. It gives her a feeling that she can achieve more, not only on the pole but in any aspect of life: “Pole isn’t only a physical activity but also a way of physiotherapy for me.”
Kristina, another student of Lena’s students feels the same, she says that pole dancing really helped her boost her confidence and also leaves her admiring herself for the strength it’s giving her. It also helped her accept herself more and feel good in her body. “It makes me so happy and really makes me want to do more of it.”
Kayleigh Muscat felt she became confident over time; in the beginning, she was “a bit self-conscious and felt like a total newbie for some time”. Now pole dance makes her feel like a child again, very free. Sometimes she gets irritated when she can’t get a certain move done or her hands aren’t grippy enough, especially in summer.
But other than that “with a good warm-up and stretching before starting to make certain moves, it can help not just the body but also the mind. Pole dancing gives a very good serotonin boost in the brain and also makes me feel very sexy” she says, and added that it also showed that her body can do much more than she thought she can do, it makes her feel powerful and gives her the energy to push more.
Practise is the time when the dancers are feeling the best, even in the moments when it’s not easy: “When I practice I feel very motivated and sometimes exhausted after doing several moves repeatedly but the end result is always a step closer to another trick I want to achieve.”
And after class? “Extremely exhausted,” says Kristina, but she can’t wait to start the next one. Girls said that they love to watch the videos they made and post pictures as soon as they have time after their classes – which really shows how good they feel when they are there.
“The instructor is a big factor in also making me feel confident, Lena is so motivating and always so positive, such an amazing and beautiful woman inside and out,” one of the students told Artefact.
Even though Lena has her own school and amazing students, who she taught so much, she still doesn’t call herself an expert: “I feel like there is still a lot I have to learn, but I am proud of myself. Always a student at the end of the day, I still try to take lessons with other polers in the community, or learn by watching videos of other pole dancers who inspire me,” she says.
“I want to become a better dancer and work on my style and teaching skills. I want to work on projects with other artists. Mainly I want to make people more aware of it, not only as fitness but as a life-changing hobby, that everyone should at least try once before judging it” she adds.
Featured image by Millie Robson