“Pole dancing has really improved my confidence!”

by Leigh Morley

If you’re bored of the gym and need a change in routine, then pole dancing could be the fitness regime that’s perfect for you. 21 year old Becky Field explains how this new craze can build your confidence and keep you fit as well, whilst breaking the stereotype that pole dancing is just for strippers.

abeckypole

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, ever since I saw that White Stripes video  with Kate Moss pole dancing in it,” the Sheffield Hallam student explains. “I just thought it looked like so much fun.”

Becky immediately looked into starting pole, but the nearest studio was 20 miles away from her home town and she doesn’t drive. Luckily, other students at Sheffield Hallam had set up a society to teach beginners, and Becky jumped at the chance. “It was perfect, because I was really intimidated at the thought of going into a regular class with other scared people and being completely hopeless.”

Becky, who is also president of the Psychology Society, started classes every other week and soon became addicted. Every other week became a weekly activity, and before she knew it, she was scheduling pole lessons in between classes. Becky explains that she hasn’t been lately due to exams, but confesses that she’s suffering withdrawal symptoms and cannot wait to get back to it.

“It’s such a good laugh, nobody takes themselves too seriously and we can all get on well together and have a good joke in our lessons,” she explains. “It’s helped me make so many friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise spoken to.”

Since starting a few months ago, Becky has improved her strength and learned tonnes of complicated moves, her instructor building up her confidence and coordination at the same time. “I’m not hitting myself on the pole every time now, and my strength has definitely improved,” she adds. Because of pole, Becky explains how she’s found muscles in places she’s never imagined and finally has the strength and confidence to do moves she would never have dreamt of in her first lesson. “The only problem is that now my arms don’t fit in some of my more girly shirts,” she laughs.

Unfortunately, not many people would think that pole dancing comes with such benefits, as the stigma attached to it is quite a negative one. Often associated with the seedy side of stripping, pole fitness is anything but. An article was recently published earlier this year by the NUS Women’s Officer, which had an incredibly pessimistic view of pole dancing, calling for university societies across the UK to ban classes. The pole community caused a huge uproar and eventually the article was retracted.

“There is so much stigma attached to pole it’s unreal,” Becky says. “People need to see past the stereotypical stripper view and see it as a brilliant, fun way to exercise. People like that should even try classes themselves.”

Becky even talks about how her parents were slightly wary of her new hobby at first, when she arrived home one weekend with bruises on her legs. “They weren’t too thrilled at first,” she says. “But I showed them one of my favourite videos online of a performance at a pole dancing competition. It showed the strength and dedication that it requires and they came around. This is why more people need to see things like this, they need to realise how amazing pole fitness can actually be.”

Becky’s experience with pole dancing has been nothing but positive. Since she started, her confidence and health has significantly improved, and she’s been having a lot more fun than she does at the gym.

“I’ve loved every second of this, and I can’t wait to get back to classes and improve over Summer!”

Find more posts by Leigh Morley here

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Rejection spurred ‘stalker’ to give death threats

by Railah Iqbal

A month into starting university, Hanna Ryaz, 21, was bombarded by phone calls and text messages by an unfamiliar individual which turned threatening which the police had to put a stop to.

Initially ‘the stalker’ was being friendly and claimed he wanted to get to know Hanna but soon he began threatening her when she refused to speak to him.

Hanna reading texts

Hanna reading texts

Hanna explained: “At first they made it out that they were trying to be friendly and just a bit flirty but when I rejected the person, they started stalking me.”
She added; “I came to Uni and not many people had my number and I began getting texts off an anonymous number.”
The stranger told Hanna that he was watching her every move. Hanna recalled; “They knew where I worked, they knew when I went to Uni, they would say ‘we know where you live’.”

Hanna

Hanna

At the time, Hanna began to question who she was speaking to and found it difficult to trust the new friends she made at university.
Hanna’s day-to-day activities were affected as she started missing work in a bid to avoid leaving her flat.

When the threats started, Hanna told the security team at her accommodation. “They would say they were going to kick my door down and kidnap me, even abusive things like rape were mentioned… I did not know what to do.”

Hanna's emergency contact numbers card (courtesy of Unite accommodation)

Hanna’s emergency contact numbers card (courtesy of Unite accommodation)

Because of the seriousness of the threats, the team advised Hanna to contact the police. The police came to see her the next day.

Hanna urged the police to track down the stalker and he was given a warning which has stopped him from contacting Hanna since.

Hanna advises others in similar situations; “If you are living in a flat where there isn’t much security, you should be very careful with who you trust and not let information out as well.”

Further National Stalking Helpline; an advisory unit,  is available to victims of stalking in need of advice and counselling. NHS is most helpful for those who wish to remain anonymous.

NSH’s spokesperson commented; “For young people who may find themselves in a position of being subjected to stalking behaviour, our advice would be to make contact with their local police service to report the behaviour. In addition we would advise getting in contact with the National Stalking Helpline, which provides a lot of advice for victims. ”

The helpline added that other students in Hanna’s situation should  get in touch with their university as soon as possible because “there are usually support mechanisms there to help.”

Photography by Railah

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