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What I learned as a man taking classes at Seksé

by Noah Nelson

For about two weeks, I had the privilege of experiencing what an unlimited membership to Seksé has to offer. However, I’d be lying if I said this was my first time. No, that was months ago when my partner asked me if I wanted to take a couple’s lap dance class at her dance studio. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I mean I knew there would be lap dancing of some sort, that much was obvious, but I had never taken any sort of class like that before.

It should almost go without saying, but I enjoyed the class very much. Not for the reason you might be thinking, though. Yes, seeing my partner move in the ways that the class was instructing was without a doubt the highlight of my experience, but I also discovered something else: part of me discovered that I want to learn how to move like that, in my own way. In a class that I had falsely assumed might feel awkward, I felt nothing but confident in my own body.

I asked myself if it would be possible to feel like that more often.

That’s why I was so excited to get the chance to try out more classes during these last two weeks. After taking a variety of pole, dance and flexibility classes, I had many of my preconceived notions completely overturned.

First off, I was humbled. I workout six days a week and I like to think I’m in pretty good shape, but the classes I took at Seksé showed me what I’ve been missing. The flexibility and mobility you develop here is no joke, and I learned plenty of ways to stretch and increase my range of motion. I used to have some hip pain with my squats, but after I added some techniques I learned in the Seksé flexibility classes to my squat warm ups, I saw that pain go away. I learned how far I am from doing the splits, but that gives me a goal to strive for.

Also I’ll just say flat out: pole dancing is fucking hard. Like any skill, you can and will get better at it with practice, so don’t let me discourage you from trying it out, but I’m just saying that I had my eyes opened. Pole dancing requires a mix of strength, stability, coordination and confidence; all of which are trained in the pole classes. If you give these classes your all, they can leave your back, shoulders, biceps and abs more sore than a gym session.

That is actually a pretty important note, as well: the idea that you can go as hard as you want, or take it easy. Before each class, the instructor says something along the lines of “don’t do anything your body doesn’t want to do.” Sure, they push you to challenge yourself in order to get better, but in each class, it is made clear to every participant that you do not have to do everything you see the instructor do. Instead, each person is encouraged to do as much as they can, taking into consideration different experience and ability levels. Classes are kept pretty small, allowing many of the workouts to be personalized with ample one-on-one time with the instructor.

The concept of “take your workout at your own pace for the sake of your own health and goals” is not something I was ever taught in my high school football practices or lifting sessions, where the motto was to train as hard as possible as often as possible. Spoiler alert: a lot of my old high school friends and teammates injured themselves or developed bad fitness habits that had to be unlearned later in life.

In fact, that has been a common theme for my time at Seksé: unlearning something I had been taught years ago.

I remember first taking a pole class and feeling some anxiety. Not just the normal first time jitters or social anxiety, but legit anxiety about entering what feels like a very feminine space as a man and wondering if I even belong, wondering if I’d truly be welcome.

I remember being in elementary school, no older than a third grader, complimenting my teacher’s new bracelet. I called it “cute” and immediately had several of my peers tell me that “boys don’t say that word” and that I was being “girly.”

Once I had the self confidence to be myself and ignore comments like that, I developed the clarity to see those comments for what they really were: an attempt to convince a masculine person that feminine = bad. You don’t look up to female super heroes, or female athletes. You don’t wear pink or glittery things. You don’t want to fight, run or throw like a girl. And you definitely don’t call your teacher’s bracelet cute.

But what if it is cute? And what if I enjoy pole dancing? And what if, despite all of the attempts to minimize femininity, a feminine space like Seksé is still very accepting of masculine people?

That is what I learned at Seksé. I learned that all of my anxiety about sticking out like a stubbed toe was complete bullshit. By every instructor in every class and in every interaction I had with classmates, I was reminded that I belong. From the cheers and claps heard when I learned a new pole trick to even just the random conversations I had after class with people I had only met an hour before, I always felt like I belong.

I will definitely be coming back.

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