How pole fitness classes got me back into exercise
I always enjoyed going to the gym and keeping fit. Going to classes with friends at the weekend and after work was a regular and fun part of my life. Then I developed MS and the symptoms affected my walking, coordination and balance. I found it difficult to take part in my usual activities, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy taking part in classes again.
Eventually, I got a diagnosis of relapsing remitting MS. Although I'm being treated and feeling a bit better, in my case becoming too hot during some forms of exercise makes me uncomfortable and causes some of my old symptoms to rear their ugly heads.
Building my strength
I decided to try something different, and building my strength was the way to go for me. I chose pole fitness as I'd seen a post about it on Facebook. Some of the spins looked very pretty and elegant, and going upside down on the pole looked great fun and impressive too!
The idea of pole doesn't float everyone's boat and I feel there are many misconceptions associated with it, but I haven't looked back. It is a great workout which has improved my strength, balance, flexibility and body confidence, and I'm able to take part at my own pace.
Working out MS wobbles
I'm upfront about having MS, so my instructors know about it and understand the issues it can cause me. They're everything good teachers should be - they have ‘can't yet’ attitudes. They challenge and drive me to achieve my potential but are mindful of the difficulties I encounter with balance and my weaker left side. And, if I ever have an MS wobble, I always have the pole to hold on to!
All shapes and sizes
I’ve made lots of new friends. The people in the classes are so friendly, helpful and take an interest in how I manage with my MS. They are some of the loveliest and most non-judgemental people I've met, not caring that I'm sometimes a bit clumsy or that they can see the damage to my skin where I've injected medication.
The pole community is an inclusive bunch of people of all shapes and sizes, ages, gender - and now, as I've experienced, physical capabilities.
Find something you love
Going to pole classes is a way for me to de-stress and to feel a sense of achievement when I eventually manage a move I've been stuck on for ages. If you’re thinking of trying a new hobby, I’d say go for it! It might become something you love, and allow you to exceed your own expectations.
Claire is a 30-year-old primary school teacher from Glasgow. She was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2013.