Brittney's journey to flexibility
I was told that “you'll never be flexible so don’t bother trying, you’re strong”
The story of a baby poler
I found pole dancing roughly 5 years ago through a grab one voucher. My friend and I attended a beginners course at a studio in a different city, one that no longer exists now.
It was really fun and I loved how confident and outgoing all the people were but... I wasn’t so sure it was for me. I grew up playing a few sports but never in my life had I stretched. When I began those beginner classes I found out just what that meant for me.
I couldn’t even touch my knees let alone my toes! I couldn’t sit in a straddle position and I certainly couldn’t lift my legs up.
Although flexibility was a struggle for me the strength came much more naturally, so when the beginner course ended I decided to sign up to the beginner's curriculum class for a month. The sessions were not very structured. We all had sheets that had the moves on them and the instructor would wander around and help us with various things.
At the end of classes, we would stretch. I would attempt to sit in a straddle but needed to use the pole to help hold me up.
After a few lessons, while we were stretching, the instructor came over to me and assumed I was being lazy with my stretching so she stood on my knee to straighten out my leg. I pulled almost all of the connecting muscles in my knee and struggled to walk for ages.
No one thought I would go back to pole. But that’s precisely what made me go back. No one says I can't do something except me!
I slowly got back into pole and my strength helped me through the beginner and intermediate 1 syllabus. That's when I decided to join ballet and jazz classes to help with my coordination and flexibility.
After a bit of thought, I decided to reach out to my ballet and pole instructors at my old studio and ask them about increasing my flexibility. It was then I was told that “you'll never be flexible so don’t bother trying, you’re strong”. And the worst part was... I actually believed them.
At jazz I would dream of the day I could kick to 90 degrees without hunching over like an old lady.
Fast forward to 18 months into my pole journey and I had completed most of intermediate 2 and wanted to work on advanced. It was here I began to truly realise just how much I was limited by my mobility. I couldn’t jade split or even reach my front leg in chopsticks without being in agonising pain.
It was at this point I committed myself to stretch.
I didn’t really know what I was doing but for the first 6 months, I stretched for 20mins 3x a week after the gym. It was so uncomfortable. I felt like people were watching and judging me all the time. I only knew 4 stretches for my legs but began to noticed progress! After 6 months I could touch my toes and bend forward over my leg in a hamstring stretch.
I was eager for more and found stretch it app where I downloaded the front splits package. It said it was for beginners but boy were they wrong! I had to modify nearly every stretch. However, it gave me ideas and tips on alignment and again I was making slow but steady progress.
I also quickly discovered that you do not do partner stretches with people who
a) don’t know how to stretch
b) put you in stretches they would do and not cater to your ability.
I tore my hamstring twice at the hands of people “helping me”.
When I left that studio I had improved a lot. I could put my hands on the floor and on blocks in a hamstring stretch. I had about 5cm left till touchdown of a very unaligned open split on one side. But I was over the moon at this.
This is when I joined Altitude.
I started going to stretch and advanced stretch classes. I learnt a lot around stretching technique, alignment, comfortable stretching and most importantly, about my body.
I encourage all of you to take progress pictures.
This is around when I started taking pictures, I was way too embarrassed to take any before. I'm now at the point in my story where I encourage all of you to take progress pictures. Store them away in the deep dark corners of your phone because one day you will really wish you had those beginning ones!
Slowly I started improved again by going to stretch classes and stretching on my own. Progress was never linear but became enjoyable as my muscles became used to it. Yes, there were injuries. But with the right medical advice and learning to listen to my body, I got through those too.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2019 and I started teaching my own stretch classes! With splits on both sides, a flat pancake and a mean needle scale.
But this is a never-ending journey and I’m sure there is still so much potential to unlock. I signed up to contortion packages and still attend stretch classes. I have goals for myself but have also learned I love helping others unlock flexibility, too.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that no one sets your limits; you do.
The person who knows your body best; you.
The person who can make all the impossible dreams you thought you would never reach come true; you.
It's yours if you want it, so who’s ready?
Signed the person who can now kick there leg in jazz to 150 degrees with a straight back.
Why did I ever aim for 90?
Bonus! Check out Brittney's flexibility gains through this gallery! Although she missed out on those beginner photos this is still photographic proof you can become more flexible with a bit of hard work and dedication. This is what happened when Brittney ignored the naysayers and set her OWN limits.