I don't talk to a lot of people about it, but since I've been out of touch with that world for a while, I thought I'd finally talk about it. I was a pole dancer.
I mean, I personally think there's nothing wrong with being a pole dancer, but its the stigma that comes along with it and the assumption that all pole dancers are seductive and a sex goddess. Ok, slightly true, but they're not slutty or immoral.
I generally like the challenge that comes with pole fitness and I really admire the grace and art that goes hand in hand with it. Pole dancing is by far the hardest thing I've ever done, and it has seriously challenged my upper body and core. Can you imagine doing all that while making it look effortless and graceful? Yeah, I don't think so.
How it All Began
So it all started when my cousin was getting married. Naturally, as part of the bridal party, we decided to throw a bachelorette party and we wanted it to be extra naugt- I mean, fun.
I've been doing my research on ideas and things we can do to make it extra special until I came across this blog that did a pole dancing party for a hen party. Now that sounds fun!
So I found this place in Bangsar called Bobbi's Pole Studio and found out that they do a special private party for hen parties at RM130 per person at that time, for a group of at least 6 people! So we signed up for it.
I seriously had so much fun! At first, we were all so stiff and awkward, but thanks to the encouragement of our gorgeous instructor, Saintly (her stage name), we learned to be more comfortable with our bodies and feel sexy!
After learning a short and simple routine of a lap dance and pole, we got into our costumes and props provided by the studio and we had a mini performance! The photo session was pretty fun too and it was a completely different experience.
I love the layout of the place too. Its so Burlesque and very understated from the outside. But once you're inside, you're greeted with long, red curtains, plush sofas and velvet carpets. It really felt like a place where you can let your alter ego out to play.
I started joining the actual classes back in April 2017. When I first started working and made my first salary. I often take the train and bring my own lunch on top of living with my family, so I could afford the classes here. Classes in Bobbi's costs a little less than RM300 a month.
The reason why I decided to give pole a try was because I was getting tired of the same routine I do in the gym; weights and cardio. Sometimes, I just needed a little change in scenery that gets me excited about something new in fitness again, and because I felt challenged the first time, I wanted to see how I felt about pole fitness.
One of the first few things I learnt about pole is that our outfits (bikini and 7 inch stiletto shoes) has its functionality. The reason why you can't perform as well in full clothing is because you need to be able to stick to your pole and get a good grip from your abs, to your thighs. Clothes will get in your way and you won't be able to grip properly, so less is more.
As for the shoes, not only does it help in terms of showmanship, these shoes help protect your toes when you land after doing a stunt on the pole and it helps you to slide on the floor better. On top of that, the particular brand we're wearing (Pleaser Shoes) is designed specifically for dancing!
If you're a regular high heeled girl like yours truly, you would notice right away that these shoes are super comfortable despite its height. The thick cushioning in the shoes absorbs the impact, and the soles are rubber and very easy to grip on the floor. No slipping and sliding for sure. They're every pole dancer's best friend.
Be Confident & Sexy!
One thing I love about Pole is that there is no discrimination of bodies here; you can be old or young, fat or thin, etc and you will always be accepted for who you are. I like the support of the women here who encourages one another to be confident in their own skins and have that right to feel like the sex goddess they really are.
Every term, we have a show night, where students get to perform a routine from what they've learnt before. On my first term, I did a strip tease to the song 'Where You Belong' by The Weeknd and performed it on my best friend, Melissa. Our relationship has never been more special. Haha!
Needless to say, it has definitely helped spice things up in the bedroom with my partner at that time. Most of the time, I hardly even get to finish even half of my routine before he throws me on the bed.
I stopped taking up Pole early this year because I decided to save my income for my investment portfolio. Although I got a new job with significant income increase, I still felt that I should look to the future in the long term. Hopefully when I diversify my income, I will install a pole in my woman cave and take up Pole once again.
For now, my performance will be strictly within closed doors for the next lucky guy ;)
I feel like I should really pick up from the last time I used to blog in college. Those who knows me now would probably get the impression that I'm a fitness freak and always have been. To those who knew me way back, they would know that I was a completely different person then.
With that, I thought I'd share on how I started my fitness journey and what kept me going all this while, and I hope this could inspire some people to take the first step forward someday.
Before I remotely got interested in fitness, I was always known as the child who had a pretty face, but was unfortunately fat. Growing up, that was what I was always labelled and I grew to accept it. I didn't think I deserved to look good, nor did I even dream that I could wear nice things that could draw attention to myself. I just didn't think I was pretty enough to deserve it.
That's me in the middle, age 15, on a holiday in Phuket, Thailand.
Despite being constantly called the chubby one, it never bothered me too much until one day at a rosary gathering among our church group. So there was this aunty who was known to have a sharp tongue. She says whatever she wants to say, she does what ever she wants to do, regardless of what people think of her. They don't think of her too well.
Anyway, it was the end of the rosary session and as usual, there is bound to be food at the end of it. At that time, I had a heavy dinner so I didn't have much of an appetite. So when somebody offered me to eat, I politely declined to which the aunty said, "Yeah, better not la. You're becoming too fat." and somebody chuckled.
That's how it all started. She then went on and on about what I can do to lose weight and constantly criticized my big tummy, or my chubby face. It just continued until somebody decided to leave. We were in a room full of adults and nobody said anything but just listened to her the whole time talking about me.
It was and is the most horrible night of my life. I remembered crying for a week because I felt so worthless and ugly. I didn't want to go to school for a day or two because I was so depressed and to this day, it has really made a dent in me.
Fast forward to a few years later. I was 17 at that time, on a student exchange program in Italy. It was there where I truly learned to appreciate the beauty of all bodies there.
As you can see, my host sister comes from a large family. Whenever we're going out, I always see that she makes sure she dresses to the nines; from the most stylish clothes to the most elaborate makeup. I thought she looked gorgeous.
Most of the girls were quite surprised at how plain I was then. Because everybody there makes it a point to look their best no matter where they are. It was there that the people said I was beautiful. Wherever I went. Complete strangers would call me beautiful, even though I thought I was far from it.
After coming back from Italy, I decided to learn how to look my best no matter what the occasion and that has built my confidence a little. Just a little.
One day, I fell in love but like any young love, it was bound to end quickly. I thought he was the source of my true happiness but now I was left alone (I know, SO cliche. What was I thinking?)
It took me about a year to finally pull myself together and I knew I needed a distraction. One that could make me a better person and make me happy again. A project.
I remembered the lowest days when I was mocked for being fat and I decided that that was what I wanted to change in myself. I wanted to lose weight and have a slim body! (Also, in my pettiness, I really wanted to be my ex's hottest ex girlfriend)
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I was a cardio bunny.
Of course, I didn't know where to start or what are the first steps to losing weight. Naturally, I just went for the easiest thing which was the treadmill. And I hated it.
To this day, I still don't enjoy being on the treadmill. Its so boring and uneventful to me. Eventually, I took up swimming until one day I had an injury to my foot where I had to do a surgery so I could neither swim nor run on the treadmill for a while.
I was doing so well at that point; I stopped eating carbs and cut my intake to half. I was steadily losing weight and made great progress. I couldn't just stop right there and wait to heal.
That's when I discovered Pilates on YouTube. More specifically, that's when I discovered Blogilates.
I first discovered her through a beauty vlogger on YouTube. What I liked about her the most was how positive she was and so encouraging. Pilates wasn't the most strenuous exercise for my injured foot, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Boy was I challenged! Even though the exercises are injury friendly, it wasn't easy either. The more I followed her videos, the more addicted I became to that feeling of muscle soreness and waking up to a stiff butt.
More than just the exercises, I felt that I was working out with a friend, a friend who was so full of energy and positivity, it really rubbed off on me. Which is why I HIGHLY recommend that if you're a first timer to the world of fitness, get a good trainer or a partner to keep you going and to guide you on your first steps to swoleness.
As I moved forward in my fitness journey, I always pushed myself to new challenges; from learning how to lift weights, to doing scary stuff like headstands. My greatest achievement so far was to be able to do 200 burpees in a row. Not bad for a cardio phobe like myself!
What Kept Me Going?
Now, like most people who joined the gym after new year's resolution hoo haa, I too have faced the temptations of just 'taking a break' or 'getting back into it another time'. Whenever I have those thoughts, I always ask myself, "Why did I start? Who am I doing this for?"
And that's when I'm always reminded of that day in the rosary group; a young 15 year old girl being mocked for her chubby figure among a group of adults. If I could turn back time, I would give her a hug and tell her that she's beautiful and I would never let her down.
I am responsible for my own happiness. People may come and go, some who has even enhanced my happiness, but no matter what, I alone have the power to feel beautiful and happy.
And that's what kept me going. To this day, I always try to challenge myself to achieve new levels and it really gives me a sense of purpose.
To those who are waiting to take the first steps in your fitness journey, I say just do it! You may stumble around a bit, but you will find your way. Have a purpose and a goal to keep you going, and I promise you that it'll change your life for the better.
I've been an avid hiker since I started working out back in 2015. I was never a fan of treadmill cardio, so hiking was the best alternative for me.
My favorite treks are usually Bukit Saga and Apek Hill because its quite a friendly trail with lots of regular hikers that comes and goes. Plus, both trails also have an outdoor gym and hammocks which is pretty nice when you reach the top. Occasionally, we'd discover other trails like Broga Hill, FRIM or other trails in KL and Puchong, but Apek hill and Bukit Saga is my no.1 place solely because of the Chilli Pan Mee nearby which I always go after a hike.
Anyway. One fine day, my best friend Melissa was like, "Guys, I'm so tired of our usual trail. Let's try out Bukit Tabur for a change! Its a bit more challenging and you may require some rock climbing skills."
Boy, did I regret not doing my homework about that place before climbing up there. I'm just glad we all managed to come back in one piece, because unlike the other trails I've ever been to, I was legit SCARED climbing up there. I was not prepared for what was up ahead.
Upon arrival, we didn't know exactly where to find the trail. There were some signs that were clearly telling us to fuck off, but we spotted some hikers who disregarded the signs and went up ahead along these giant pipes. We went ahead and followed them too.
Eventually, we came to a tiny opening between the forest and a water tower. You wouldn't have noticed the 'trail' (if you can call it that) at first glance, but if you squeezed your way up, you would have found it.
The trail was really narrow and super steep. You really need to make sure you got a pair of proper hiking boots with good grip. Trust me, this is coming from a cheapo like myself. Your safety is more worth it than saving a few bucks.
Occasionally, you will come across steep boulders like these with poorly maintained ropes. Some of them look like they could snap at any minute so make sure you bring a pair of gloves to get a better grip at the ropes. Also, some of them are pretty slimy, if that wasn't enough motivation enough for you to get a pair.
Picture me holding up Simba over this cliff going "BAAAAAAAZOWHENYAAAAAAAGONNABUYMEPIZZABRAAAAH!"
Most of the time, you will get some fantastic views here and there; great for insta-worthy pics, but not for the faint hearted.
If you're wondering why Melissa isn't in much pics, she's camera shy.
The view is fantastic up there, but the climb. If only I was able to take more pics, but the climb was super scary and dangerous. I cannot emphasize how dangerous it was for us to get up there.
First off the rocks are SHARP. Like, the boulders have little rocks sticking out of them and they tend to cut, even if you slowly ease your buns on them. It can be quite painful. Now imagine climbing them at an almost vertical angle with only a skinny string to hold you up. Yeah, it was that scary. I dared not look down.
Luckily for us, we're relatively quite fit so we are able to pull ourselves up. A bit of upper body strength would be very useful in this trip. One wrong move, and you can easily take a misstep and fall into the sharp rocks below or worse. It definitely wasn't exactly a family friendly trail to go up to.
Now if there's one advise I always tell any noobs about hiking, that's never to go alone. Always bring an experienced hiker with you who has already explored the trails and is familiar with the trails. If no one in your group has ever been there, always make sure you find someone who has.
Of course, cocky as we were, we thought we could always follow the trail or follow someone there. Unfortunately for us that day, the hikers ahead of us went far far away and we didn't have anyone to follow. Instead, we followed what looked like a trail since it was heading downwards, and that's about the general direction we were supposed to go anyway.
Boy, were we wrong.
After about an hour of walking downwards, going past thick foliage and steep, muddy parts, we realize that there were no other hikers in sight since and we were getting worried. At times, the trail just disappeared, but we pushed forward nonetheless because we didn't know where else to go.
Just as we were starting to panic, we saw red tape strung all across the trees everywhere, saying "DILARANG MASUK" (No Entry). But the sign was facing outside, so clearly we were somewhere we're not supposed to be.
Gingerly, we kept walking and found a hut in the middle of the forest with a few guys in there. Oh well, we thought. If we're gonna die in the forest, at least we're gonna die finding out if we went the wrong direction. So we approached one of them asking how do we get out of the forest.
The biggest guy came to us and said that we were trespassing in private property. His boss is not a patient man and if he found us, we'd be in big trouble.
Oh fuck, we thought. Confirm we're gonna die lah!
However, he said. I can tell you how to get out on one condition. You gotta give us some donation in return.
"What if we don't have any money?" I asked.
"Then," he said, "You guy gotta go all the way back up to the hill and follow the proper trail. It should take you about 3 hours to get down."
Fuck no, we thought. We forked out RM20 and he pointed us to a concrete road downhill nearby. How did we not see that earlier?
After 10 minutes of walking down the road, HALLELUJAH! We've found our car. We immediately got in and drove off to the comforts of our homes.
Some key takeaway from climbing up Bukit Tabur since I'm sure there are a lot of idiots like you out there who would climb the mountain anyway despite my warnings.
1. Wear long pants and gloves - you need to protect yourself from the sharp rocks and get a good grip on the ropes.
2. Wear hiking boots
3. Bring a guide with you
Now, it was only later on when I read about Bukit Tabur that I found there were a lot of cases of fatalities that happened up there. The number of cases were so high, Bukit Tabur actually became restricted and it was technically illegal to climb there.
Do note that a lot of people have either died horribly or injured themselves seriously, so keep that in mind when you're climbing up. Do not get distracted by taking some risky selfie up there and always be alert.
Do not go there! But if you do, good luck.
Anne is the author and founder of this blog. She likes to write about current issues, travels, food and the general struggles of a millennial.