Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • April 2015
Written by 

Spinning toward recovery — How pole fitness helped one woman heal from abuse

I could hardly contain myself. It was all I talked about for weeks, and it was all I could think about as soon as I knew it was coming. When my dancing pole finally arrived, I cried.

The events of the last four years came rushing back, and I couldn’t hold back the tears. Pole fitness saved my life, and having my very own pole was a reminder of where I had been and how far I had come.

Just prior to my discovery of pole fitness through a local studio in Appleton I exited a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship. He would tell me that I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, or good enough in general. He convinced me that I was the root of all of our problems, and I believed everything he told me about myself.

Once I got out of that relationship, I began working on destroying those thoughts and telling myself that I was worth something. I used to stand in front of the mirror every morning and tell myself that I was beautiful, I was smart, and I was most definitely good enough. Though it helped, I was still stuck in a self-defeating mindset. I wasn’t comfortable in my own body or with seeing it at all. I thought that it might help to exercise, and the results might help me see myself in a better light.

Before I started, if someone had told me that pole fitness would change my life, I would have laughed at them. When I started, I thought that it would be a once-a-week fitness class and nothing more.

I have never been more wrong.

Pole fitness is empowering and I soon became addicted. I began attending pole classes as a depressed and unhappy young woman, convinced that I was worth nothing and could achieve nothing of value. I was embarrassed of my body and did my best to hide it. Today, I am happy and confident, and believe that my body is beautiful and capable. I no longer wear long basketball shorts and cutoff T-shirts to class. I can look at the wall of mirrors in the studio and not be afraid — in fact I am happy with what I see.

As I progressed through my recovery, I learned three important lessons. First, you have to be the one to instigate change. The only one who can change you is you. The only reason I believed what he told me is because I allowed myself to think that.

This leads to my second lesson: The importance of a positive mental script. Once again, you are the only one with the power to change your thoughts. This means that you must rewrite your mental script. Instead of responding to the world with negativity and a poor self-image, respond with positivity and confidence.

It’s not easy, I’ll admit. I started by standing in front of the mirror and repeating positive thoughts out loud. I also worked to recognize my negative responses to situations and made an effort to change them. Everything was not my fault, and everything was going to be OK.

Lastly, and most importantly, surround yourself with positive and supportive people. I have great family and friends, but I couldn’t have made the recovery I did without all the ladies of my local aerial dance studio. The instructors are always positive and smiling. They know how to challenge students, and their belief in my ability to succeed is refreshing. My fellow students are supportive and encouraging. With such a positive environment to escape to once or twice a week, I’m not surprised that my recovery progressed as it did.

I believe that recovery is a never-ending process. You will never forget what happened, and you will always need to push those negative thoughts aside. Remember that you have the power to help yourself feel better. Surround yourself with positive people, and keep trying. Pursue activities that empower you! I’m biased, but the supportive environment and the empowering sport of pole fitness, along with my personal efforts, where what helped me realize the truth: I am worthy, capable and beautiful.

* To protect the author’s identity, only her first name has been published.


Breanna is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Information Management and Technology through UW-Green Bay and has been spinning at Aerial Dance Pole Fitness, LLC for almost three years. For more information, call 920-750-1441 or go to


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