At some point, most of us have struggled to love ourselves, feeling insecure and lacking self-confidence. But how many of us would have ever considered pole fitness as way to learn to love yourself? We spoke to KZN pole studio owner Cindy Robinson Naidu about her incredible journey of self-discovery.
Living proof that it’s never too late to learn something new, Cindy has been practising pole fitness for the past seven years since she was first introduced to the sport in her early 30s.
“It has been an incredible journey of self-discovery, learning about my own strengths and weaknesses and even surprising myself by doing things I never thought I could! When I got the opportunity to open my own studio, I decided to build a space where women could feel beautiful, strong, sexy and powerful,” she says.
The owner of Pole Base Aerial Arts Studio in Durban North, Cindy has helped a number of women along the road to self-discovery and self-love through this unique art. Her style of teaching is based on passion and dedication. Her philosophy, when it comes to pole fitness, is ‘with time and dedication, you can achieve rhythm, strength and flexibility that you never dreamed you could.’
A testament to this, Cindy won gold in the intermediate division of the KZN Pole Awards in 2017, walking away with the performance of the night – something she never thought possible since she had no previous dance experience.
Ultimately though, Cindy says it is the magic of the sport itself that gives you a sense of confidence, independence, sexiness and strength. Besides all the health and fitness benefits, it’s really good for your mind. ‘It makes you feel eager and excited to work out, helps you shoot for your goals, makes you learn to love your body no matter what, and you feel great knowing how far you’ve come and can still go.’
She has seen women who have just met, cheer each other on as they attempt new moves for the first time.
“I’ve seen women go from being shy and wearing long shorts, to rocking a bikini five months later – not because they think their body is perfect, but because they’ve realised that this a safe space and no one is judging them. I’ve seen them fall in love with the body they have, even as it evolves and becomes stronger. I’ve watched them let go of body image perceptions and love the journey of getting fit, with an army of women supporting them.”
Cindy is encouraged by the touching weekly messages she receives from the women she teaches. “I’ve seen women fight and start to overcome serious issues like depression, abuse, loneliness and extreme lack of confidence through this sport and I hope that sharing what this sport has done for me and for so many of my students, will help inspire woman to start pole, or any form of exercise, to help towards resolving personal challenges and health issues.”
So, who can do it? Cindy says there is no age, shape, size or personality type limit in her classes – everyone is welcome. From analysts and housewives to chiropractors, new moms, professional nurses, medical doctors and firewomen and people with mental and physical struggles … her door is always open.
“That’s the beauty of pole fitness. You begin with your strengths and work functionally on your weaknesses. Pole sport requires physical strength, mental stamina and the ability to let go of your inhibitions and simply have fun. It is difficult to find a hobby that is stimulating, exciting, challenging and loads of fun all at the same time, yet this is exactly what each pole class is like. It’s a fun form of cardio, gets your heart pumping, builds a strong core, back, arms, shoulders and chest. Over and above that, your legs get a really good work out too due to the muscle engagement required for pole and, before you know it, your bum will become more firm.”
“I often say it’s 40 percent pole and 60 percent social connection that makes us so happy. Because of this social joy, we lose track of time so quickly and don’t realize how much effort we’ve already put in, and how natural the endurance begins to come to us. All the banter and laughter in the classes also allows us to enjoy the mental benefits that come with laughter – stress release, better sleep, longevity, heart, health and internal happiness.”
Perhaps the biggest benefit of pole fitness, according to Cindy, is body image. Research has shown that more than 10 per cent of woman and girls don’t do sport due to body confidence issues.
“Often women say to me that pole makes them feel like a kid again. I think it’s because of the sense of freedom you get in this sport; you get to jump, swing, dance and have fun with friends. If you keep training, your body and posture will change. As will your mind. Our studio motto is, ‘things in the mirror are stronger than they appear’ and this is true of every woman. You (and your body) are capable of these amazing things. It just takes a little time.”