Life in Your Own Skin
By Laura Martier –
What does it mean to enjoy life in your own skin, to let go of insecurities and limitations and move freely through the world loving your body and self? For Chel Rogerson it means constantly challenging herself and her body in a way that inspires and empowers her and others. It means standing in front of the mirror and seeing beyond the negative “self-talk.”
It means strapping on a pair of high heels and dancing on a pole.
“When I was in college,” Rogerson recalls, “I hated my body and was obsessed with being thin. I ate very little and it worked, but I still had no self confidence.” Rogerson had no idea when she accompanied a friend to a pole dancing class years ago that it would change her life forever. “I never dreamed I would be able to do the things I do today,” says Rogerson. “Sometimes I wonder, is this me?”
Pole dancing is a form of performance art that most people associate with strip clubs. It combines dance and acrobatics centered around a vertical pole and requires strength, flexibility and endurance.
Traced as far back as eight hundred years, the use of a pole for exercise was practiced in India, China and in the 1920s, the pole in the middle of a tent was utilized by traveling circuses. Eventually it moved from tents to bars and combined with burlesque dance until the 1990s when it was reinvented as an art, fitness exercise and a form of recreational and competitive sport with recognized schools and qualifications to certify potential instructors. Today, you can easily find a pole dancing class in every city.
“Everywhere I visit I take a pole dance class,” says Rogerson. Constantly learning and developing, Rogerson brings everything she learns back to her classes. “My Just Dance cardio class is basically using dance moves that I take off the pole.” Held at Outer Banks Sports Club, the class is fun, motivating and incredibly popular.
Molly O’Bryan, a student of Rogerson’s, puts it this way, “I’ve been going to Chel’s Just Dance class since they started. She helps me feel comfortable trying dance moves I never thought I would! I always leave class feeling sexy, confident and good about myself.”
The community of pole dance is all about empowerment. Instructors and students lift each other up and encourage a positive self-image. Rogerson adds, “We applaud each other for every accomplishment. We compliment each other. The positivity spreads throughout the community.”
While taking the message of pole dancing into the community Rogerson admits, “You have to explain yourself.” A self-described feminist, she acknowledges the stigma that surrounds pole dancing and the assumption that it is about “stripping.”
“There still is an element of sexy to pole dancing for fitness. That’s partially because you have to have your skin exposed, which helps you ‘stick’ to the pole,” says Rogerson.
Pole dancers also dance in high heels. “It’s just part of the sport,” Rogerson states. “If you take the time to learn about pole dancing, you’ll quickly be able to appreciate the athleticism involved.”
Students agree. “Just Dance classes are not only the most fun I’ve had working out, they are extremely effective,” says Jenn Yell, a Rogerson devotee. “I only need to take a few of her classes a week to stay in good shape!”
Rogerson attributes being in the best shape of her life to pole dancing and is enthusiastically spreading the word. She teaches pole dancing classes by appointment only in her home studio and also travels with a “portable pole” to teach classes in private homes. She also gives artful demonstrations of pole dancing art at community events and wherever she is called to share the powerful and beautiful example of a woman living blissfully in her own skin.