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Be your own hero!

It is one of those days that I just want to give up and let my illness take over. Pain… so much pain in all my joints and spine.  If I sit still for longer than five minutes the pain and stiffness will take over and I will not be able to move.

Hi, my name is Yvonne. My friends and pole mates know me as “Ivonka”, which is also my stage name.  I have competed in a few amateur pole competitions and also Miss Pole Dance ACT 2015.  Sometimes I ask myself why I started when I have all these health issues.

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I am HLA-B27+. So what the hell is that? It is a gene that predisposes the carrier to painful inflammatory auto-immune conditions. Apparently there is no cure but we do have a wide range of drugs and treatments to fight it. I have been diagnosed with several inflammatory conditions including Ankylosing Spondilitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Iritis and have become a frequent visitor to  hospital and private clinics.

I started pole dancing over two years ago when my health was degenerating and I was desperate to find a solution to save myself.  I spent a lot of money on Physiotherapists who didn’t help at all. I spent so much time in bed because of the pain and I wasn’t able to walk without a walking stick. Sometimes I had to claw myself around the house because my body was half paralysed and in agony. A slight move the wrong way would leave me in tears.

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One day, my friend suggested I try pole dancing, because it exercises all your joints and muscles at the same time. My initial reaction was “No not pole dancing!!! I am not a stripper.” She replied, “It’s fitness! We don’t strip! Come to our studio practice session and I will show you how it works”.

Since then, I’ve been hooked. I tried a month and a half of pole dancing in Hong Kong then enrolled myself at iSpin when I got back to Canberra.  It was a month before Christmas.  During those 3 months of pole training my body slowly got back on track again and I could function properly without any help.

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Unfortunately, my health went south after the Christmas and New Year’s break. It got so bad, I spent most of the time crying, unable to cope with the pain. Fortunately my GP was able to diagnose my genetic condition, and I was referred to a specialist for treatment. The medicine I was prescribed controlled the inflammation in my joints but I was still in a lot of pain.

However, I returned to pole dancing. It was the only thing that really kept the pain away. All the stretching and pole tricks strengthened my muscles and at the same time released the pain. Yes, even now every kick and every stretch hurts but it is good pain. I feel great after pole class.

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I have also made a bunch of friends who are so supportive and keep me going. They encourage me whenever I want to give up. I love iSpin and I love my pole buddies, so much so that it has become my second home.

I am one of the few patients in my clinic who does not require a wheel chair or walking stick. All the doctors and nurses are so impressed with the improvement of my condition, they can barely believe I have it at all. After fifteen years living with a walking stick I am finally stick free and happy. I can look after my kids and run around with them.

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Yes, I understand a lot of people out there have the wrong perspective on pole fitness, I was one of them. For me it isn’t just a sport, it’s also my therapy. I have learned to stop comparing myself with others. I now believe you should only compare yourself to the old you, and keep challenging yourself to change and grow. The outcome is always unexpected.

I say, be your own HERO!

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