Have you tried this fun and skilled sport yet?

[Charlotte Gosling | The Herald]

Ever felt self-conscious about your body? Want to get fit and healthy while having fun and learning a new skill? Pole dancing could be the class for you.

Jo Greer set up female-only Pole Dance Plymouth eight years ago in a bid to improve ladies self love across the city.

And amazingly women are singing the sport’s praises not just for its physical fitness benefits but for helping them heal mentally as some claim it has helped them fight anxiety and depression.

Five women share their stories of how they regained their confidence both physically and mentally through her fun and dynamic Plympton pole dancing classes.

"Medication is not the only way you can get better - it didn't work for me."

— Samantha Sharpless

Mum Samantha Sharpless struggled with post-natal depression after the birth of her daughter but says the classes are her “happy place” and an outlet for any negativity in her life.

She had done a little pole dancing ten years previously and was keen to see if she could regain her passion for the hobby. Three and a half years later, she has certainly achieved that.

Instructor Jo has allowed her to bring her three-year-old along with her and Samantha said this has helped them to bond further.

It makes you feel so much more confident because it’s so inclusive,” she said. “As a mum it gives you time on your own but my little girl gets to be there too. It makes you feel normal and helps you realise that you can trust other people to look after your children.”

The former stewardess from Wembury said her medication was not working for her and she found that pole dancing became the outlet she needed to recover.

“Medication is not the only way you can get better – it didn’t work for me. The exercise releases endorphins and you have a focus where you can create something that looks really pretty at the same time.”And meeting like-minded women helped Samantha get back to her old self.

“You meet people that have been through a lot in their lives and it puts everything in perspective. You can lean on each other and we’re like one big studio family – everyone is there to listen to each other.”

Samantha says that she does not shy away from joining more of the raunchy lessons.

“They’re so much fun – lots of us wear six-inch heels. It’s just a chance to have fun with friends.”

"It's had such a positive impact on my psychological and emotional health."

— Chantelle Jarvis

Chantelle, a final year student in Nutritional Science, has battled with anxiety since she was a teenager and felt she had let it get the better of her in recent months.

She wanted to get involved in something that could take her out of her comfort zone and away from her everyday environment.

“Health and fitness has always been a great passion of mine. But I have battled with anxiety since I was a teenager and going through my final year is extremely stressful,” she said.

“I started pole fitness about three months ago and it’s had such a positive impact on my psychological and emotional health.

She added: “It’s easy to get carried away with life stresses and neglect you time and looking after yourself so going to pole every week is time out for me.

“I just love being a part of something – all the girls are so friendly and non judgemental.”