Meet Your New Favourite Workout–Pole Dancing.

Just a short ride away from Kingston’s Penrhyn Road campus is what could be the city’s newest fitness hotspot. Every week, dancers from all walks of life gather at The Pole Studio in Surbiton with the common goal of getting in shape, looking good and having a great time.

Located above a chip shop on Portsmouth Road, the dance studio is unassuming and cosy. Dancers leave their shoes by the door, hurry up the carpeted stairs, and are greeted with silver practice poles dotted around the small—yet comfortable—space.

While pole fitness used to be a taboo sport, in recent years it has gained popularity among both men and women. A combination of strength training, conditioning and acrobatics, this is a workout that encourages cardiovascular health while simultaneously working the arms, legs and core muscles.

The result is a full-body workout that anyone can do, either in a group setting or 1-on-1 with an instructor.

It was this all-in-one workout that helped draw 31-year-old Siobhan Parish to The Pole Studio. Lessons are held once a week and run for approximately one hour—long enough to work up a sweat, but not long enough to exhaust participants.

As a working mother, this 60-minute pole fitness model offers her both a convenient workout and an opportunity to de-stress from the workweek.

“You can see yourself develop, unlike at the gym, and you get better in a number of ways,” Parish said. “(Pole) makes me feel stronger—I like the way after, a few weeks, quite a few weeks, things start to get a bit tighter and it just makes me feel good.”

Jaime Rangeley, an instructor at the Surbiton location, has been practicing both dance and pole for years. An expat from California, she found pole fitness to be a helpful way to meet people when she moved to England, and has continued dancing ever since.

“Everybody’s super nice and welcoming, and (pole fitness is) just a really great way to make friends,” Rangeley said.

At The Pole Studio, Rangeley has taught dancers of all sizes, ages and genders, and feels that the environment that pole fitness creates is a more wholesome one than can be found at the average gym—a sentiment that Parish supports, having just finished her first set of beginner classes.

“Everyone I’ve ever had teach me or I’ve practiced with have been very lovely people,” Parish said.

For potential dancers who are afraid to take the leap into pole fitness, Rangeley encourages them to take a one-off class or sign up for a beginner’s course.

“You’ll see that as you get to know everybody, nobody cares when you start to wear the shorter shorts and stuff like that, you feel totally comfortable,” Rangeley said. “You’re never forced to wear anything you don’t want to or to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, and you’ll find that you’ll actually have a laugh, and the workout is like an added bonus.”

The Pole Studio has locations across London and Surrey, with lessons for all levels of fitness—they even offer yoga classes, for the less adventurous among us. Prices start at £10 a class, with the beginner courses running for six weeks.

To find the perfect class for you, check out their main website for times, locations and individual pricing.

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5 Common Birth Control Myths, Debunked

Standardised birth control methods have been around since 1960, when the contraceptive pill was first approved.

Thankfully, since then, contraceptive science has evolved, but some misinformation about birth control seems to have stood the test of time.

Ever wondered if you really need to take the pill at the same time every day, or whether birth control will make you gain weight? Read on for some myth-busting facts that should put your mind at ease.

Myth #1: Birth control can ruin your fertility.

This is a common myth, but there is no scientific backing to this statement.

The shot, the pill, and even long-acting forms of contraception like the implant and IUDs do not hinder fertility. Vagina-holders who had irregular periods before starting birth control may see delayed ovulation, but that is due to their biological makeup–not their contraception.

So, rest easy. If/when you want to have a baby, your ovaries will still be in working order and ready for you to go for it.

Myth #2: Everyone’s on it because they’re having sex.

This antiquated view is just plain false. Birth control methods can be prescribed to help a myriad of issues including polycystic ovary syndrome, cramps, acne, period regulation and even depression.

In the UK, doctors won’t require you to be in a relationship or having sex to get the pill, either. If you’re honest about why you want to be on birth control, your doctor can provide you with the best option.

Myth #3: If I forget to take a pill, I will get pregnant.

Overslept your pill alarm, or forgot to take it before a night out? Relax, you’re (probably) protected. As long as you have taken your pills regularly until this point, you’ll be okay.

Don’t try and double up–that can lead to nausea and vomiting, which counteracts taking them in the first place. If you had sex, don’t rush out to buy Plan B–again, you run a high risk of getting unnecessary nausea and vomiting.

Pills do not have to be taken every 24 hours on the exact dot, and everyone misses them. Make a note not to do it again, and carry on. If you find yourself often missing doses, ask your doctor about other contraceptive methods like the IUD, patch or implant.

Myth #4: Birth control isn’t effective if you’re overweight

The only truth to this myth is that, based on a small amount of data, the pill and emergency contraception is slightly less effective in women with a BMI over 30.

However, plenty of doctors will still prescribe the pill to overweight and obese patients, because the effectiveness is still very high. Additionally, long-acting and reversible methods of contraception (the implant or IUD, for instance) are equally effective in underweight, normal, overweight or obese individuals.

Myth #5: Birth control makes you gain weight

Google nearly any medication, and it’ll likely autocomplete the phrase with “weight gain.” Unfortunately, birth control isn’t immune to this hysteria, but you can relax: the majority of birth control methods don’t cause weight gain.

The only recent, substantial data about weight gain on birth control comes from a study involving the contraceptive shot. Individuals using this method generally do gain weight, but only when they use this method of contraception.

More often than not, environmental factors are to blame for weight gain–you’re in a better mood, feel more comfortable, or you’re just bloated from your incoming period. But, if you find yourself struggling to lose weight with exercise and diet, it can be worth evaluating your birth control.

Don’t let the fear of gaining weight keep you from seeking out contraception, and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if you’re concerned about any aspect of your contraception.

If you’re interested in changing your birth control, or getting on it for the first time, you can drop by the Wolverton Centre in Kingston Hospital or schedule an appointment with a GP at the Penrhyn Road Campus.


Looking for some additional protection? Check out our article on Hanx’s new all-natural, vegan condoms here.

The Bloody Truth Behind Menstruation

Menstruation – It’s painful, bloody, and downright annoying. The unpleasant yet necessary cycle of menstruation affects nearly 50% of the world’s population — yet the topic is incredibly hush-hush and deemed taboo to speak about.

Anyone with a vagina has been there: you need to ask a friend for a sanitary product, but you’re uncomfortable saying the words out loud. But why is this? What is it about periods that make women feel uncomfortable to speak outwardly about them?

Depictions of menstruation in media – including film, advertisements, video games, social media, etc. – have always been particularly problematic. The media’s representation generally does not convey what menstruation is actually like, but rather demonstrates a glorified version that seeks to make audience members more comfortable with a manipulated version of menstruation.

Ads are especially guilty of adopting this sugarcoated image of menstruation. These advertisements are usually selling sanitary products and, in order to boost sales, depict the women on screen as being happy and physically active, conveying the idea that if you buy these tampons, you will also be happy and active!

This image is particularly absurd to most period-having humans; when you’re on your period, all you want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) is painful and uncomfortable and ugly–and no matter how effective a tampon is, women on their period typically don’t want to perform a ballet recital or go rock climbing.

Advertisements are also notorious for specifically not showing period blood, despite the fact that their products exist for the sake of combating menstrual bleeding. Rather than the standard colour of blood – red – advertisements use a mysterious blue liquid to represent period blood.

The use of this blue liquid isn’t only found in sanitary product commercials; indeed, it can be seen in advertisements for toothpaste, diapers, paper towels, and more. Why do advertisements do this?

This sterile blue colour is often used in advertisements to denote cleanliness. The blue liquid elicits images of pure, clean water, and directly opposes any unsavoury thoughts of blood or bodily fluids. 

The use of this blue liquid also stems from quite problematic origins, some of which are deeply rooted in cultural norms. This allusion to cleanliness perpetuates the notion that menstruation is unclean and impure, a belief shared by the texts of many cultures and religions. This idea is also often seen in mainstream media and films, such as Carrie (1976), in which Carrie’s mother believes that her period is a symbol of sin.

While menstrual product advertisements do not necessarily mean to imply that periods are impure, companies tend to portray menstruation in a veil of beauty and happiness.

This perpetuates the notion that menstruation should be a clean experience, as a means to combat the inherent impurities of menstrual bleeding. This depiction is particularly effective as advertisements are ubiquitous and accessible, and therefore viewed by larger audiences, which subconsciously perpetuates these ideals without audiences knowing it.

The depiction of menstruation extends past advertisements. Not only is it misrepresented in mainstream media, but it is often actively censored.

A photo that poet and activist Rupi Kaur posted to her Instagram account of her bleeding through her pants was flagged and removed from the Internet. Since the photo technically met the official Instagram guidelines, it was eventually reuploaded; however, Kaur did not go quietly into that good night.

rupikaur-period1-454x341 Photo credit: Rupi Kaur

In response, she wrote, “I will not apologise for not feeding the ego and pride of misogynist society that will have my body in an underwear but not be okay with a small leak.  When your pages are filled with countless photos/accounts where women (so many who are underage) are objectified.”

This, and sanitised media depictions, are just some of the many ways that menstruation is stigmatised and stereotyped and deemed gross or offensive, ultimately making it a taboo subject.

While this information can be disheartening, it is important to remember to celebrate companies that are attempting initiatives to end stigmas surrounding menstruation.

For example, Libresse is an international brand of feminine hygiene products that has recently initiated a campaign called “Blood Normal” that seeks to “banish the blue liquid that conventionally stands in for period blood in ads and instead shows real-life scenarios of young women dealing with their periods.”

The hope is that more mainstream companies will adopt similar ideals, ultimately working to collectively end stigmas surrounding menstruation. In the end, perhaps someday, women may not have to whisper about their periods and treat them like they’re secrets.

Watch the Blood Normal campaign video here.