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Lately I’ve tried to reclaim something unknown to me in the past five years – a “hobby”.

Men seem good at keeping up with hobbies after children arrive. Mr P continued to manage a (somewhat success-challenged) Sunday league football team during early days of parenthood.

It didn’t happen without a fight, however. He reduced sporting commitments from five times per week to two, after I had a complete meltdown in a parenting workshop ahead of Little Miss Picken No 1’s arrival. Martial arts classes became the casualty of becoming a dad.

Even now, after the demise of MPAD Utd, Mr P is a committed runner and loves challenge events. He can even be spotted on Christmas morning, donning a Santa hat in driving Cornish rain running up Truro’s Mitchell Hill. He reckons running is his equivalent of messing about in a shed.

Meanwhile, my hobbies can’t really be described as such. Fiddling about on Facebook, wine appreciation, hiding in the bath. Nothing that really counts as fulfilling, challenging, expanding one’s horizons…

Until now – I put up a post on Facebook asking for suggestions for a new hobby. The rule was, it had to be active and not too sedentary to counteract my desk job. An impressive 23 suggestions came back including tennis, ukulele playing, wild swimming, yoga, rugby, roller derby, being a groupie (tried that, tremendous fun), bee-keeping and DJing.

But my fate was sealed when a post popped up on social media for Vixystrawberry Pole School. This is not to learn Polish, as some have suggested, but pole fitness – pole dancing to some.

I booked immediately. It felt spontaneous, random, not too far away from dance training I did in my childhood and teens, although apparently very popular – there are classes all over Cornwall now.

Gone are connotations with exotic dancing, although it has caused some sniggering amongst my male employees.

For the first time in ages, my mind and body are focussed on the task in hand, and not fretting about work or domestics. My last hobby, yoga, I’ve been known to lie there during the relaxation session fretting about budgets and team capacity.

Our instructor Vicky is incredibly zen, while her sidekick Catherine is bubbly and enthusiastic. The only rules are you aren’t allowed to use the C word – can’t. I’ve learnt at least a dozen spins, how to climb the pole, and a whole lot more about what my poor frazzled mummy body can achieve.

The best bit: women of all ages, shapes and sizes, from teens to 40 somethings and possibly 50 somethings, all supportive and proud of each other’s achievements.

The worst bit: interesting bruising on tender parts of your arms and legs.

I’ve just finished my first six week Level One course, which means I graduate to Level Two and onwards, including upside down moves. Watch this space, Mr P is soon to become a Pole Widower.

Written for the West Briton, published here

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