Something that I strive for in each of our podcasts—and something that our audience has written in to say that they appreciate—is having an honest, open conversation about the realities of being active while also being chronically ill. This week’s interview with Kat Stokes is a perfect example of that.
Kat Stokes is an engineer, a pole fitness enthusiast, and a fibromyalgia warrior from the UK. She shares with us that she first began noticing symptoms of fibromyalgia at age 18 and was diagnosed 2.5 years later. Kat says that her fibromyalgia feels like being jabbed by a red hot poker, like there’s lava inside her body.
After the onset of her symptoms, Kat found herself feeling depressed and stuck in a work-sleep-repeat schedule, so she began looking for a source of joy. Roughly a year after her symptoms started, she found yoga.
Following a year of yoga, Kat started finding ways to add more strength training into her schedule. With the advice of a friend—“You don’t know what you’re capable of doing until you go and do it”—Kat walked into her first pole fitness studio and was hooked immediately. While she didn’t have a diagnosis at the time, Kat did know that, as she shares, “I walked out feeling stronger than what I walked in at. I felt much happier. I felt mentally released. It was just incredible.”
The first pole fitness move Kat worked on was the dip spin. In the studio, she doesn’t often do floor work, instead working on strength and control. Kat incorporates cross training (in the form of yoga and time at the gym) into her workout program and trains on the pole once a week, in a 2-hour session complete with a warm-up and cool-down and exercises chosen for her by her pole fitness tutor. Training with fibromyalgia, Kat listens to her body and takes its comments seriously.
At the end of our conversation, Kat shares some serious real talk about body image, self-worth, and self-love. Something that has been especially helpful for her has been the use of affirmative self-talk while standing in front of a mirror. She also discussed the fear she felt when going to a gym for the first time. Kat emphasized the importance of wearing a power outfit, going with a friend, and knowing that everyone else is too concerned with their own workout to judge gym newbies.
Links from our discussion:
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Photograph by: Denyer
Podcast music by: Caleb Ritchie