From Junk Food to Pole Splits

How Polecats Manila’s Christina Dy reclaimed her health from a destructive lifestyle through pole dancing.

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Is it possible to turn a life around armed with just newfound passion? Christina Dy, founder of and instructor at Polecats Manila, did just that. Today, Christina—who goes by CD—spins, climbs, and does airborne splits on a pole without breaking a sweat. But it was a completely different story more than a decade ago.

“I led the life of a couch potato back then,” says CD, who is also a visual artist. “I was drawing a lot so I was just sitting the whole day with bad posture. And because I was poor and couldn’t buy the healthy choices, my diet consisted of junk food.”

It didn’t help that the guy she used to date played in a band—CD was always out watching gigs at night. “I had little sleep, and didn’t really rest,” she says. “I would make up for it with coffee and sugar the next day. It was a terrible lifestyle.” At 5 feet tall, she weighed 125 pounds.

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A positive spin

CD’s harmful routine ended when her relationship did. Ultimately, this was what saved her but back then, it was understandably difficult for CD to put a positive spin on her situation.

To cheer her up, a friend took her to a pole-dancing strip-tease class. Before then, CD had no experience in even dancing in general. She was so self-conscious that she wore a T-shirt and big shorts to the class to cover up. “I couldn’t do anything because I was so out of shape,” CD says. “The next day, I couldn’t even lift my spoon to eat because my arm was so painful.”

Despite the pain, she still went back to class. “I was challenged,” she says. “Pole [dancing] gave me something I could focus on that was different from everything else.”

But this new chapter in her life didn’t start out smoothly. “Because no one really knew how to teach pole dancing properly back then, I got a lot of injuries,” says CD. “When my teacher suddenly left after giving a few months of classes, I decided to teach pole dancing myself. So I went with a friend to Hong Kong to get certified to teach pole dancing.”

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Passion for pole

Back in Manila, CD was ready. In 2009, she put together a syllabus, divided classes into levels, and officially launched Polecats Manila. It inspired CD to overhaul her lifestyle.

These days, she wakes up at 5 am and is in the Polecats studio by 7 am. “I’ve programmed my schedule so that I never have to hurry. I have a leisurely breakfast every day, take a long shower, and even have time to sit and write in my journal.” She’s even adjusted her diet.

Junk food is all but forgotten in CD’s pantry. Because of extreme skin allergies, CD has no choice but to eat healthier. With help from a wellness center, she now watches what she eats, and gorges on vegetables and organic ingredients. She’s now down to 94 pounds.

“I’m so much stronger now,” she says. “I haven’t gotten sick, and I sleep better. My skin is clearer. And I don’t allow anything to stress me out. Everything comes effortlessly to me now, like lifting myself on the pole. Because of how I shaped my activities, I’m able to actually create the things that were just in my head before. Life is super good.”

What makes it all the more pleasant is the fact that CD planned and worked hard to achieve this healthy lifestyle. It didn’t just happen in a day. She explains: “People ask me how I got healthy. It was a process and it involved just three steps.”

For her, the first thing you need to do is identify your goal. “For me, after finding out that no one knew how to properly teach pole dancing in Manila, my goal was to learn all I could about teaching [it].” She then made a plan on how to achieve her goal. “I knew I had to do it scientifically. So I set out to get certified to teach pole dancing. For that, I had to take many online courses, including anatomy and first-aid.”

Lastly, and probably the most difficult part of any fitness plan, is sticking to it. “This was hard to do because of my allergies. Sometimes, I had to stay home because I was itchy all over. That’s why I had to go to a wellness center so they could find out what was wrong and they could tell me what I couldn’t eat. So now I have a very strict diet, where the list of what I can’t eat is longer than the list of what I can eat. It’s difficult, but because I’m eating well, it’s helping me achieve my goal. I had to make a decision, and one day, I just decided to be healthy. I’ve never looked back.”

Photos courtesy of Christina Dy and Zep Rivera