Pole dancing instructor, 39, fell in love with her student, 29, after he joined her class despite worrying about being the ‘creep in the corner’ – and says performing together has made them closer
- Bella Monnery, 39, fell in love with Lawrence Trousdale-Smith, 29, at a pole class
- Pole instructor started giving him one-to-one classes near home in West Sussex
- The couple fell in love and now perform routines together at showcases
A couple who met at a pole dancing class reveal how performing routines has brought them closer together.
Bella Monnery, 39, fell in love with Lawrence Trousdale-Smith, 29, when she started giving him one-to-one sessions after meeting at the pole dancing class she runs near her home in Worthing, West Sussex.
Former kickboxing instructor Bella started pole dancing after earning her blackbelt and began posting her complex moves on Instagram which connected her with others in the local fitness community,
The strength-based workout attracted personal trainer Lawrence, who, at the time, was teaching calisthenics – a type of workout that relies solely on a person’s own bodyweight.
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Bella Monnery, 39, fell in love with Lawrence Trousdale-Smith, 29, from West Sussex performing the flag move
Since Lawrence joined the pole group in 2018, Bella has taught him all her favourite moves
Bella said the couple were good friends but as training developed it was clear they had feelings for each other
And since Lawrence joined the pole group in 2018, Bella has taught him all her favourite moves and the couple now perform routines at pole-dancing showcases.
Bella, who revealed how the couple became good friends before falling in love, said: ‘Pole-dancing has definitely brought us closer together. There’s a lot of trust involved with some of the moves – you’re literally holding one another up.
‘It took us months to become a couple but training together in the meantime meant we got to know each other really well, so built a great foundation as friends first.’
And Lawrence said that when he joined Bella’s class romance could not have been further from his mind.
He said: ‘When I went along to my first pole class I wasn’t worried about the sport itself or being able to do the moves – it was more that I didn’t want to be perceived as the creep in the corner.
‘It’s a very female-dominated world, and I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.
With Lawrence impressed by Bella’s skills and keen to perfect a ‘flag’ move, he asked if she could coach him one-on-one
Bella learned pole dancing after gaining her blackbelt in kickboxing. The couple now perform routines at showcases in front of up to 300 people
‘Bella was a great trainer and really pushed the athleticism of it. Though it might look graceful and effortless, there’s an awful lot of strength involved in pole, too.
‘We’d spent a lot of time together training and we built up a strong friendship but overtime it became inevitable that we had feelings for each other.’
Bella learned pole dancing after gaining her blackbelt in kickboxing which meant she needed a new challenge to work towards.
After spotting a studio offering pole-dancing classes, around eight years ago, Bella tried it and has never looked back.
‘I’ve loved pole since day one,’ she said. ‘After mastering it as a student, I decided that I wanted to become a teacher, so I went on two courses – one beginners and one advanced – to qualify.’
Once she was a fully-fledged instructor, Bella began leading between 12 and 15 classes a week.
While posting videos of her progress on social media, the couple started chatting online and agreed to try each other’s classes in 2018.
‘I went along to one of his, then he came to a pole-dancing class with me,’ Bella explained. ‘Pole-dancing is a very female world.
‘Men do it, but nowhere near as much. I think out of my 100 or so clients, maybe five of them are men.
The couple show off a move that requires extraordinary strength as they rehearse together
Despite Lawrence being concerned about what people thought, Bella said: ‘Pole is open to anybody, and my classes are all about building up strength.
‘Plus, when you’re on the pole, you really don’t look at what anyone else is doing – you just want to master your moves.’
With Lawrence impressed by Bella’s skills – and keen to perfect a ‘flag’ move, where a dancer grips the pole with both hands and holds their body out at a 90 degree angle – he asked if she could coach him one-on-one.
Bella continued: ‘I hadn’t expected him to want to try pole in the first place, so I was surprised when he asked for more training.
Bella revealed how the couple can do all sorts of moves including the famous Dirty Dancing lift (pictured)
Lawrence would come along three times a week to Bella’s classes. Bella revealed how the first class was harder than what Lawrence first thought
‘I think that first class was harder than he thought, but he did really well.
‘I agreed to coach him and we were initially just friends, but eventually fell in love. ‘
Before the coronavirus lockdown, Bella was teaching classes nearly every day where Lawrence would come along three times a week and also train in the gym together.
Since then they have even appeared in showcases as a double act, working together to choreograph complex pole routines, which they then perform in front up to 300 people.
And after the gyms and fitness studios have closed to combat the spread of Covid-19, the pair have installed a pole at home to practise on.
‘Lawrence coming to my classes was partly so he could train, but also so he could see and spend time with me,’ said Bella. ‘Otherwise we would both get so busy that we barely saw each other.
The pair have installed a pole at home to practise on after fitness studios and gyms have closed following the lockdown
‘And he needn’t have ever worried about making anyone else in the class uncomfortable – he’s one of the girls now.
‘Doing the showcases, which are a way of displaying your skills without the pressure of a competition, takes a lot of work.
‘We’ll be crafting our routine for months, and practising for about eight weeks beforehand, on top of all our other workouts.
‘Usually, Lawrence is the one that lifts me when we do floor work, then I hold him up on the pole. We can do all sorts of moves together, including the famous Dirty Dancing lift.’
Praising the virtues of pole-dancing, Bella explained that, not only has it allowed her to find her love, it has introduced her to a community of like-minded people, and made her body-confidence soar.
Bella said: ‘Usually, Lawrence is the one that lifts me when we do floor work, then I hold him up on the pole’
Bella is encouraging people to re-think pole as not something solely for exotic nightclub dancers. She said the routines are empowering rather than sleazy
And by sharing her story she wants to encourage people to have a go and dispel myths that it is the sole reserve of exotic nightclub dancers.
‘There are still some people out there who think of pole as something exotic dancers do in clubs but I think the majority of people have opened their eyes and now know there’s more to it than that,’ she explained.
‘There is still that sexy side to it and specific classes where you can learn dance routines, but it is empowering rather than sleazy.
The fitness instructor revealed how her classes focus on strength and allow people to push themselves
‘My classes are all about strength, and the thing I love about pole is that you can always push yourself harder. There’s always something new to learn, or a nemesis move to crack.
She continued: ‘I hope people out there toying with giving it a try aren’t put off by the misconceptions.
‘The hardest part is walking through the door into that first class, but it’s worth it just to see for yourself what an actual pole class is like.
‘Everyone in pole classes are so supportive of each other, and always encouraging each other to do the best they can do.
Bella revealed how they perfect their showcase routines for months. She revealed how pole dancing is open to everyone (pictured with Lawrence)
‘Not only is it good for you physically, but it’s good for your self-esteem and body confidence.
Bella added: ‘I used to hate wearing shorts, for example, and would always cover my body up – until I learnt that bare skin is better for gripping onto the pole, so the more I got into it, the shorter my shorts got.
‘All bodies are welcome at pole and when you’re in the zone you’re not thinking about shape or size – you just want to nail that tricky move.’
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