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I Do Pole Fitness

Nicola Gledhill

News

4/09/2006





I do pole fitness.
For those who don’t know (and I’ll assume that’s most of you) pole fitness is pole dancing for the purpose of keeping fit and having fun. So throw away your previous assumptions – poles aren’t just for strippers!
Pole fitness is a workout. I’ll admit it’s a little different, but it works. And it’s a good laugh. I went to my first pole fitness class after picking up a pamphlet from Vicky’s in January (back when it was still Vicky’s). I was curious (who wouldn’t be?) so I convinced my friend to come with me for the first class. That first class was taken at Santa Fe with an instructor who was working there part-time to fund her Law degree. She could also speak five languages, proof that being a stripper does not mean you have to be a bimbo. She was so encouraging and professional that our initial self-consciousness soon melded into enthusiasm and from then on we became pole fitness regulars.
Though the classes are popular, pole fitness is still relatively underground in New Zealand when compared to Europe, the UK and Australia. Are we prudish about the fact that classes are held at a strip club? If so, then in the words of bad Otago University ads: ‘Oh, get over it’. To clarify what pole fitness is (and isn’t), read on.
It would be fair to say that misassumptions of pole fitness are generally based on deep seated beliefs that pole dancing is ‘dirty’ and probably involves stripping. It doesn’t. It also does not involve:
• Rubbing one’s crotch against the pole
• Learning how to give lap dances
• Extreme strength or flexibility (although to be honest, it helps)
• A strip club
Most people assume that pole fitness (or pole dancing, I use the terms interchangeably myself) requires one, if not all, of the above. This is a false assumption probably based on the obvious relationship between pole dancing and strip clubs. The truth is that pole dancing is common in, but not restricted to, the context of strip clubs. When performed outside of this context, i.e when you take away the nakedness, the alcohol factor and the male audience, you get a very different concept. Here is my interpretation of pole fitness:
• A workout which involves both cardio and strength training
• A performance similar to dance, involving a pole, that can be sexy without being overly provocative
• A way to build confidence through performance in a safe and comfortable environment
Like any form of performance, it’s all about the style of presentation. The effect that pole dancing will have depends on a person’s own particular style and the way they present themselves. Pole dancing has potential to be seductive, impressive, graceful and powerful, but everyone develops a unique style. A stripper can choose to be provocative or seductive in her dancing. I’ve done years of ballet dancing, so my style tends to be graceful. Others in the class can put more power and strength behind the moves than I can. Pole fitness is essentially a strength-based workout. Strength will improve as you go, and core strength is a must for the more advanced moves. It’s an awesome way to get fit and tone up. You know how strippers have good bodies? That’s ‘cos they get a serious workout every time they get up on stage. You do sweat. You do get sore the next day. You do get some mammoth bruises when you start up (which is unfortunately unavoidable), but you also learn some killer moves. Each hourlong class involves stretching, instruction, practise and ‘freestyle’ self-choreography, usually done in pairs. Pole moves usually involve spinning (forwards, backwards and upside-down) but there is also a bit of floorwork, cage dancing and ‘in-between’ moves. Pole moves have names like theair spin, the backwards knee spin, the ‘V’ spin, and the superman. Pole fitness classes in Wellington are based at Santa Fe and run from 6-7 (Advanced) and 7-8 (Beginners) on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The poles are wiped regularly with an alcohol-based solution, both for hygiene reasons and to help prevent slipping –and you need a serious hold on that sucker, especially while upside-down, or we’re looking at injuries! Participants usually wear short-shorts as all the pole moves require skin-to-pole contact. Heels are optional, but recommended. The Santa Fe classes are women only, with female instructors. That said, there are some places which hold all-male classes, but there’s not so much of a market.
So know the facts before you judge. Even let your curiosity get the better of you and have a go. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of New Zealand catches on. It may take some getting used to, but pole fitness keeps you looking and feeling good. And it’s a whole heap of fun.