When I showed up at the gym one Saturday morning to try a pole dance class with Polenastics, I was nervous. I was imagining young, thin, limber women performing acrobatic feats. I am a suburban mom of two in her mid thirties. Like many thirtysomething suburban moms I am not the size I used to be, and I am not as flexible as I used to be, either. Would I just fall flat on my rear end and embarrass myself? Would I be in class filled with much more youthful and bendy women? And what exactly would I be learning to do, anyway?
Pole Dance is Serious Business
Pole dance – or pole fitness – got its start in strip clubs, as you are probably aware. However, the class I attended was held at a local fitness studio that also holds pre- and post-natal fitness classes. We all wore shorts and T-shirts or tank tops, and went barefoot. If you ignored the poles, it didn’t look much different from any other fitness class as we pulled out mats and sat down to stretch.
Once we were warm it was time to really try pole dance. The class is mostly individual, with each student working on their own moves at their own pace. As the newbie, the instructor showed me some moves first. Within five minutes I was doing some basic spins on the pole, trying out my own baby fireman and chair moves. It seemed deceptively easy at first, and I was enormously pleased with myself. However, as I practiced the moves I started to feel it – my arms were getting a serious workout. I developed a blister on my pinkie finger, which the instructor attended to. I got “pole burn” on my right wrist, and a bruise on my left thigh. Pole dance, it turns out, is serious business – and the fact that I was sore for days after only confirmed just how hard my muscles had worked.
Confidence, Strength and Flexibility
I had the chance to sit in on an advanced pole dance class as well. The participants in this class were mostly moms, and they were all shapes and sizes. They were doing inversions – that is, flipping upside down while hanging on to the pole – and they were also working at their own pace. Watching them, I saw serious athleticism, as well as a sense of camaraderie. They cheered each other on when they pulled off a great move, and encouraged each other when they were struggling. At its root, this was not a performance, this was about the participants gaining strength, flexibility and confidence for themselves.
In talking to the other students from both classes, most of whom had been doing pole dance for under a year, the benefits were clear. They talked about how mastering difficult moves made them feel better about their bodies and shown them what they were really capable of. And make no mistake – these moves they’re learning are hard. They’re really working at it, and they have the calluses, bruises and skills to prove it. I could see why pole fitness has taken such a strong hold – and it really has. It has its own superstars, who sign the poles at the studio when they give special workshops. And yet, it’s accessible enough that in a single session you can learn some cool moves yourself. If you’ve ever been curious, I would absolutely recommend giving it a try. It will totally surprise you.
Polenastics currently runs classes in Burnaby and Port Moody, and they have plans to establish their own studio in New Westminster in the fall. They also do parties, choreographed routine classes and conditioning classes for women 18 years old and up. Visit www.polenastics.ca or call 778-998-7354 for more information.