Livening up workouts with pole fitness
A lot of women try pole dancing as a lark, something fun and different to do for girls night out. To their surprise, they discover that pole dancing is quite challenging, and many enjoy it.
“Pole dancing is for any and everybody,” says KIARA MCKOY, a competitive pole dancer and owner of Kultural Pole & Arts, 412 South College Road. “People try it, realize it’s an extreme workout and something they find love for.”
Though pole dancing has a somewhat unsavory reputation among the uninformed, it has a long and illustrious history. It was a respected art form among the Chinese in the twelfth century, and some of those acrobatic moves are still included in pole dance repertoires today. In the past few years, pole dancing for fitness has gained in popularity as people realize the skill and artistry the sport requires.
Pole dancing is a full-body workout and offers a whole host of benefits. One of the first things pole dancers gain is strength. All that work on the pole leads to strong arms, shoulders, backs, legs, and cores.
Pole dancing is a cardio workout, too. Both its dance movements and its choreographed routines, which require sustained strength, get hearts thumping.
It takes about three or four months of consistent training for pole dance students to see changes in their bodies, according to McKoy. Those changes can be significant.
ILLISA KLEIN says she got much stronger and lost 55 pounds from pole dancing alone.
Pole dancing, however, isn’t for the faint of heart. Though beginners start at the basic level, all the workouts are intense.
In a typical class, students start with warm-up exercises, then learn tricks that are based on their skill level. The tricks are followed by conditioning exercises, which may be done with or without the pole, to help them gain the strength and flexibility to do the tricks safely. At the end of class, the tricks are put into routines the students perform.
At some studios, such as Kultural Pole & Arts, students can also take separate conditioning classes as well as yoga and dance classes.
The work pole dancers put into their classes is more than offset by the fulfillment they get from the sport, according to AMBER LAINHART, who has been pole dancing for seven years.
“It’s hard, but the excitement, empowerment, and beauty keep you coming back for more,” she says. “Each week you see improvement, and you really enjoy it. Pole dancing isn’t something I have to do. Instead, I get to go to pole class and climb and get fit and have fun at the same time.”
Pole dancing can also be a great confidence builder. As they get strong, master tricks on the pole, and learn to dance and move gracefully, pole dance students accomplish things they never dreamed they’d be able to do.
“With pole dancing, you have a sense of accomplishment and you’re always looking for new goals,” Klein says. “And when you consider those goals, you learn to say, ‘I’m not there yet, but I can do this.’ You are never a failure. Pole teaches you to stop saying, ‘I can’t’ about things.”
Pole dancing can help practitioners overcome negative body images, as well. In the sport, a dancer’s size or having a tummy or cellulite doesn’t matter. The focus is always on what the dancers are trying to achieve, and that is reinforced by the support they receive from each other.
That support, which starts with a student’s first class, is another reason the workouts have become popular.
And the support doesn’t wane, whether a dancer just attends class or competes.
“The other students in the class literally stop what they are doing to cheer on a classmate who is struggling with a trick,” Klein says.
Those who have taken up pole dancing as their fitness regime urge others to overcome their fears and give it a try.
“Just take one class,” Lainhart says. “Get out of your comfort zone and take a class. I guarantee you’ll get hooked.
To view more of photographer Terah Hoobler’s work, go to terahhoobler.com.
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