If your brief is to tone up, improve fitness, and have fun along the way, then this latest exercise craze could be just right for you, writes personal trainer Andrew Cate.
Pole dancing sleazy? When it lifts your fitness, mood and energy level, we think not. Pole dancing as exercise continues to grow in popularity as an alternative or complement to traditional fitness classes.
What are the benefits of pole dancing?
Some of the health and fitness pluses associated with regular participation in pole dancing classes include:
- Improved cardiovascular fitness
- Increased flexibility
- Improved strength and muscle tone
- Improved balance, posture and core stability
- Improved self-confidence and body image from learning a new skill
- Enjoyment and laughter
As part of an overall health and fitness program, pole dancing can also contribute to increased bone density and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Will pole dancing help with weight loss?
While not ideal for using body fat as fuel, a pole dancing class can be a beneficial component of a weight-reduction program. Combined with other fat burning exercises such as fast walking, pole dancing will challenge your body in a different way and add variety to your routine. What's more, you will burn more than 1000 kilojoules per class.
What's involved in a pole dancing class?
Pole dancing classes are a fun fitness workout and are in no way associated with stripping or seedy smoke-filled rooms. Most pole dancing rooms look like a typical dance studio, with the addition of several poles fixed from floor to ceiling. The class usually includes a warm up, an aerobic phase, dance moves on the pole and some mobility work, with stretching to finish.
The dancing consists of spins, swinging, swaying, pole tricks and floor work to music. Dancing on the pole is the most strenuous part, which helps to develop muscular strength and tone in your hands, arms, upper back, abdominals, thighs and bottom.
Advanced pole dancers can even hang upside down, although most of the exercises have variations to help cater for different levels and abilities. A good instructor will make you feel at ease and have you performing some basic moves after your first class. Most classes are for women only.
If the thought of going to a pole dancing class is a bit intimidating, find a friend to go with you. Wear clothes you feel comfortable in, though bare arms and legs make it easier to grip the pole. It's also best to avoid oils or creams that make it harder to grip the pole.
You don't need any dancing experience to get started, although some positions are harder to learn than others. Like anything, it takes practice to master a new skill and time to develop the strength required to perform it well. Some participants have even been known to install a pole at home so they can practice.
If you can get over the stigma, you'll have a great time. Look for a fitness class in your area.