5 Things you need to know before you try pole dancing

by Wanita Nicol

Pole dancing is having a revival. Thinking of trying it, but don’t know what to expect? Read this honest description…

A few years ago, pole dancing was the in thing to do with your girls. Then the fad passed. Because, after all, it’s not really exercise, right? More like something you do just so you can throw it into conversation with the office hottie when you want to sound more mysterious than your pantsuit allows. Well, pole is back, baby! And three weeks into my #WHGetsFit winter fitness challenge, I can assure you, with aching muscles, that it is absolutely exercise. That was my first lesson. Here are five more things I’ve learnt.

1. It’s A Full Body Workout

Yes, upper body strength is important, but it’s only one piece of a pretty big puzzle. You’ll spend most of the class up on your toes, strengthening your calves. You’ll learn to sit and stand on the pole, hands free, through sheer thigh strength alone. And you’ll get to know your abs really well because you’ll be feeling them. Every. Single. Day.
I’ve learnt: Get to class in time for the warm-up. It makes a big difference.

2. You Will Have Bruises

And grazes. And callouses. In the pole community, they’re affectionately called “pole bites” and typically show up on the tops of your feet, inner legs, knees, upper arms…anywhere a hard metal pole is pressing against your skin. Want to hear something crazy? You’ll reach a point – sooner than you think – where you’re proud of these visual reminders that you mastered something new.

I’ve learnt: Push through the pain. Your first two or three classes are going to hurt like hell, but pain’s not going to kill you. Grit your teeth, squeeze that pole and when you let go your hands for the first time, you’ll feel so freaking elated that you’ll forget it was sore. Promise!

3. You Need To Be Graceful

Even if you call it “pole fitness” and consider it a sport, like I do, pole is at its heart a performance art. Brute strength isn’t going to make you good at it – you’re going to need some grace and coordination, neither of which I naturally possess.

I’ve learnt: A friend who’s seasoned and accomplished at pole gave me the best advice ever – whatever you do, always point your toes and pretend you’re performing. You’ll find the moves just work better and your body flows into them more fluidly than you thought it could.

4. You Need To Bare Some Skin

Unless your studio has silicone poles (unlikely) the only way to get any kind of traction is through skin contact. That means short-shorts (preferably hot pants), bare feet and sleeveless tank tops will be your uniform.

I’ve learnt: Nobody will be looking at your flabby upper arms or the way your thighs turn to cottage cheese when you’re gripping the pole – including you. You’ll be too busy giving yourself mental high fives for what your body just accomplished to worry about its minor flaws.

5. It’s A Sport And Doing It Makes You An Athlete, Not A Stripper

Think Madame Zingara or Cirque du Soleil – those are the kinds of badass moves you’re going to be mastering. Your classmates will be ordinary women of all shapes and sizes who are there to get fit and have some fun doing it.

I’ve learnt: When you tell people you’re doing pole fitness, most of them say things like, “That’s a workout, hey!” or “You must be really strong!” No winks, no side eyes, just genuine admiration. So don’t feel embarrassed – own it.

I’m doing pole dancing at poledancecapetown.co.za with the goal of learning to do a human flag (yikes!) and staying fit through winter. Follow me on Instagram and tag me in your workout pics using #TeamWanita and I could be inviting you join a WH team workout.

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