Climb to new ﬁtness level
Put away your negative thoughts, the pole dancing trend is more fitness than sleaze. Not only does it increase self-esteem and confidence, pole dancing is also great for all-over toning and shaping, increasing strength, bone density and muscle mass (incidentally, one of the best ways to burn fat), and improves flexibility, cardio fitness and co-ordination. At a glance, the Lola’s Pole School studio in Shepparton appears to be like any other dance space – smooth floor with mirrored walls... there’s just several floor-to-ceiling metal poles throughout the room. And far from being intimidating, the space is cosy and inviting, filled with laughter and idle chatter between the six or so girls there to try the class. The class begins with a gentle warm-up and stretch, which feels amazing after sitting slouched at a desk all week. The class also incorporates core muscle work and strength training. Much to my stomach muscles’ disgust, we have to do crunches and planks (a torturous strength exercise of holding yourself in a plank position using your abdominal muscles).
It’s halfway through the class, and I can already feel how much strength and fitness is required – my leg muscles are shaking with the effort and my arms are aching.
It’s halfway through the class, and I can already feel how much strength and ﬁtness is required . . .
Crazy new ﬁtness fads are forever appearing, and the latest is something way off the radar – pole dancing. Jenna Bishop ﬁnds out more.
The instructor, Michelle, assures us that it gets easier once you build strength – and using your thighs to hold yourself up on the pole hurts less and less each time. We look at her incredulously; at this point in time it seems inconceivable that it could get easier, but it does. Elicia Bothwell, 24, has been taking pole dancing classes for two terms, and now has the strength to hold herself upside-down on the pole without using her hands.
Lola’s Pole School instructor Michelle demonstrates one of the tricks you can learn through pole dancing. We move onto learning a routine, which is surprisingly easy for someone like me who is notoriously clumsy. I eye the pole cautiously, absolutely certain that my arms could never hold me up, nor could I jump high enough to get far up the pole. After a miserable first attempt and the encouragement of Michelle, I find the confidence to jump up, and can successfully hold myself halfway up the pole. The rush of euphoria as I discover that I’m capable of this trick gives me the biggest confidence boost I’ve had in a long time.
Elicia said her level of fitness and core strength had increased dramatically, “without a shadow of a doubt”.
By the time the class finishes we’ve put together a 30-second routine, and I feel like I’ve just completed a full session at the gym: walking down the stairs to the car was extremely difficult.
“You can feel the difference – when I first started, I couldn’t hold myself up and now I can,” she said.
Pole dancing is fun, rewarding and a completely unique approach to fitness – but beware the aching muscles the next day! ■
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