Want to learn? Go to pole classes. Seriously. And the classes seriously work out parts of your body you didn’t know you had. Like inner thigh muscles. You have to grip the pole with something when your hands are freewheeling it. Back arching is big. A big bonus? You’ll trim and tone those wobbly triceps.
And instructors in pole fitness classes will quickly dissuade you of seamy stereotypes associated with the pole – as evidenced in the opening line - but here’s a point they won’t have to persuade you of: first timers will be stiff the next day.
Don’t wet yourself. Better said, don’t moisturize before doing a pole class because you’ll slide off the pole faster than a dog licks a dish. And wait until you are adept before you try to pose on a pole upside down, or horizontally, or at an angle, or...Geez this stuff looks hard. You need focus. (You really need transverse abs.) This isn't power walking where you can chat with your friend. Here the dialog is internal: Can I do this? I want to do this. Now do it. I did it. I done rocked!
But wait until you go to a pole party for some real rocking. They’re fun. Let’s hope that lots of booze isn't involved because people do funny things while drinking, like getting married in Las Vegas. That hurts later and for sure overextending a knee, or falling on an elbow - pole playing, will hurt, like now. Ouch.
Strength, flexibility, nerve, discipline - in body and mind - are critical to this fitness form. In some poses it appears that every muscle of the body is clenched. How hard is that?
You can be upside down, with only your inner thighs and the back/top of your head touching the pole, as your hands stretch towards the floor.
Floor. Where are the mats? Why isn't this done on a sea of foam or an ocean of cotton batten? Perhaps this is why a wimp like me is on the sidelines.
Looking at the Frog, Sumo Squat, Hobbit, and Bottle Rocket, to name but a few pole poses, reaffirms that the human imagination is alive and well, if a bit jauntily off track. What if we used our minds for really important things, like conjuring up new pose names for fùtbol/soccer stars that flop and flail after tripping while skipping?
Got a bit off track myself.
If you want to veer a tad away from the Hobbit, you’ll pose smack dab into the Flying Peter Pan, the E Pose, and the Mercury. All test (and torture?) the obliques, the calves, and the delts – you know, the muscles nobody can find without a GPS.
As mentioned, I’m a wuss. I wouldn't touch this exercise, ahem, with a ten-foot pole. I don’t have the guts, but others like Sam Taylor, who has the gumption, would. She’s trying out 100 new fitness classes and here she tells of her pole fitness foray.
If you are impatient and can’t wait to shinny to the top of the pole in dance competition, or at least get the skinny on this enervating exercise form, the UK’s Bendy Kate (Kate Czepulkowski) gives a supreme performance at the World Pole Dance Championships 2014. She can twirl hanging from one hand. She can ease into the Russian splits. She can flow into Chinese ones. She should be an athletic ambassador to the United Nation’s World Health Organization. She’s fun to watch and with her great music accompaniment, it’s a beautifully impossible act to beat. For five minutes Bendy wows the audience while the song “At Last” blows the mind.
Frankly, some of the moves hurt to watch. You wince as she grabs her foot and brings it close to her head. Actually, well past. Her knee is closest to the noggin. Is the body supposed to do things like that? Rhythmic gymnastics meets innovation, permutation, concentration, distillation. Those are the essence of pole dance at its finest. Bendy, her grace beyond repair, Fred Astaire in air, gives an exhibition of transformation, of elongation and truncation without hesitation - and makes it look easy - and not once is seen a huff or a puff. Us humans, we’d be gasping in a minute. Hacking in two.
Speaking of two, some acts have two persons on a pole.
Let’s get bureaucratic for a minute. UPA. What a great acronym. It stands for United Pole Artists. Or it could subliminally stand for: Up a...something or other. Get it?
What does one get if they get into the UPA? Well, for one thing, it allows one to BSB. “Bringing Sexy Back” has pole players, via video, pics, or blogs - share their best assets to other - registered - practitioners. So Peeping Toms are butted out. For a few other things, it gives news of poles - removable, permanent and portable; of apparel – fishnets, sports bras and shoes; of current events, what pro-polers are up to, the lowdown on pole fitness basics, even philosophy. Pole instructor, Gina Tann, compares pole dancing to gardening and “polers” to plants, both needing nurturing, for example.
Summarily, it may seem odd to many who’d associate pole dancing or fitness with the objectification of women - to hear women state that they feel empowered practicing pole fitness. It may seem odder still, to learn that pole dancers provide benefit programs to aid the less unfortunate among us. But it won’t seem odd to realize that once you've freed your mind of preconceived notions and perceptions of pole fitness you’ll rid yourself of the biased straitjacket you've been in.