Whether you view pole dancing as a form of fitness or not, there is no doubt that it is becoming a rising trend within the workout scene, emerging as a group exercise class as well as an at home workout that offers something a bit different. The team from Pole People invited me down to one of their taster classes, based near Moorgate, London, so I could find out what pole fitness was all about. The session was taken by Ann, who has been teaching pole fitness for around a decade, also teaching Pilates in the past. Ann began by leading us in a simple warm up, making use of lunges and squat positions. Then, it was time to hit the pole. She began by explaining that since this was a taster session, she was going to show us a mix of movements so we could really get the flavor of pole fitness, although usually, participants would book in for a six week course, and then progress their skills over the duration.
We started off by learning jumps. Our starting position for most of the movements was standing close to the pole, keeping it on our dominant right hand sides, and gripping the pole high with the same hold you would use for a baseball bat. Standing up on the balls of our feet, we would stretch our left arm out at shoulder height and lean slightly away from the bar. From this position, we completed a gliding spin, finishing by hooking our right leg around the pole. From here, Ann showed us a traditional fireman style slide, as we held the bar high with both hands and then jumped up so the pole was between our bent legs, sliding straight down again. A variation on this is a spin, so we did a few steps around the pole first to build momentum (your biggest friend for easier, faster movements), then jumping up on to the pole and sliding down in a circular motion.
After jumps, Ann moved on to spirals. This involved walking a few steps around the pole, then hooking the inside leg around the outside of the pole, as you spiral down, bringing your legs together. We also performed the corkscrew, where you take a few steps around the pole and then, facing the pole, your outside leg hooks around the pole, whilst your other leg meets the inside of the pole, your knees dipping outwards as you rotate down. Ann's teaching style was fun – she would show us the moves individually first, both at full speed and slower, then we would do it with her slowly. She would then pop some music on, and we would practice the moves on our own poles as she came around, giving personalized feedback on our technique. We also put the moves together to form little sequences, adding 'ripples' in between which are basically a form of body roll. I really enjoyed this class as something girly and a little bit different. Heaving your own bodyweight up a pole is definitely good for your strength, and Ann also commented that it would help build wrist strength. The small class size was a plus point, as it felt really intimate with only six of us there. Although coordination isn't my strong suit, I'd love to get better and book a course one day – it was a refreshing full body session with a difference.