Apart from the fun factor it’s been estimated that beginner pole fitness dancers can lose between 300 and 400 calories per hour! Just Dance, providers of the classes, also claim it is a great toning and cardiovascular exercise. So is pole dancing a whole lot of fun or just a plain stick in the mud? I decided to give it a whirl to find out…
My friends and I turn up to the trendy venue, located in Annabel’s nightclub at the back of the Burlington hotel, Dublin 4. Most of the girls are between the ages of 16 – 25 and seem excited to try out pole dancing for the first time. Our instructor turns on the music, we do a basic dance warm up and then it is time to grab a pole each – with three girls to each pole. Our teacher demonstrates something called the ankle spin. She looks as though she is floating through the air. When I try the same thing I feel like a koala that has lost its balance on a tree. There is no dignity or self-respect as girls end up on the ground one by one. We learn an entire beginners routine in our first class including a ‘booty pop’ and lots of grips to hold the pole. Decide practising on an empty Luas before next week is a must!
This week we do push ups and sit ups to warm up which are a killer. We add to the routine from last week and learn a move called the attitude knee spin (impossible) and the backward stag. It just gets harder and I don’t seem to have mastered the last bits yet – if anything I am actually a lot worse then I was last week. It is frustrating. The teacher gets us to stand and try and pull ourselves up on the pole without jumping. She tells me if I keep doing this my arms will get stronger. I don’t believe her – my arms are not pulling me anywhere! Instead manage to pull a muscle in my shoulder. My friend gets a few large and painful bruises. On plus side, we learn some sexy moves – bending backwards on floor like goddess. Vow to practice on my friends pole before next week so we can be better then the others.
This week we learn, among other things, the squatting thrust and the showgirl pose. Things do start to get a little easier but not much. What people don’t realise about pole dancing is that it’s not as easy as holding onto the monkey bars down the local park. You are mainly relying on upper body strength and also core strength (your stomach) and your legs. If you have none of these pre-requisites the moves are virtually impossible. We have been taught most of the routine now, which involves moves from forward twirls to backwards twirls (my name for them not the official names). Just know most of twirly things hurt my shoulders. The teacher continually tries to show me how to hold on properly but my hands slide down leaving me in a heap on the floor.
There are genuinely girls in the class who are starting to look professional at this but, sadly, I am not one of them. Some of the girls have at least mastered control of the pole, instead of flailing wildly around it. Even my bessie mate who comes with me has said she is starting to love it. She has mastered the basics and the teacher nods approvingly whenever she passes her. When she passes me, she always comes over and tells me I am doing it wrong. Start to remember why I hated school all those years ago…
Today we learn the chair, the carousel and the windmill. Make a breakthrough on some of the moves we learned in the first and second weeks but my windmill looks more like a can-can dancer with a broken foot. After this class I stay back to watch some of the advanced students in progress – they are amazing and definitely something to aspire to in the future!
We all dress up for the final day and we have lots of laughs. Have really enjoyed my few weeks pole dancing despite not being able to master as much as I would have hoped. The class is fun and friendly and you always come away feeling like you have achieved something – even if it’s only having laughed until you cried! My advice for any aspiring pole dancers would be to build up fitness and upper body strength to a basic level before you embark on this class. Getting a head start with a few weeks of press ups and weights for your arms will ensure you will get lots more out of your pole fitness classes. And who knows, within weeks you could find yourself twirling away and impressing everyone at the party with your moves!
For more information on the next course of pole dancing lessons with Just Dance go to www.justdance.ie