In pole po­si­tion for global recog­ni­tion

Pole danc­ing has come a long way from its sleazy, seedy club ori­gins and could be­come an Olympic sport, writes Abi Jack­son

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health -

IF you still think pole danc­ing is all about seedy clubs — and even seed­ier clien­tele — then you’ve got some catch­ing up to do.

Firstly, it’s boomed in pop­u­lar­ity as a work­out method in re­cent years (and a de­mand­ing one at that). Se­condly, it’s now look­ing like it might be­come an Olympic sport.

Last month, the Global As­so­ci­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Sports Fed­er­a­tions (GAISF) con­firmed it’s given ob­server sta­tus to the In­ter­na­tional Pole Sports Fed­er­a­tion (IPSF), which hope­fully means a ‘clear path­way’ to­wards full Olympic recog­ni­tion even­tu­ally.

It’s ex­cit­ing — and wellde­served — news for thou­sands of pole fans, who know ex­actly how bril­liant and ben­e­fi­cial it can be, both phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally.

Here, pole afi­ciona­dos Sarah-Jayne Bell and Tara Mar­gulies tell us what’s so great about it.

1. It’s a full-body work­out

Sarah-Jayne, who runs Hud­der­s­field Univer­sity Pole Danc­ing Academy, ex­plains that pole helps im­prove both strength and car­dio. “The main phys­i­cal ben­e­fits in­clude core work, car­dio, mus­cle strength and con­di­tion­ing and in­creased flex­i­bil­ity and en­durance. The moves in­cor­po­rated re­ally tar­get the whole body, work­ing with your body weight as re­sis­tance,” she says. “The spins, lifts and holds tar­get the core, while putting to­gether and per­form­ing a rou­tine brings the car­dio el­e­ment.”

2. It boosts flex­i­bil­ity

“In­creased flex­i­bil­ity, co-or­di­na­tion and bal­ance come from reg­u­lar prac­tise. While a strong core can help with a bad back and re­duces your chance of in­jury, dur­ing ex­er­cise and in your daily life,” adds Sarah-Jayne, who has “fought for ac­cept- ance and re­spect for pole danc­ing for nearly 12 years”, so is thrilled by the news that it’s in the run­ning to be­come an Olympic sport.

3. It’s a ‘happy hobby’

“It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the men­tal and emo­tional ben­e­fits too,” says SarahJayne. “I love the fact that you don’t have to be good at pole to en­joy it. The ex­cite­ment of nail­ing a new move, com­bined with the en­dor­phins from ex­er­cis­ing make pole a re­ally happy hobby. Per­fect for well-earned stress re­lief af­ter a long hard week.”

4. You’ll be amazed what your body can do

Pole fans of­ten sport se­ri­ously im­pres­sive physiques and moves — but even they had to start some­where, and prob­a­bly strug­gled to hold a spin in their early at­tempts. “You’ll learn to move your body in ways you may not think are pos­si­ble, im­prov­ing your strength, move­ment and flex­i­bil­ity along the way,” says fit­ness in­struc­tor and pole fan Tara, who wrote a blog post about her ‘pole jour­ney’.

5. It boosts body con­fi­dence

And this, along with the fact that it’s a wel­com­ing com­mu­nity and you’ll see a range of shapes and sizes tak­ing part, can be a real con­fi­dence-booster too. “Laugh­ter and friend­ship come hand-in-hand with pole classes,” says SarahJayne.

“It can help with self-con­fi­dence and body con­fi­dence — you learn to love your body for what it can do and to be gen­uinely proud of your achieve­ments.”

6. There’s some com­plex chore­og­ra­phy

The rou­tines can be com­pli­cated, bal­letic and tech­ni­cal — and it’s ba­si­cally very im­pres­sive gym­nas­tics, on a pole.

“You’ll even put your brain to work, learn­ing chore­og­ra­phy and re­mem­ber­ing all of the steps you need to get into the beau­ti­ful shapes you learn,” says Tara.

“As well as work­ing won­ders for your body, you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence an in­evitable boost in con­fi­dence when you start to flow with grace and re­alise that your tricks look beau­ti­ful.”

7. It’s em­pow­er­ing

While pole is now widely recog­nised as a se­ri­ously im­pres­sive and skilled work­out, there’s still a big el­e­ment of per­for­mance. For some, the sex­i­ness is part of the ap­peal.

“Once you for­get about so­ci­ety’s opin­ion, find­ing your in­ner sexy is so un­be­liev­ably em­pow­er­ing,” says Tara.

SPIN DOC­TOR: Pole danc­ing cam im­prove your men­tal as well as phys­i­cal con­di­tion.

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