Last night I went to my first pole dancing class at Fitness with a Twist. Like I said in my weekly recap, I was inspired by the beautiful, amazing, acrobatic pole fitness videos that Allison at Inverted Sneakers posted. When I looked at pole dancing here in Pittsburgh, I found the Fitness with a Twist studio in the South Side and signed up for Pole Dancing 101 to learn the basics. My running buddies Jamie and Anna agreed to do it with me.
Between signing up for the class and attending, I developed some reservations. I’d seen an interior shot of the studio and was concerned that there were only 7 poles but the class had 18 spots. I was not at all comfortable with the idea of sharing a pole with someone. My other concern was seeing classes on the schedule like twerking and lap dancing. Allison had explained that different pole studios offer different styles of pole fitness. I wanted to learn the style she does–highly acrobatic to build strength. I didn’t want to learn how to dance like a stripper, and I was concerned that’s what this class was.
There were 11 women in our class, most doing it for the first time. The instructor was wearing a tank that said “Females are strong as hell”–a Kimmy Schmidt reference I loved! The instructor was very friendly and made everyone feel welcome, and the environment was very non-threatening. There were women of all shapes and sizes there. Everyone was younger–I’d guess early 20s–and I was the oldest by far. But I was also dressed the sleaziest, so score for me! The website instructed everyone to wear shorts and either a tank or tee, no jewelry, and no lotion. Most of the women had shorts and pretty basic tanks or tees. Of course I had to wear my sexy Michi Antigravity Bra and Venom Tank! I paired it with basic black Lululemon Tracker shorts because that’s really all I have in terms of shorts.
We got started by doing some stretching. They started out as basic stretches–shoulder rolls, head rolls, arm stretches. Cool. Then, we had to get down on our hands and knees, put our butts in the air and do “butt isolations,” which was basically twerking. Jamie, Anna, and I, in the back row, just looked at each other and laughed. Close in front of me were 20-year-old women in short shorts twerking, and I had this existential moment where I wondered, “Is this really happening? What am I doing here?” At any rate, I tried the twerking, but I’m not sure it was happening for me. I had no idea if anything was going on back there.
Next we went to a pole to do basic moves. I got my own pole–thank God!–but Anna and Jamie had to share a pole. We started with walking sexy around the pole–which involves walking on your toes and dragging your foot lazily behind you, while doing “something sexy” with the hand that wasn’t on the pole. Ugh. This was what I was hoping the class would not be. Next we did twerking on the pole. Again, ugh. And then the body rolls came. Ha! You basically have to gyrate on the pole. Because Anna and Jamie had to share a pole, they were dying laughing at having to do it together, and then I started dying laughing too and could not stop laughing. I think I might have cried because I was laughing so hard.
After that we learned actual moves, which was what I was hoping for. We broke up into two groups, with one group going onto the floor to learn a move and practice it while the other waited, and then switching. She taught us a bunch of moves, from kicking to a bunch of different moves where you jumped on the pole and then twirled down, to the hardest, pole sits. In the pole sit, you had to jump up onto the pole, cross your legs so that your thighs were holding the pole, climb up the pole with your hands, put your chest against the pole, release your legs, and slide down to your knees. It was really hard, and the instructor had to help out the other women a lot on that one, so I had a lot of time to practice it over and over. It really hurt my arms and thighs, and I knew I’d be sore the next day, and I am. My arms are so sore that I had trouble lifting the hair dryer to dry my hair this morning, and my thighs are chafed. I should note that every single move ended with some variation of popping your ass up in the air and flipping your hair up. There were lots of other stripper-ish moves that you incorporated with the pole work.
I was able to do all the moves, though not very well, but I was still very happy with what I could do. I can see there would be a progression between learning the moves, doing them well, and then doing them with grace. I felt like it was a good workout when we were doing the moves. I did wish that there were more actual moves and less sexy stripper stuff like butt shaking and spreading your legs wide with the pole in the middle (yes, we had to do that too!). But overall I thought it was fun and I’d definitely go again, but I also admit that it was a bit weird doing it with a bunch of strangers. There’s a six-week class for beginners that will start in the fall that I might take. Until then, I might just take a few classes like I did last night.
If you’ve ever wanted to try it, you should! Like I said, it’s a very non-threatening environment, and all types of women were doing it. And it’s really fun to do with friends. It is a little weird doing sexy moves among strangers, but we were all in the same boat, so it was bearable. I would say, however, that I think you should be reasonably fit to try a class. A number of the women were really struggling to be able to do the moves, so I think the moves would be pretty hard if you don’t have some basic level of fitness.
What about you–have you tried or would you try pole dancing?