Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but something’s held you back from doing it? For me, it was pole fitness. I’d always admired pole dancers' strength and stamina, but in my head, I always told myself, ‘there’s no way I’d be able to do that’. Then, in 2021, after a breakup, I was in need of a little confidence boost. It was time to think about me, so I jumped in and signed up for a six-week beginner pole course. It was one of the best things I’d ever done. Not only did I find myself surrounded by supportive women cheering me on when I struggled to get into a pose, but it instilled a new sense of self-belief when I was finally able to master it.
So as you don’t get confused, pole fitness and pole dancing aren’t exactly the same thing. In pole fitness, you’re using the pole as a piece of equipment to perform holds on, whereas pole dancing incorporates holds and dance routines. It’s growing in popularity, too, and according to YouGov it's become the 32nd most popular physical activity in the UK. But whenever I mention it to people, their responses are similar to what mine was: ‘I can’t do that’, ‘I don’t have the strength’ — well, you can, and you don’t need it. But if you give it a chance, I promise you; it'll be one of the best decisions you'll make. Here's why you should give it a go...
1. It's for everyone
People often think, ‘yeah, right’ when I tell them this, but it’s true. In my class, there are women of all sizes and ages (one is even in her 60s), so it’s really diverse. But pole isn’t just for women either. I’ll never forget gawping at a man at the gym for about five minutes as he moved his legs up and down simultaneously in a handstand, who then proceeded to tell me he developed his core strength doing pole fitness. It really does welcome everyone with open arms, which is part of the beauty of it.
2. You don’t need to be ‘strong’
So many people write off even giving it a go because they don’t have ‘the upper body strength’, and it frustrates the life out of me because I don’t need it. Of course, if you have some strength, it will be to your benefit, but it’s something that will be developed in class. Look at it like the gym; no one walks in the first time with Superman strength – it’s something that builds over time the more and more you practice. What’s way more important is having the courage to give it a go in the first place.
3. It’s a great full-body workout
You’ll work everything during a pole class; your arms, back, legs and core. It’s a great form of strength training. (of course, this could also be done with a pair of dumbbells, but pole is a lot more exciting). It also helps with your cardiovascular health too, as it also gets your heart rate up (my teacher does the most brutal five-minute cardio warm-ups, it’s actually the bit that I dread the most). It’s a fun way to get fit, so if you’re someone who’s struggled to find an area of fitness that you actually enjoy, this could be it.
4. It completely clears your mind
I love the gym, I go four times a week, but nothing quite clears my mind like pole fitness. All your attention is either focused on listening to your teacher, getting into your pose or supporting your pole partner. If you get distracted, then someone, or even you, could end up injuring themselves. So, you almost can’t afford to be thinking about other things, and personally, as someone with a very busy mind, that's ideal.
5. You make new friends
Whether you've moved to a new area or you simply want to meet new people, pole fitness is a great place to do this. When I first joined, everyone was so welcoming, and it introduced me to some incredible people, my teacher being one of them. We do regular socials and have a Christmas party; it’s given me a new bunch of friends. It's a very supportive, tight-knit community, but one that welcomes new people with open arms. There's nothing quite like a pole family.