Dance clubs aren’t my thing. In fact, any attempt of “sexy” dancing on my part typically leaves me looking like a gorilla gyrating and my attempt at the “come hither” gaze always comes across more like the “duck face.”
This week’s step outside of my comfort zone brought me face-to-face with my lack of hip-swaying talent, as well as a stripper pole.
Pole dancing, as a form of alternative exercise, is gaining popularity not only for the sexuality and fun involved with this unique training, but for the legitimate workout one receives from an hour on
“It uses the whole body,” said Allison Holley, pole-dancing instructor at Ophidia Studio. “It is very much like Pilates, but the really fun part about pole-dancing is you get to play and learn new tricks and spins and feel really fun and pretty and strong at the same time.”
While at first intimidated by the room toting silver poles on risen stages, pink walls and a black floor ingrained with pink sparkles, Holley and the class participants bantered with conversational humor, making the mood very comfortable.
The multitude of mirrors covering the walls, however, continued to intimidate.
“It is an incredibly female-friendly supportive environment,” Holley said. “We want everyone to feel really comfortable, so regardless of what their experience level is. Getting through the door can be the hardest part and once you’re in it’s not at all what you would expect, but it is really fun.”
The beginner-level class started out with a bare foot warm-up, followed by the shoe choosing process.
While some brought their own shoes, an assortment of multi-colored eight-inch platforms were available to borrow. I chose the highest I could find and wobbled to my pole.
The first thing I learned was the pole itself spins and quickly. The second thing I learned was while “stripper shoes” make ones legs look amazingly hot, they are nearly impossible to walk in after spinning around on a pole. How the professionals do it, I haven’t a clue.
Our first task was learning to walk sexily around the spinning pole.
“So we are just dragging our feet letting our hips swing a lot,” Holley said. “When we walk, our hips naturally move side to side, what you want to do is just accentuate that.”
Paired with a pole and stilettos, this otherwise awkward walk was actually quite fun and with the added music bumping in the background, getting into the pole dance wasn’t so strange.
“You can run your hand along your body or you can put your hand on your hip,” Holley said, explaining what to do with the hand not on the pole. “If you have a T-Rex hand going on, do something with it.”
Next we moved on to pole work including dips and spins. While the rapid spinning was exciting, there was a lot of muscular work involved with climbing the pole as well as clasping legs and arms so as not to fall off. At this point in the lesson I learned pole burn is a real thing, and it really hurts.
From pole work the lesson brought us to the floor. Threading and kicking movements transitioned us “gracefully” to ground level; in my case I more or less plopped down. Floor movements included kicks and sexual pop-and-locks, which were a bit awkward. Holley constantly praised and clapped for students who were grasping new concepts, making the atmosphere unintimidating.
A free dance closed out the lesson, where all of our newly acquired pole dancing skills were put together. An hour on the pole whizzed by, proving time truly does fly when you are having fun, and the stripper pole battle scars and sore muscles in places I didn’t even know existed prove that pole dancing truly is a workout not for the faint of heart.
“It is surprising fun and addictive,” Holley said, and as I have already scheduled my next class, I completely agree.