Pole dance is a form of performance art which is a combination of dance and gymnastics involving dancing and acrobatics around a vertical pole. Although it has its roots in erotic clubs, it is an increasingly popular form of fitness and dance, practised by many enthusiasts in gyms and in dedicated dance studios.
Pole dance is now regarded as a recognized form of exercise and can be used as both an aerobic and anaerobic workout. Pole dance requires significant strength, flexibility and endurance. Pole dance proper involves athletic moves such as climbs, spins, and body inversions using the limbs to grip. Upper body and core strength are required to attain proficiency, and rigorous training is necessary.
As a kinesiologist (joint movement scientist) who studies workouts, I just had to try pole dancing to be able to understand what the fuss is all about.
First, there’s the possibility of achieving your goal in just one class. Your initial goal can be as simple and specific as hanging onto the pole for, say, one full minute. At the start of the session, you may not be able to do that.
Fun is a bonus. Fitness-wise, you’d definitely get a decided edge with this workout because a multitude of muscles are synchronically working together as you master a certain trick. The mere action of hanging on to the pole calls for a lot of strength from all the muscles in the upper extremities – biceps, triceps, deltoids, rotator cuff, lats and many more. Every muscle in your core, such as your rectus abdominis (six pack), obliques; your para spinals (muscles acting at the back of your spine) are also triggered to fire up.
Lower extremity muscles, from the gluteus, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves are put to work as well.
Another fitness advantage of pole dancing is that it provides a combined isometric and isotonic contraction. Isotonic contraction takes place when a joint movement results from the contraction of two or more different muscles. One example is when you bend your elbow, which involves a contraction of the biceps (elbow flexion) and the triceps (which stabilizes the long bone of the arm during movement).
An isometric contraction, on the other hand, is when there is no joint movement in spite of the contraction of the muscles involved, as in the bridge pose (when you lie on your belly using your elbows to prop yourself up). Since both kinds of contractions are essential in muscle toning or even muscle growth, pole dancing can be an alternative workout in body sculpting.
Once one has mastered the basic moves in this vertical exercise, one can incorporate them into different kinds of dances, like burlesque, Vegas strip dance, hip-hop and belly dancing.
Let me add as well that pole dancing isn’t just for women. In fact, it’s the men who are blessed with more testosterone and are therefore much stronger than women in maintaining their hold on the pole.