“Pole kisses” are what you should be prepared for after the first encounter.
No, not hickeys or love bites, but bruises on your body where skin hits pole – and muscle soreness all over the day after. But once you get past that, you’ll realize, as this convert did, what a totally fun and exciting workout pole dancing can be.
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.
Well, “fun and exciting” turned out to be an understatement. Beyond that are other reasons to consider pole dancing as an excellent alternative workout.
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. But practice for an entire session and you’d eventually get it. And believe me, the immediate reward makes this workout so exhilaratingly fun you’d look forward to more challenging tricks day after day.
Let me emphasize though that it isn’t that easy to do pole dancing. Proof of this was the 850 reading on my calorie counter watch after every session, my “pole kisses” and the muscle soreness the next day.
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.
Lala Dinglasan, a certified pole dancing instructor, considers pole dancing somewhat similar to the principle of vertical gymnastics, where aside from muscular strengthening, joint flexibility is improved big time. The constant physical stimulation, she adds, gives added incentive for the pole dancer to strive for the next level.
Inevitably, Dinglasan says, the pole dancer will learn to appreciate the beauty of his or her body more. That’s why female students are encouraged to wear skimpy outfits and even high heels to strut around the room – engaging in role-playing as a stripper also stirs up the imagination!
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.
At Movement Studio, there are exclusive pole dancing classes for males, females and mixed groups. The instructors are certified by the International Pole Dancing Association, and have enough knowledge on injury-prevention. •
Movement Studio, 29/F, Union Bank Plaza, Meralco Ave., Ortigas Center, tel. 9448075, or at the Jollijam Arts Center, Unit 203, Three Salcedo Village, Makati, tel. 3926220.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ALANAH TORRALBA