I Tried It: Pole Dancing (as Exercise!)
Back when I was a newbie to Groupon and read every offer in my inbox, I sprung for a deal for two introductory pole-dancing classes. (OK, full disclosure: This might not have been a totally random purchase; I’ve been curious about this "sexy exercise" since reading about it earlier this year.)
Determined not to let this one go the way of my bowling Groupon (did my friends and I really plan to waste a full summer weekend afternoon in a dim bowling alley?), I crammed in my two sessions last week at NYPole. By the time I landed my first spin, I knew I'd be signing up for more.
My goal going into the first hour-long class was ambitious. I wanted to feel like I was actually doing something that remotely resembled the stuff I'd seen in pole fitness competitions on TV, or the stuff that might appear if—fingers crossed—a new reality show about pole-dancing suburbanites called House Cats gets picked up by network TV.
Before class, I considered trying on a pair of 7-inch heels or picking up some beeswax-based pole grip (both for sale in the seating area) but decided just to leaf through the latest copy of Pole2Pole magazine for inspiration. The regular 2-inch heels I brought from home would have to do.
Finally we got started, innocently enough. The teacher, Tracy, led us through a good 10 minutes of stretches, plus plank and downward dog poses, until we could no longer ignore the six poles lining the narrow studio. There were 10 of us in class—from stick skinny to heavy, teenaged to middle-aged (and possibly hoping to make it on House Cats season 2). All were beginners like me. We split into two groups, and each tentatively took a pole.
Tracy ran us through some basics. My favorite tip was to treat the pole like your dance partner—pull it, push it, use it for resistance.
With that, we learned a routine consisting of a head roll-twirl-grind-drop-spin sequence, all while strutting around our partners. My crowning moment was managing to hang from the pole and spin around it with neither foot touching the ground. The music was groovy and grindy and helped set the mood. Every time it was my group's turn, I hoped the playlist would land on Eminen.
Fun as all this was, I’ll admit that it did little to raise my heart rate or work up a sweat. That is, until Tracy announced that the finishing move of our routine would be to climb—caterpillar-style—to the top of the pole. My feet started to sweat. I never could climb to the top of the rope in gym class. I could still get up only with boosts from Tracy, but it was exhilarating.
My new goal is to make it to the top solo. I hope I can do it in the next five classes because that is how many I signed up for. Tracy promised after just a few sessions we would all be climbing like Spider-Man.
I can see pole classes joining my exercise schedule, along with ballet, yoga, Zumba, and masala bhangra, especially if all that hanging and climbing keeps making me feel sore in muscles of my shoulders and chest I didn't know were there. Despite my soreness, when I got inside a subway car to go home, I had the urge to walk up to a pole and take a partner by the hand.