Turns out, there's a whole community of pole dancing athletes vying for championship titles.

Credit: Lynda Allen, courtesy of Lynn Wainwright

First off, yep, we’re just as shocked as you that fitness pole-dancing competitions exist. Turns out, there’s a whole community of pole dancing athletes vying for championship titles.

And while you might imagine it’s all a bunch of 20-somethings twisting and turning (and yes, there are a lot of those), there’s also a number of 40-plus competitors, too. The oldest woman in that category at last weekend's BC Pole Fitness Championships was Lynn Wainwright, 60, a resident of Vancouver, B.C., in Canada.

And she is legit.

A few years ago a friend of Wainwright’s told her about the exercise perks of doing pole dancing, and said it would be more challenging than her typical workout routine at the time—belly dancing. “She was so right!” Wainwright says.

When visiting another friend in Washington State, Wainwright walked passed a dance studio offering the class, and decided to check it out. “I was instantaneously intrigued by the grace, strength and fluidity of the moves but also the challenge, physically,” she recalls.

She returned home, and signed up for a class at Tantra Fitness in Vancouver. Anyone would be intimidated walking into a pole dancing fitness class. But for Wainwright, that feeling was compounded.

“I was in a room full of twenty-year-old ladies with fit bodies and I felt like I was the ‘older’ woman in the corner with weight to be shed and a not so perfect body image,” Wainwright recalls.

Her instructor walked her through what muscle groups she was using, and how to maneuver into each move without getting injured. Soon after, Wainwright was hooked—and now she goes to about ten classes per week. “I love music and I love dance so putting them together as a fitness regime is so much fun,” says Wainwright.

Photo: courtesy of Lynn Wainwright

Since starting fitness pole dancing, Wainwright says she’s lost 20 pounds, and has noticed improvements with her energy levels, flexibility, strength, and even her confidence. “I remember the first time I climbed all the way to the ceiling on the pole, I was ecstatic,” says Wainwright. “All the moves may seem challenging, but you just keep trying until you get it—which builds so much confidence.”

Wainwright competed in the B.C. Pole Fitness Championships last weekend, placing third in the Masters division (all competitors in that group must be 40 or up), and loved every moment of it. “Completions allow you to train to your fullest potential, and require a lot of dedication, hard work and commitment, plus choreographing your routine also allows you to tap into your artistic expression,” she says.

Pole dancing, albeit fitness pole dancing, is not without its critics, who can't see beyond it’s connection to exotic dancing. Still, her family is warming up to the idea of Wainwright’s passion. “They are very impressed, especially after seeing the athletes perform at the B.C. Pole Fitness Championships on Saturday,” she says. “The more they learn and understand about what it takes to lift your entire body weight onto the pole or to do inversions on the pole the more supportive and encouraging they become.”

Now that Wainwright has her first competition under her belt, she plans to master more moves, and compete again. “I enjoy it so much, and for me, pole dancing fitness it is not just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.”

Curious? You can find workout videos on YouTube to give you an idea of what to expect in your first class.