I’d say I’m pretty at ease with my sexuality. Unlike some of my guy friends, I don’t find it awkward or uncomfortable to engage in what some would consider “feminine” activities. I go for the odd facial, can’t resist a good musical and spend way too much time keeping up with the Kardashians.
But I must admit I flinched when I found out the CLEO team had enrolled me, the only guy on the team, in a pole dancing class. The thought of shimmying up and down a gleaming pole with dollar bills tucked into my undies made me shudder (as it would anyone reading this who knows me).
But I soon found out there’s a lot more to pole dancing than I thought.
Here are 6 cool things I discovered in my first-ever pole lesson at SLAP Dance Studio.
1. There’s a practical reason why pole dancers show so much skin
I didn’t get the memo about coming to class with nothing on but Speedos and a tank top, and wore a t-shirt and jogger pants instead. While it preserved my dignity, it made it so much harder to pull off those signature pole dancing moves.
You see, pole dancers bare as much skin as possible not just to show off their amazing physique, but to maximise skin contact and friction with the pole. Fabric doesn’t stick to metal, so the more clothes you wear, the more likely you’re going to slide off the pole when doing even the most basic moves (as I did).
Some moves can’t even be performed without bare skin, and that’s why the pros will dance nearly naked. Like this guy:
2. Some moves are easier for guys… while some are harder
Men generally have more upper body strength than women, so it’s easier for guys to execute some of the more strength-intensive moves like this:
On the flipside, moves that require the crossing of the legs are a lot harder for guys, given the *ahem* “package” between our thighs.
For example, I had trouble executing the Geisha, the first move my instructor Perlyn taught me…
…but could pull off the Showgirl (these names are genius) with relative ease:
And I literally winced when Perlyn demonstrated a basic pole move called the Pole Sit, which looks like this:
But this guy assured me that with practice, anything is possible:
3. The poles actually spin
While there are static poles too, the ones you usually find in a pole studio can spin in place. This explains how pole dancers can spin around a pole without ripping the skin off their palms.
In fact, pulling off basic spinning moves is much easier than you think, and the bulk of the challenge is actually shaking off the dizziness. (Perlyn shared a protip with me: to prevent motion sickness, don’t look at the pole as you’re spinning. It works!)
4. Pole dancing is like a cross between yoga…
While yoga has poses like Downward Dog, Crow and Cobra, pole dancing has cooler-sounding moves like Batman, Aerial Invert, Crucifix and Frodo (Yes, this is a real pole move. No, I don’t know what it has to do with everyone’s favourite hobbit.)
Just like yoga, nothing is more satisfying than successfully pulling off a new move you’ve worked so hard to achieve, lending pole dancing an addictive quality as you try to master as many moves as you can.
A typical pole studio has floor-to-ceiling mirrors, just like a ballet studio. Why? Because like ballerinas, pole dancers are constantly looking at themselves to ensure they’re executing their moves with grace and control:
6. …and CrossFit
I’ve been getting a Silver award for my annual physical fitness test for the last few years, so I guess that makes me somewhat fit. And yet my muscles were aching the day after the pole class.
This isn’t a surprise as, according to Perlyn, pole dancing is physically demanding even for the superfit because it engages pretty much every muscle group including your forearms, core, back, triceps and biceps. Cardiovascular endurance also comes into play, especially when you’re doing choreographed routines.
In short, it takes some serious strength and stamina to get on a pole and make it look easy, and this is why pole instructors are in amazing shape and why a typical pole class is less strip club and more Cirque du Soleil:
Inspired to take up pole dancing? You can sign up here at SLAP Dance Studio.