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The DOs and DON’Ts of pole dancing

Words: Nandi Ndlovu

Every few years we get to see one of Hollywood’s leading ladies play the role of a stripper. And this year it’s Jennifer Aniston’s turn in the upcoming comedy flick, We’re The Millers (watch the trailer below). She follows in the platform heel footsteps of Natalie Portman in Closer, Jessica Alba in Sin City and of course Demi Moore in Striptease.

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of trying a pole dance class for fitness, but never bothered to find out when and where I could attend one. So, when I spotted the Pole Dance Cape Town studio on my walk to work, I was filled with curiosity. The baby pink walls and the poster of a woman on a pole, which I could just see through the glass door, had me intrigued. The following Saturday morning, instead of sleeping in, I decided to head over to their studios to join an introductory class – and boy, I was in for a treat! Firstly, I struggled with deciding what to wear (images of Jennifer Aniston and Demi Moore scantily dressed kept popping into my head). Should I be wearing tassels, knee-high stockings, or sky-high platform heels? I decided to play it safe and opted for black leggings and a vest.

I was the last to arrive and when I walked into the studio, the room was abuzz with chit-chat, giggles and eagerness from fellow newbies like myself. Dance music was playing in the background and our instructor, Mariska, welcomed me warmly. The last available spot was at the front of the room (of course it was), so I quickly scurried over and stood next to my pole. Mariska started us off with a warm up and some exercises, and then it was time for the fun to start. She introduced us to basic poses, steps and spins – if you thought pole dancing was simply sliding up and down a pole, then you thought wrong.

 

My favourite move was the “Fireman Spin” also known as the “Firefly” which involves placing one of your legs on to the pole with your knee bent at a 90 degree angle, hopping off the ground with your other foot and bringing it to the pole to mirror your other leg. Your legs should be either side of the pole, with the fleshier part of your thigh on the pole. Think of a fireman sliding down a pole, but the sexier female version.

While I like to think that I have natural rhythm, I had no clue what I was doing throughout the class. When I looked around the room I realised that everyone else had baffled expression on their faces – they felt the same way as I did! And when you’re in that kind of situation there’s nothing better than to laugh at yourself – which everyone did. By the end of the class, I had gotten the hang of things and started to feel more confident. I even nailed some moves, which I was rather chuffed about. When it was all over, I felt exhilarated and exhausted – it’s really quite a workout!

On my walk home, I soon realised why this form of fitness is still a craze. It’s about how it makes you feel and what you can take away from the whole experience. With dance music still playing in my head, I had the urge to twirl and swing around a street lamp – I resisted. I felt amazing; with a new found self-confidence that I hadn’t felt in years.

The DOs and DON’Ts of pole dancing:

DO drink plenty of water before and during a class. Passing out whilst upside down – not a good look!

 

DON’T feel intimidated! All shapes, sizes, ages and fitness levels are welcome. “As the workout is quite strenuous, it is not recommended for anyone under 18,” explains Stacy, an instructor at Pole Dance Cape Town.

 

DO dress appropriately. I decided wore leggings to the introductory class, which I later realised was not a good idea. They were very slippery against the pole, causing me to spin rather wildly. Stacy advises “comfortable clothing, but nothing baggy, shorts and a T-shirt work best.”  You can leave the suspenders and stripper heels at home!

 

DON’T wear jewellery – yes that includes your favourite charm bracelet you wear every day.

 

DO stretch. Pole dancing is, “a total body workout that improves your core strength.” You’ll have a hard time reaching for that coffee jar the next morning. And although my arms ached, the toned and defined biceps are totally worth it!

 

DON’T expect to be as graceful as a ballerina during your first lesson. I felt like an idiot with two left feet at first, but Stacy reassures me that, “coordination and flexibility will improve with each class.”

 

DO enjoy yourself. Pole dancing is a fun, exciting and unconventional form of fitness. You’ll definitely be coming back for another turn on the pole!

DON’T expect your body to magically transform overnight. “If you attend between one to three classes a week, you should see results within three to six months,” says Stacy. Everyone is different, so progression will be at your own pace. I plan on attending one class a week, for an initial period of three months.

DO have a pole installed in your bedroom – your man will love your new moves!

DON’T be surprised at your new found self-confidence. You become more aware of your body and are more comfortable in your own skin. I left my introductory class feeling sexier than ever, my inner-goddess cheering, “You go girl!” as I strutted on home.

 

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