The fitness industry is a lot like fashion, where old trends come back into vogue but usually with an updated twist.
As 2014 comes to an end, people are looking for fun and intensive workouts that keep their interest but are also effective.
I am one of those people, and in my search, I was presented the opportunity to take a pole dancing fitness class at Romance and Dance in Rancho Cucamonga.
It was my first time, and I was nervous.
Where would my legs go? Would I get all the moves right? Would I be able to hold myself up in certain positions?
The activity of swinging and sliding up and down a metal bar has mainstreamed from dark strip clubs to a workout and even an art form.
I walked into the studio with no experience, an open mind and spandex booty shorts. The best way I can describe the feel of the studio would be a cross between a gym, a nightclub and a Spencer’s Gift Shop. The walls were painted bright pink lined with alternating black and white zebra striped wallpaper.
The instructor, a woman who went by the name Mel, wore booty shorts and six-inch stilettos. You could see the muscles in Mel’s abdomen and thighs flex as she spun around the pole.
The class, “Beginners Pole Aerobics,” is designed for dancers with less than six lessons of experience.
The class is divided into a 30-minute workout boot camp and 30-minute pole fitness.
For the boot camp portion, we ran laps, did squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, dips and multiple stretches to build up our flexibility and strength before we even touched the pole.
By the time we finished the boot camp, my legs felt like noodles.
Mel began the pole part of the class by teaching me how to walk around the pole.
You might wonder why someone needs to be taught how to walk in a circle, but there’s an art to it.
You’re supposed to grip the pole at a particular height, point your toes and guide your motions with your inside foot.
You change direction in a very fluid motion with particular footwork and upper body twists.
Mel taught the first real pole-dancing move called the pinwheel spin.
This requires you to walk around the pole, grab it with both hands, kick off the ground, swing your outside leg around the poll, and spin down to the ground.
The move itself is not that difficult, but there’s one thing that I learned and it’s that pole dancing hurts.
Watching experienced dancers glide down their poles in movies, I did not anticipate the amount of friction that occurs between your bare skin and the pole.
I also learned that it takes a lot of time, effort and skill to actually look sexy when pole dancing.
All in all, I have a new found respect for people who can pole dance.
It requires an intense amount of raw strength from every part of your body.
Even at a beginning level, you need to be in very good shape because you must be able to handle your own body weight.
If you’re in the market for a fun way to be physically active while focusing on improving your coordination, balance, endurance, flexibility and strength, then pole fitness may be right up your alley.
If the more sultry elements that come along with this style of class, such as trying out moves like “booty up” and swiveling your hips leave you feeling more self-conscious than they do empowered, then this may not be the class for you.
The truth of the matter is you don’t have to be an exotic dancer to be successful in a pole fitness class.
All you need is a great attitude and a desire to have fun while working out.
Alyssa Navarro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.