What every pole dancer should know


The blog you are about to read is very truthful and the intent of it is to show a bigger picture to everyone who is interested in doing pole as a hobby and recreational activity. I want everyone to understand that some factors will influence your pole journey more than others, and your success is in your own hands. Some information will be obvious, while some insights might make you rethink your pole goals and attitude. Let’s get started.

A bit of history. 

Pole fitness, as we know it today, is a relatively new sport. There is no single opinion on how it actually started and every pole dancer usually has their own vision of what has influenced pole sport the most.

The most common versions are:

We don’t know how exactly pole fitness started, but it has definitely evolved over the past 15 years. Watch the two winning routines from the national Australian championship (Miss Pole Dance Australia) and compare them.

Winner of Miss Pole Dance Australia 2006: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAAXQ7BXhh4

Winner of Miss Pole Dance Australia 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kRL786RbJI&list=PLqa8WX9-SghzmdTQFly386g_eJKOpqAum&index=5&t=0s

While both routines are beautiful and graceful, the second one (from 2019) is way more advanced if we talk about the difficulty of the tricks. In 2006, a number of moves we practice nowadays simply did not exist in the pole world. Even Felix’s (2006 winner) signature pole move “the spatchcock” wasn’t part of her routine because she hadn’t “invented” yet it back in 2006. Pole dance is getting more and more popular and a number of athletes from other sports started coming to pole and modifying the moves from their original sports. If you take a close look at pole fitness today, you will notice it is a blend of tricks and techniques from sports such as gymnastics, circus, acrobatics, mallakhamb, ballet, dance (contemporary, heels, jazz, ballroom etc.) and this list keeps expanding.

What is important to understand, is that these former athletes spent hundreds, or even thousands, of hours training before they came to a pole class and for a gymnast it won’t be very difficult to get into “Eagle” or “rainbow Marchenko”. For an acrobat any pole flip, cartwheel or “fonji” will also be fairly simple. A ballroom dancer’s exotic flow will be mesmerizing, but for people who have no sports background, some of the “coolest” tricks will be VERY time and effort consuming to get and, in some cases, even impossible.

On the other hand, because so many different sports have been affecting pole fitness in recent years, nowadays everyone can find the style she/he will like the most. Here is a sample list of pole divisions and styles to choose from:

  • Pole Sport (the governing body is IPSF http://www.polesports.org/);
  • Pole Art;
  • Exotic pole ( sensual/erotic style or tricks);
  • Lyrical pole;
  • Low flow;
  • Floor work;
  • Troupes;
  • Doubles;
  • Para pole;
  • Your own style 🙂

As an example, let’s say if you are not a fan of doing pole routines at the height of 9 feet, then low flow or exotic pole might be the right thing for you.

Is pole dancing good for everyone?

I would love to respond to that question with a firm “yes”, but because of the nature of pole fitness, people with the following diagnosis must consult their doctors (we encourage everyone at any fitness level to consult your physician before starting a new fitness program) before coming to a class:

  • Spinal injuries;
  • Herniated discs;
  • Cardiovascular diseases;
  • Arterial pressure issues;
  • Asthma;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Fungal skin diseases;
  • Severe obesity.

Pole fitness is a bodyweight resistance exercise program that will require you to use your own body weight from day one. If you have any of the diagnoses above, pole moves might aggravate your condition and you must be very careful.

Let’s say your body weight is 150 pounds. If you come to a gym, more likely you will start exercising with no weights at first and then gradually, as your body will be getting stronger, you will be adding 5, 10 and 15 pounds to the workload. Now imagine exercising with 150 pound dumbbells on the first day at the gym… because this is exactly what will happen when you come to a pole class. Your body weight = your working weight and you will need to hold and lift that weight right away. You can’t decrease your weight instantly, but you can prepare your body by doing exercises without a pole. In reality, not too many people understand that body weight equation and want to do off-pole exercises when they sign-up for a pole class. So, pole dancing might not be safe for everyone and we always recommend seeking a doctor’s advice before starting any fitness journey.

What can I do to be a good pole dancer?

To succeed in pole, you will need to keep in mind the following essential components:

  • Activity training (pole tricks);
  • Structures training (strength, flexibility).

In a perfect world, every student should spend ⅔ of training time on structures, and ⅓ on activity. Not only is it a much safer and reasonable approach to your body, but also the majority of advanced tricks assume that you already have enough strength and flexibility to attempt them (remember all these gymnasts and acrobats I was mentioning earlier, eh?).

A student who works on improving structures will progress significantly faster compared to a student who only trains in activity. 

No tutorial or instructor can teach you strength/flexibility. This is something that MUST BE EARNED – and that means putting in some serious training time. For example, no matter how many Iron-X tutorials you watch, your body will not do it simply because you haven’t built the required strength for the move.

I believe that with putting in enough effort and time, everyone can achieve the required strength level for all pole moves. Achieving your flexibility goals will not be as straightforward as achieving strength goals. A lot of different internal and external factors (such as genetics, age, elasticity of muscle/connective tissues and many more) will be influencing your flexibility progress significantly.

A regular pole class is an activity training type of class. It will cover basic conditioning and stretching, but that won’t be enough. If you want to grow as a pole dancer you need to take structures training very seriously and dedicate time to it. You can take conditioning and flexibility classes at the studio or even train at home if you don’t have an opportunity to attend instructed classes.

If you want to have a balanced progress, here are the major groups of pole moves that I highly recommend to work on:

  • Spins on static pole;
  • Knee hang tricks;
  • Strength tricks;
  • Flexibility tricks;
  • Pole handstands;
  • Dynamic tricks (drops, flips, cartwheels);
  • Spin pole.

If you feel stuck and don’t see any progress for a while (aka plateau), spend more time improving your structures. Structure is always the answer. It is that simple.

Your success is in your own hands. You can’t control how fast your body will progress, but you can control the effort you put into it (read more here). Your instructors will help you get where you want, but they can’t do the work for you. You need to respect and know your body and what you need to work on if you want to achieve certain results.

One more way to enhance your pole journey is cross-training. Here are the activities I would recommend and, of course, you can add your own favourite sports to this list:

  • Gymnastics for adults;
  • Aerials (hoop, silks, trapeze, etc.);
  • Ballet/ Barre classes;
  • Dance classes;
  • Pilates;
  • Yoga.

If you enjoy pole and related activities, you can always find something in the world of pole that will be right for you. Respect and listen to your body and heart, and surely you will succeed.


Owner/Pole Instructor