Once associated with sleazy strip joints, Pole Fitness is the latest, super-fun way to get in shape. Julie Swart of the Pole Fitness Association of SA explains why.
1. How long has pole-dancing been a sport in SA, and where did it first originate?
A form of pole dance for fitness started in 2006 in SA, but since its first launch, the sport has developed a great deal. The original ‘pole dance classes’ had a focus on sensual dance solely for women. However, it has now become an exercise class with a focus on cardio fitness and building muscular strength and endurance. The vertical pole is used to perform body weight exercises such as lifts, climbs, pull ups and spins.
Some link Pole Fitness to ‘Chinese Pole’, as seen in circus arts, while other people have established similarities between pole fitness and ‘Pole Mallakhamb’, a traditional Indian form of gymnastics performed on a vertical wooden pole. The Maypole is another possible origin of pole fitness, with dancing around the Maypole being an ancient pagan ritual.
2. Why has it become popular as a sport, and what do people enjoy about it?
Pole Fitness classes today are participated in by women as well as men who enjoy its numerous fitness benefits and find it a fun way to exercise. It is a challenging and enjoyable way to build strength and improve fitness levels, and in the creation of routines and sequences, participants not only improve stamina levels, they also get a great sense of achievement.
3. Pole dancing always been considered something a bit sleazy – has its image changed?
The image of pole dancing, or pole fitness, has changed a lot in South Africa. People are starting to recognise it as a fitness regime, and due to the publicity it receives are now starting to understand what it is about.
4. In terms of strengthening/toning the body, which target areas is it especially good for?
Although you can get a full body workout in the pole fitness class, the most rapid results are seen in the arms, upper body and core. People have reported having better muscle tone in their arms during the first six weeks of attending two-three classes per week.
5. Can anyone do it, or does it require a background in dancing/gymnastics?
No background required! Beginners will start at a beginner level in pole fitness. Through pole fitness strengthening exercises and routines, people build strength and great coordination.
6. If someone wanted to learn pole-dancing in SA, where would they go?
They should look at www.sapsf.org.za and find our directory of reputable pole fitness studios in SA.