by guest blogger and teacher Mich Piazza
People often ask me if you need to have a background in dance or gymnastics to do pole and the answer is no, absolutely not. Pole fitness is suited to everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. I got into pole somewhat by chance and accident when I decided I wanted to train in something different and challenging that would combine gymnastics (something I’d never done before but wanted to try) and dance (a pursuit I’d largely given up when I was a teenager and wanted to get back into).
I’d like to say that pole (or “poling” as it’s called in the industry) came easily to me, but it really didn’t! I struggled in the early days—upper body strength was my one big weakness (see what I did there?!) and I freaked out every time I got a bruise. Progress was slow, but I nevertheless persevered and I’m now I’m hopelessly (but happily) addicted. When I walked into my first pole class, I would never have imagined that I’d be where I am now. All the things I said I’d never do or be able to do, I’m now doing with great enthusiasm. A brief list of my “nevers”: wearing shorts, doing inverted moves (ie going upside down), performing on a stage and taking part in competitions. But nearly 3 years later and I couldn’t imagine my life without pole and all my “nevers” have become part of my daily life.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider adding pole to your fitness regime:
1) An hour’s pole class can burn between 300-400 calories. Plus, it’s so much fun that you’ll hardly notice that you’re exercising!
2) Your confidence will skyrocket, as will your overall flexibility and upper body strength. You’ll gain muscle without gaining bulk.
3) You’ll find yourself part of the most supportive exercise community there is. Although pole dancing and pole fitness are huge worldwide, the pole community is a surprisingly tight-knit one. There are numerous closed Facebook groups where polers from all over the world swap ideas, post photos, ask questions and boost each other’s confidence. The pole community is one of friendship and encouragement. Negativity isn’t allowed and passing judgement isn’t tolerated.
4) You’ll find your grace, coordination, endurance, stamina, balance and agility vastly improve in a short space of time.
5) Anyone can pole! I said this before, but it’s good to reiterate: pole is suitable for all ages, fitness levels and people of all shapes and sizes. Even men pole!
6) Pole fitness is taking the world by storm. There are numerous international competitions and Ireland itself hosts a few national pole competitions each year. There’s even a bid to make pole an Olympic sport!
7) Your pole practice can be tailored to suit your own preferences, abilities and strengths. It’s a wonderfully adaptable form of exercise. It can be as strength-focused or “dancey” as you want it to be.
The dos, the don’ts and what to wear:
- Please do not wear any lotions or moisturisers! Grip on the pole is essential for being able to do the moves correctly and safely. Anything slippery is lethal! Likewise, do not wear any rings or necklaces. Rings will scratch the poles and pinch the fingers, which in turn will cause injuries, and necklaces will get in the way of your pole practice.
- Be prepared to bruise! Bruises are part and parcel of pole fitness and largely unavoidable (I bruise like a peach, but tend to earn nearly as many bruises from the corner of my coffee table as I do from pole!)
- Wear comfortable clothing that you can move easily in. A fitted vest or t-shirt and 3/4 leggings are suitable for your first few classes, but eventually you will need to don shorts! As mentioned earlier, grip is essential. Skin contact with pole provides the “stick” you need to be able to perform various moves correctly and safely. If you’re experiencing “fear of shorts”, let me put your mind at ease by telling you about my shorts journey! I swore I’d never wear shorts and insisted that I’d only ever wear leggings. After a few classes I upgraded (downgraded?!) to ¾ leggings, then knee-length leggings that could be rolled up over my knees, then cycling shorts, then eventually I gave in and bought a pair of shorts. Now wearing shorts is perfectly normal to me and I throw them on without even thinking twice.
- Shoes/runners are not suitable for pole. Bare feet are best, but some for some moves, such as pirouettes, you might want to wear foot coverings in the form of half ballet slippers or “foot thongs” (which you can find in dance shops).
- Bring a small towel and plenty of water! Some people like to bring a small notepad with a pen so they can take notes and write down the names of moves and any short sequences/choreographies that we do. But this is entirely a personal preference.
Most of all, enjoy it! Pole is fun, sexy, athletic and empowering! Come and pole with us at Yoga Dublin, Dundrum!
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR POLE FITNESS COURSES
About the Author
Having trained in various forms of dance as a child and teenager, Mich discovered yoga after abandoning dance due to a back injury following a car accident. She was immediately attracted to its balance of mind, body and spirit and marvelled at the healing effects yoga had on her constant back pain.
During her yoga journey, Mich found herself attracted to the grace and precision of Pilates, in particular its focus on spinal alignment and the building of a strong, healthy core to help heal and alleviate back injuries.
Within a short of while of regular Pilates practice, all those remaining back pains from the car accident began to vanish until eventually she was pain-free. As a result, Mich became a devotee of the Pilates method and immediately after completing her yoga instructor training, trained to teach Pilates.
Mich has also trained in Pre and Post Natal Pilates, Pilates for Osteoporosis, Pilates for Spinal Injuries, Pilates with Props, Level 3 Advanced Matwork and Reformer 1 & 2.
In January 2013 she trained in BarreConcept which she found to be the perfect blend of all her great loves in life--ballet, yoga and Pilates. She went on to complete several other ballet barre training courses, including Pilates at the Barre.
Mich is also a qualified massage therapist, a Zumba Fitness Instructor and just qualified in Pole Dance Fitness. She won the title of Pole Dance Ireland Princess 2015.