How in shape do you need to be to start pole dancing?

by Kimme
(Morgantown, WV)

I'm 5'6" and currently weigh 120 lbs and after having my son, I could never find a good work out that I enjoyed enough to stick with.


I am not overweight, but besides walking on a treadmill, I don't work out regularly.

Should I start some sort of regular work out routine before attempting pole dance classes?



Susan from PDFF says...

Welcome to the wonderful world of pole Kimme! Your question is a good one, given the calibre of pole dancing that's out there nowadays.

While it's great that there are so many amazing dancers and performers helping to raise the bar and show off the skill and athleticism required for high level pole performance, I sometimes think that newcomers to the sport get a bit freaked out!

While you certainly can do some things to build strength before you start classes if you like, the good news is that you really shouldn't need to if you start at the appropriate class level.

A beginner class should include a gradual introduction to basic moves, as well as plenty of stretching and pole-specific strengthening.

Of course, much of this will come from the moves you'll be learning, but when I was teaching I always liked to supplement this with specific exercises to help build strength and stamina.

As you progress and move up to intermediate and advanced moves, the base you laid in earlier classes will give you the strength you need to challenge yourself. At least this is how it should work in theory.

In practice, I've found that the definition of "beginner" varies enormously from studio to studio and instructor to instructor.

At one studio, a beginner class might include climbs and inversions, while at another, you may not get to these moves until a level 3, 4, or even a level 5 class.

This is why I think it's really important to speak with the studio owner or instructor before you commit to a class session. Ask specifically about what kinds of moves will be taught and what the recommended fitness level is for newcomers.

In my opinion, a beginner class should focus on providing a solid introduction to the concepts of pole dancing, ie working with the equipment, learning to trust the pole, getting comfortable with orienting yourself in various positions, etc.

There are loads of fun moves that are appropriate for beginners. A class that focuses on these foundational moves will help you build strength and stamina safely. That way, when you're ready for some of those crazy moves that the pros are doing, your body will have had time to adapt and strengthen so you'll be able to progress safely.

If you do want to work on some "pre-pole" exercises, I'd suggest focusing on your core and upper body.

A strong core (abs, butt and lower back are all included here) helps you maintain control and stabilize yourself during spins and inversions.

And of course all those aerial moves demand strong and flexible shoulder and upper back muscles.

If you decide you want to build up some strength in advance, it might be worthwhile hiring a personal trainer for an hour to show you some specific exercises you can do on your own. Let him or her know that you're preparing for pole dancing and want to strengthen your shoulders, back and core.

Something really important to keep in mind is that while muscles respond fairly quickly to strength work, your connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) will take longer to adapt.

They are also much slower to heal if injured, so I can't stress enough the importance of a gradual conditioning program.

Pole dancing is awesome exercise, and so much fun. A good instructor will make sure the class progresses gradually, and that it includes some supplemental exercises and stretches.

That said, whether you choose to do strength exercises in advance of signing up for a class, or you opt for starting with a beginner class, make sure you progress gradually. This will give your body time to recover between sessions so your muscles can adapt.

Have fun Kimme, and thanks for stopping by!

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