by Karen

I use to dance for a living. Now I have gained 120lbs from sitting in a wheelchair. I want information on pole dancing with one leg and what type of heavy duty pole I can use. Thank you.

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Jun 16, 2011
One legged running, skiing, and now pole dancing...yes!
by: Susan from PDFF

Hi Karen,

Thanks for your pole dancing question, it's a good one!

It's also not one I get every day so I've been doing a bit of research. Unfortunately there's not much info out there on pole dancing with a physical handicap, so I'll muddle through as best I can and try to give you some helpful information.

I'll start with my usual disclaimer for any kind of fitness-related question, which is that because I don't know your current fitness level, health status, etc I can only give general opinions, not personal advice or specific recommendations.

OK, first off, here's a response to a question I recently answered (just yesterday, in fact) from a visitor who wanted information on weight limits of different dance poles. You might find it useful in deciding which pole you'd feel most comfortable with.

Now on to your question of pole dancing with your one good leg.


You don't say whether you have partial use of your leg (ie below the knee amputation) or what your specific injury is, so I hope you'll forgive me for making some assumptions. Please feel free to chime in with more information or further questions any time!

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Jun 16, 2011
One legged running, skiing, and now pole dancing...yes! (cont'd)
by: Susan from PDFF

You mention that you used to be a dancer, but you don't specify what type of dance. I'll make another assumption that it was pole dancing or exotic dancing, and if this is the case, you've got an advantage because your body has some muscle memory to work with.

Also, one obvious advantage that pole dancing has over most other types of dance for those with any kind of motor impairment, is that the pole can act as an assistant while you dance. While I expect that something like ballet would be near impossible to master with only one good leg, I imagine that's not necessarily the case with pole dancing.

However, as with anyone with a physical disability who participates in a sport designed for able-bodied folks, there is going to be a need for compensation.

In pole dancing, the need to develop upper body strength is a given. But in your case, with only one good leg to grip the pole and give you momentum into spins and lifts, the strength of your arms, back, chest and shoulders (not to mention your core) is going to become that much more important.

The challenge for you is that with the extra weight you're carrying at the moment, you may find it difficult to get started. That's because you have a fair bit of weight to lift, and probably not much (relative) strength with which to lift it. And as I mentioned, you're going to need some killer upper body strength to compensate for not being able to use one of your legs.

But the good news is that once you get started, you should see improvement very quickly because you'll really be challenging yourself.

However, no matter how much upper body strength you build, it's important to acknowledge that you'll likely find (again, depending on how much use you have of your "bad" leg) that some moves are just not accessible to you. Inversions that involve release moves (no hands), for example, may not work for you.

Jun 16, 2011
One legged running, skiing, and now pole dancing...yes!
by: Susan from PDFF

But let's focus on what you CAN do, shall we? Again, I have no idea what your specific limitations or abilities are, but since you've danced before and want to dance again, I think it's a great first step to get yourself a dance pole and find out what you can do with it.

Try not to limit yourself (and I tell this to my students without physical challenges too) based on what you think you can or can't do today. We all have beliefs about how strong we are, or aren't. And we all have self-imposed limitations on how far we can go with any given challenge, whether physical or otherwise.

Just try to stay open to possibilities and see what happens for you along the journey. If you have a creative bent and enjoy choreography, this may even be an opportunity to turn your creative juices loose in an entirely new direction.

And if not, there are lots of pole dancing DVDs out there that I'm sure will give you plenty of ideas. You'll almost certainly need to modify the moves that are taught, but that's one way you can start to develop your own personal pole dancing style.

It sounds like you're definitely up for the challenge Karen, and I look forward to hearing more from you about how your pole dancing adventure is going. I hope you'll come back here and post questions, updates, and maybe even a photo or two in your favourite pole pose, once you get going!

And like I always told my kids...if one person in this world has accomplished it, it's possible for you too.

Best of luck, and have fun!

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