My pole class requires 6" heels...are they really necessary?

by Glenise

I am 59, pump iron/play golf. Started a pole dancing class/anti-gravity, like it but the shoes, 6" inch heels required, fell several times, I would like to continue but I don't need to break anything, don't understand why the shoes are a requirement, not much on the net I found so far about theory behind it. A shame if that is a requirement seems to me like you could do so many things or least a 4" heel. A one hour yoga warm-up, can do most of it but not all. Just curious about your thoughts.

Comments for My pole class requires 6" heels...are they really necessary?

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Fun, yes. Required? Not IMHO
by: Susan from PDFF

Great question Glenise!

Personally, I teach all my classes bare foot. Not that I'm opposed to heels, but safety aside, I like the barefoot contact with the floor and the pole. It makes me feel more in control, and as I start to push the glorious 50's decade myself, feeling safe and in control becomes more and more sexy all the time!

Yes, heels are certainly sexy, but not if you can't stay upright in them! And as far as I'm concerned 3" is every bit as sexy as 6"'s what you do with what you've got, right? ;)

Perhaps I also like the fact that dancing in bare feet helps to contribute to the changing perception of pole dancing, ie moving it out of the context of strip club and into the context of fitness club.

In other words, we get to recreate it in a way that works for us and our purposes. And if going bare foot or wearing flats or even sneakers suits our purposes better, then I say go for it!

As far as I'm aware, there is no good reason for wearing heels for pole dancing classes, other than that it's the norm in strip clubs, where pole dancing originated. It should be noted, however, that the shoes are purely for the enjoyment of the patrons, as high heels make the legs look longer and slimmer, and enhance the sway factor when we walk in them.

They don't contribute anything to the fitness aspect of pole dancing, and can in fact be quite dangerous as I'm sure you're aware. Falls aside, wearing high heels can contribute to chronically tight calf muscles and Achilles tendon issues, as well as a host of foot problems from cramps to nerve injuries and more.

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Fun, yes. Required? Not IMHO (cont'd)
by: Susan from PDFF

From my perspective as a fitness instructor, I just don't like the danger factor involved in wearing high heels for fitness activities, not to mention the liability factor!

Granted I don't know the class or the instructor involved in your case, so I'm not in a position to pass judgment, but I'd suggest any class that requires 6" heels (as opposed to making them an option or a suggestion), may be unsafe in other ways as well.

Not to say that I'm entirely against every wearing high heels! My guy loves 'em and I like the way they make me look and feel, but my personal preference is for no higher than 3", and only when I'm in "show" mode because I want to please my guy, or just for a change.

On a day to day basis, bare feet is more comfortable for me, safer, and quite honestly I think it looks every bit as good as heels if you do it right.

In fact, I think going bare foot can bring a lot more awareness to how we carry ourselves and to all the other details of the art of pole dancing, such as pointing the toes, extending the legs, etc. If we wear high heels, we can get to rely on them for these details, and therefore not pay attention to what we can do with our own bodies to create beautiful lines.

In the end though, each person needs to make their own decision about what's suitable for them when pole dancing.

Because I approach pole dancing from a fitness perspective (I'm helping you get in shape in a sexy kind way) vs a literal pole dancing perspective (I'm teaching you to pole dance, just like a stripper, so let's dress the part), safety is a primary consideration for me.

Others will have different opinions, depending on their philosophy, purpose, goals and motivation for learning to pole dance, and I respect those as well.

But you did ask for my opinion, so there it is!

Thanks for stopping by and submitting your question Glenise. I hope others find it, and my response, helpful as well!

by: DescendingAngel

This rule is ridiculous! There are safety issues with wearing heels. I allow my students to wear heels only if they feel comfortable in them and have no issues with their footing, but it is by no mean mandatory. If they stagger around or are learning something new where footing may be an issue, the shoes definitely come off. However, I do have a few rules if they are wearing heels. They must be a typical "stripper shoe" because they are sturdier than a dress heel and have rubber bottoms. Dress heels have a tendency to have slick bottoms. Shoes must have an ankle strap. But a minimum height? That's just crazy and is personal to the dancer. Shoes can make pivots easier on your feet, but a pair of dance thongs accomplish the same thing.

Most importantly, you need to feel safe in class and that you are getting what you want out of it. If you have fallen several times, I'm sorry to say, but your instructor is not putting safety first. There is a lot more to pole dancing than looking pretty in heels. It can take a toll on your body. Be sure you have an instructor that understands this.

Well Said, DA
by: Susan from PDFF

DA, you add some very good points to the discussion. I completely agree that it's not only about the heel height, but also the type of shoe.

A 6" heel on a dress shoe is more dangerous than on a typical "stripper shoe." Not only does the former tend to have a slick bottom while the latter has more grip, but an exotic dance shoe of that height is typically a platform shoe as well.

This means that the angle of the foot in the shoe is not as severe, which has implications for safety as well. While it could be argued that having the entire foot elevated on a 1-2" platform only adds to the danger, the fact that the foot is not being placed at such as extreme angle actually makes it easier to control where you foot goes.

Once you get used to walking an inch or two off the floor, that is!

I'm not much one for platform shoes myself, but when I do wear shoes they are typically a dance shoe of some kind. Now don't laugh! There are actually some very sexy ballroom dance shoes available these days, particularly in the Latin styles.

The reason I like these shoes, other than the fact that I have a background in dance and they're familiar to me, is that they typically have a soft suede bottom. This is the same material you'll find on the bottom of a dance slipper or thong. It allows your foot to slide easily on the floor, without being slippery. I find it to be the perfect combination of glide and grip.

The other reason I feel safer in proper dance shoes, aside from the fact that they're available in a wide variety of heights, from 1/2" to 5" or so, is that the good quality ones will have a steel shank in the heel and one-piece construction in the sole.

This contributes to additional strength and stability in the shoe, so you feel more stable and you're also MUCH less likely to lose a heel. Compare that to cheap platforms, which not infrequently have a separate heel made of plastic, and you can see why a proper dance shoe is a safer choice.

Your point about ankle straps is also well-taken, DA. This one should be obvious, but it's not always taken into consideration.

Imagine that you're learning an inversion from a standing position and have to lift your lower body up the pole. Beginners in particular tend to use more momentum than they should, meaning they tend to throw the legs into the inversion. If those shoes aren't solidly strapped to your feet you could lose one or both. Not only is this dangerous to the others in the class, but serious damage can be done to a window, mirror, or other fragile item.

So yes, all excellent points to add to the discussion DA. Thanks so much for taking the time to add your comments. And thanks again to Glenise for asking the question in the first place. I hope this page will help others in their quest to choose appropriate footwear for pole dancing!

Shoes actually help a lot
by: Anonymous

I've found that my shoes help me a ton.They add grip to the pole helping me climb and wearing them gives me a better stretch. It took a couple classes to get use to them but once I was they improved my skills by far. It's important to get a good pair though, with grip on the bottom and straps to keep them on. I'm sure it's not for everyone but I swear they make you a better dancer once you are use to them :)

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