As we age, we experience decreased muscle mass, bone density, balance, and range of motion. Because of this, we are more prone to falls and injuries that we may never fully get over. Milestones like retiring or decisions to downsize your home result in less activity and strenuous exercise. As you slow down, everyday activities become more difficult, worsening the progression.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Strength training is critical to preventing age-related decline and maintaining your health and independence. The key is finding a hobby incorporating strength training and exercise that you can start at any age. May we recommend pole dancing? You might be worried that pole dancing isn’t appropriate for your age, but there are many reasons to give it a chance.
Pole Dancing Increases Flexibility
Have you seen how flexible babies are? We are born with incredible flexibility we lose as we don’t use it regularly. As you reduce your movements, you will feel stiff and lose your joints' full range of motion. If you favor an area, the rest of your body has to compensate.
Pole dancing is a gentle exercise that helps restore range of motion and encourages flexibility. You will practice stretching, bending, twisting, and rotating you wouldn’t encounter in your daily movements, leading to better posture and form and less aching and joint wear. This also helps your spatial awareness and sense of balance.
Pole Dancing Helps Balance and CoordinationWhile balance and coordination are crucial to preventing falls, fitness classes often overlook this component. They are the building blocks for movement, leading to better gross and fine motor control. Pole dancing relies heavily on both, starting the moment you have to balance your body on the pole. You will be impressed by how coordinated you become through practicing transitions through routines to music. If you are concerned about injuries during class or have encountered falls previously, look into pole dancer knee pads or pole dancing grip for sweaty hands. Depending on your needs, they will give you extra support and confidence to learn the new moves in class.
Pole Dancing Makes You Stronger
Don’t let your lack of upper body strength be an excuse. You won’t get stronger until you start practicing.
Even at a beginner level, pole dance is a full-body workout. If you don’t possess much upper body strength, learning to pole dance will help you develop it. You will work up to supporting your body weight with your arms, building your forearms, biceps, and triceps. The moves are dynamic and engage multiple muscle groups at once, so you will also see a change in your abdominal and back muscles. As you progress, routines will require more strength from your legs, so you will truly be toning your whole body.
The more you practice, the more you’ll see changes in your upper body, core, and thighs. But you will also work out a commonly forgotten muscle: your heart.
Pole Dancing Can Help Your Cardiovascular HealthWhile strength training is the most important to prevent mobility deterioration, cardiovascular health is vital to prevent heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and even some cancers. Pole dancing gets your heart rate up to tick both boxes. It is rare to find a safe exercise that covers everything, but each class will start with a cardio component to get you appropriately warmed up. After, you will transition to moves that will build strength and endurance. Because pole dancing combines cardio and strength training, you may find yourself losing weight. Even if you don’t see numbers on the scale change, your body composition will change to more muscle and less fat. You may get leaner, and you will notice your clothes feeling a little less snug. Increasing your muscle mass means a bump in your basal metabolic rate. Ensure you are hydrating and fueling your body with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and proteins.
Pole Dancing Empowers
As we age, it can be difficult to feel confident in our bodies and abilities. Pole dancing reinvigorates your confidence. Learning a new skill will give you feelings of accomplishment. As you get stronger, you will feel more free and independent. You may find some emotional healing through dance. It can be therapeutic, boosting your mental well-being and fending off depression and dementia.
Pole Dancing is Fun
Lastly, you will have fun. Being a grown-up isn’t always fun, and neither is exercise. But pole dancing is an exercise that brings out your inner child. You may feel like you’re a kid at the park all over again. You will feel supported by the community to learn and have fun. It’s incredibly tight-knit and accepting, encouraging everyone to learn new moves, improve, and enjoy time in and out of class together.
Maintain your strength and mobility through dance. Consistently dancing a few times per week will delay or prevent many age-related problems. Try pole dancing and watch your balance, coordination, and strength improve. You may find a spring in your step and improve your outlook on life.
(Georgia de Lotz/Unsplash)
Exercise is a powerful tool for physical health but also mental well-being. Researchers have been touting the benefits of exercise for years. However, maintaining the habit or enjoying the activity can be difficult day after day. Going for a run or to the gym or exercise classes can get monotonous in a hurry.
Enter pole dancing—a fun, easy way to reap all the rewards of exercise while fending off boredom. And in addition to all of the physical advantages of pole dancing, it offers some unique benefits for your mental health:
1. Releases Stress-Relieving Endorphins
Regular dance classes increase the production and release of endorphins. They come from your brain and are feel-good chemicals. They protect you against feelings of pain and stress. They can also boost your mood, giving you a more positive and energetic outlook.
When you do something that releases endorphins, it’s the body’s natural reward system, making you want to repeat it. If you have ever encountered someone addicted to the “runners high,” you have at least seen how endorphins can make some people run some huge distances for fun. You can get those same benefits through dancing without all the marathons.
2. Promotes Healthy Sleep
Cortisol is a stress hormone that inhibits our ability to fall asleep easily or get into a deep, restful sleep. Since dancing releases those endorphins to combat stress, it will help you sleep better too. Dancing relieves stress and tension, calming your mind and body and promoting deep restorative sleep.
As with other cardiovascular exercises, dancing increases blood flow and body temperature. As your body cools and returns to baseline, it makes it easier for you to fall asleep. Dancing can help reduce the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome, which makes falling asleep harder, due to the increased blood flow to your leg muscles.
3. Helps Express and Regulate Emotions
Because pole dancing is both fitness and art, it teaches you emotional expression through your movement. You may walk into the room with some challenging feelings to process, but you’ll have released them while working through some complicated routines by the end of class.
If you take it a step further from class and choose to perform, you will find you can express a lot in front of others you wouldn’t have been able to verbalize. You may find a flow state, especially while performing, where your complete focus on your movements allows the rest of your problems and stresses to fade. You emerge feeling peaceful yet invigorated to tackle your problems.
4. Builds ConfidencePole dancing is not an easy skill to master. Your motivation to improve and perseverance will lead to a sense of accomplishment that dancers feel when they master a new move or routine. By achieving your goals, you will feel empowered and confident. Dancing is also a social activity. You will develop feelings of connection with your fellow dancers, increasing your social confidence. Pole dancing has an incredible community, encouraging social bonds and reducing social anxiety. Pole dancing clothes, or the lack thereof, are often misinterpreted for sex appeal when it’s about safety. The more exposed skin, the more places you have to grip the pole. While daunting at first, a side effect is that you will feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin. But, you always have the option of pole dancing grip pants or whatever outfit makes you feel best.
5. Protects Against Anxiety, Depression, and Dementia
Because of stress relief and emotional regulation, pole dancing protects against depression. If you already struggle with depression, it can boost your mood immediately (even faster than medication, in many cases). The flow state you can enter through dance is similar to meditation, relaxing your mind and body from daily stressors. This phenomenon can prevent anxiety attacks. It also allows you to be more aware of your mental state and help you from heading into a depressive state.
Because dance requires learning new moves and routines, practice, and repetition, it strengthens your concentration and memory centers in your brain. Your pattern recognition skills also improve through dance. Since dance boosts these cognitive skills, it has been recognized as a powerful intervention tool for dementia. It has also been shown to help prevent dementia, Alzheimer's, and other memory-deteriorating brain diseases. The earlier you start dancing, the better. However, dancing is a hobby you can pick up at any time; there is no age limit. Dance has even been used as part of therapy routines for individuals with memory problems, improving their quality of life and slowing the progression of their disease.
Your brain and body are a holistic system, functioning better when you exercise both. Pole dancing is among the exercises that work out both, impacting your physical, emotional, and mental health. It combines artistic and emotional expression with physical exercise resulting in innumerable health benefits.
No matter who you are, chances are you have felt like you are too little or too much of something: too fat, too thin, too flat, too curvy, too feminine, too masculine. You know the feeling.
So how do we push back? How do we cultivate body positivity for ourselves and others?
1. No Negative Talk
Stop thinking mean thoughts about yourself. If it’s something you wouldn’t say to your best friend’s face or vice versa, then you shouldn’t allow yourself to think it about yourself. Try to have positive, encouraging thoughts. When you look in the mirror or see a photo of yourself, try to find one thing you like instead of focusing on the negative. This small change can have a considerable impact on how you view yourself.
Beyond your thoughts, do not use body comments as a form of social interaction. You have more important topics to discuss and many other ways to bond. Don’t allow your friends or family to hurt each other with destructive talk.
2. Ditch Social Media Influencers
Whether it’s celebrities, fitness influencers, or friends that love photoshop and #humblebragging just a little too much, seeing distorted and airbrushed “reality” doesn’t help your self-confidence.
Even if you can’t unfollow everyone like this, remind yourself frequently that it’s not real. They are getting paid to sell you on the illusion. Maintain a healthy perspective. No one is perfect. Avoid skinny tea ads at all costs.
3. Don’t Let A Number Define You
Clothing sizes and BMI are arbitrary measurements that should not dictate your self-worth. Don’t fixate on fitting into a specific size or weight. If you’re focused strictly on numbers, you may idealize someone who stays trim thanks to unhealthy calorie restriction, caffeine, and smoking a pack a day. At the same time, someone with a higher BMI may be running marathons regularly. A balanced diet and routine exercise will impact the health and length of your life more than the size of your jeans.
4. Exercise For You
Working out shouldn’t be a punishment for what you eat. Food should not be your reward. If you are suffering through workouts, it might be time to find a different routine.
Thinking of working out as something you do as a favor to yourself. Move because you want to and check-in with yourself regularly. If something doesn’t feel good, switch it up. Exercise should feel challenging and strengthening, but not overwhelming. Depending on the kind of day you have had, what worked yesterday may not be the thing you need today.
If you’re looking for a new setting to put the joy back in your workouts, take time to get familiar with staff or instructors. Make sure that they are supportive and energizing. Taking a friend can help you feel safe and less vulnerable in a new setting.
5. Find Clothing That Makes You Feel Confident
Clothing has the power to make or break your confidence. You may be holding on to clothes from your past, making you set unrealistic goals for your body. Ditch them. You will look and feel more confident by getting a proper fitting or sizing up when necessary.
Workout gear can feel restrictive, unflattering, and uncomfortable. It’s not empowering when companies don’t make it with every body type in mind. If your body doesn’t fit the mold of sample sizes, you can feel less motivated and self-conscious working out. Seek out inclusive brands that make clothing for all shapes and sizes. Find clothes that make you feel strong and proud to be who you are.
6. Remember You Have A Right
Fitness spaces are not always designed with everybody in mind, which can be very offputting. No matter your shape, color, or identity, you have a right to take up space and get strong. Don’t let anyone or thing get in the way of your fitness journey. You are allowed to be there. If you feel unwelcome, you should look for more inclusive spaces.
7. Find Body-Positive Fitness Spaces
Walking into a gym, you can immediately feel the assumptions of others. From the elevator eyes and stares you’re getting to the outright judgment from fitness instructors and other gym-goers offering tips to lose weight or bulk up. If you can find a body-positive space, you can experience how fun it can be with the added benefit of moving your body.
At PoleActive.com, we love pole dancing because of its high emphasis on body positivity. Pole dancing fitness studios are relatively new, gaining popularity since the early 2000s. Because of this, they don’t have a deep-rooted prejudice about how a dancer’s body should look. They are a modern fitness phenomenon founded on inclusion culture. You aren’t “too” anything! If you have a body, you have a dance body. It doesn’t define your fitness or pole dancing journey.
In the end, body positivity isn’t an easy journey. Your aim is strength and health. Make sure you’re getting fit for the right reasons. Shut out the distractions in the world around you, and make this one about you!
Historically, society has associated pole dancing with cisgender women. Even the mention of pole dancing may bring Jennifer Lopez’s Hustlers scene to your mind, but it’s so much more than that.
Our shared community is close-knit and made up of incredible people of every gender identity. We celebrate our right to express ourselves on and off the pole. No matter how you identify, you have a story to tell.
Men are a minority in dance communities. Rigid and outdated views of masculinity prevent men from taking up dance, especially pole dancing. While their numbers are low, there are men leaving audiences in awe of their precision, strength, and presence.
It is time to consider the incredible contributions of men and male presenting individuals to the art of the pole movement. If you are considering joining the pole dancing world, here are some things you should know:
So You Think You Can Dance?
If you are at all concerned about whether you have what it takes to pole dance, don’t worry. Mallakhamb is an ancient Indian practice that was performed strictly by males and shares many similarities with pole dancing. Both a sport and art form, men performed aerial gymnastics and yoga postures with poles, canes, and hanging ropes.
Increased muscle mass and upper body strength often make men naturals for pole dance moves. The downside may be that you can muscle through more complicated movements, leading to poor form and risk for injuries. Be sure to focus on balance, form, and utilizing your whole body.
If you’re still not convinced that men can rock the pole, check out Dimitry Politov or Vladimir Karachunov, some modern-day pole dancers.
It’s a whole-body workout. As in, pull-ups will be easy. Seriously. You will get stronger. You will gain muscle and will probably lose weight as a byproduct. You will develop greater flexibility than you’ve ever had with increased range of motion from your shoulders down to your toes. You will gain a supportive community that will advocate for you in and out of the studio. This will benefit your physical, emotional, and mental well-being and future health.
You Don’t Glisten or Manscape
While there is no aesthetic reason for trimming your body hair, there is a functional one. Decreasing the amount of hair on your body, primarily your legs, will increase the amount of grip you have. Dancing with hairy legs is similar to the amount of grip you would have while wearing tights. You can still perform some moves, but you won’t get the same level of grip as with bare legs. If you’re OK with that, you can let it be, but for stronger grip, you can trim, shave, wax, or laser.
Pole dancing is hard. It’s a full-body workout, so you will sweat no matter who you are. Be sure to stay hydrated, keep your practice temperature cool, and frequently wipe down your pole with alcohol. Look for sweat-wicking pole dancing apparel, and towel off as needed to stay dry. If the amount of sweat is still interfering with your grip after these tips, try using a grip aid such as DewPoint to help you stick better.
What About What’s In Your Pants
The great thing about pole dancing is that it’s for you, so no one cares about what’s underneath your clothes. But you should. If you don’t have a large enough chest to get in your way, congratulations, you don’t need a bra. But you inevitably will need some kind of support. If you are concerned about contact with a pole causing pain between your legs, invest in a properly fitting dance belt early on. Support and protection are crucial and will allow you to practice without fear.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Don’t be afraid to try something based on your gender identity. Some moves may be considered harder or easier, but everybody is different. Don’t feel the need to stay in style lanes that some would label “masculine” or “feminine.” Find what is best for you, your body, and your unique style. Explore different classes, teachers, studios, and workshops to find things that connect with you. Speak up if you find a move uncomfortable or need modifications. But never limit yourself because of your gender. Every one of us is capable of dancing.
In the end, your dance practice is for you. Dancing doesn’t make you less of a “man”. And being one shouldn’t stop you from dancing. Your sex, gender, body type, or anything else society has made you worry about shouldn’t matter. Pole dancing is for everyone.
Pole dancing is a fantastic way to get in shape while having fun and feeling sexy, but if you’re jumping in for the first time, it might seem a little intimidating. We believe in fighting fear with good preparation. In this article, we’ll provide answers to some of the most common questions from pole dancing newbies so you’ll know exactly what to expect and how to prepare for your first pole dancing class.
How can I choose the best studio and class for me?
Review the studio’s website and feel free to look at Yelp and other customer rating sites for real experiences from the studio. Reading real life perspectives will allow you to make an informed decision.
Don’t be afraid to tour the studio and ask instructors for more info; those in the pole dancing community are famously supportive and willing to help. Touring the studio can help you learn for yourself whether it offers a well-maintained, uplifting environment. You can also learn first-hand about the different classes the studio offers.
Start with a beginners class. Rome was not built in a day, and pole splits are not mastered in one session. It is incredibly important to learn the basics of the exercise before moving to the advanced moves. Jumping into an advanced class can make you feel intimidated and discouraged. Always start small and work your way up.
What can I expect from my first class?
When just starting to pole dance, you won’t automatically be doing the Helix or Cradle Splits. Your instructor will likely start you off with plyometrics, stretching to increase flexibility, strength training, and basic floor movements. These combined will make sure that you are ready for taking on the pole. It eases you into the moderate-to-high intensity workout and makes it so you don’t “hit a wall.”
The class format for most studios is the same. The instructor will lead the class in a dynamic warmup to get the blood pumping and muscles warmed up. After you’re properly warmed up, your instructor will lead you through some conditioning exercises. This is where specific muscle groups and movements are targeted and repeated with varying levels of difficulty. Conditioning is the most important part of class, because this is where body awareness starts to happen as well as the muscle development needed to do all the fun Instagram shapes we see online! Then the main class will begin and the teacher will lead the class in aerobic movements, floor work, and beginning pole moves. Finally, you’ll ease into the cool down with stretching exercises to increase flexibility and prevent soreness.
Do I need to bring anything special to my class?
Pole dancing comes with some fabulous apparel options, but you’ll have time to find your style niche as you progress. You can start with a simple pair of pole dancing shorts or a body suit. And while you can look forward to working your way up to a pair of stilettos or thigh high boots, it’s fine to go barefoot to your first class.
Always remember to fuel and hydrate your body. Pole dancing can become intense, so it is vital to keep your body energized. Bring a small snack and a filled water bottle to each session so you’ll have the energy to keep up with the workout.
As a beginning pole dancer, your skin has not been trained for “pole kisses” or bruises and calluses that occur because of skin-to-pole contact. Invest in a pair of knee pads as well as Arnica gel to help bruises heal quickly.
What should I avoid?
Do not moisturize before your pole dancing class. Lotion may seem like a good idea, but it is not. It makes your hands and body slick, which may result in injury and ruin your workout and pole dancing experience.
Avoid wearing jewelry to the session. It could scrape against the pole, and since you are working to suspend yourself in the air, it could pose a safety hazard.
Don’t focus on others. Everyone showing up to pole dancing is at a different stage in their fitness and pole dancing journey. It’s counterproductive to judge yourself—or them. And taking the focus off of yourself and the instructor could be potentially harmful as you may not hear helpful instruction. Remember that you are there for yourself and no one else.
Is pole dancing plus-size friendly?
Yes, absolutely! Pole dancing welcomes everyone and has a community of support and positivity regardless of body type. Everyone should keep in mind that taking on some of the more challenging pole dancing moves requires enhanced strength, but with some grit and consistent attendance, you will see progress in your performance and be able to do moves you never thought you could master.
Pole dancing is a great way to gain strength and confidence for everybody. Don’t shy away from this amazing form of exercise because you think you have to be a certain size.
Though it is always nerve-racking to try something new, knowing what your session will entail will help ease your pole dancing fears. So remember: research to find the best studio for you, scrap the lotion, fuel your body, come ready to work, and most importantly, enjoy this fun, sensual, freeing form of exercise.