Words by Tara Margulies
Hey there world! My name is Tara and seven years ago, I began my journey with pole fitness, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my adult life. Up until then, I’d gone through bouts of exercises I hated, with the sole goal just to burn calories, an objective perpetuated by so much of today’s mainstream messaging.
But when I began pole fitness, it was as if I’d unlocked a new form of self-love, and a love for this mode of exercise. Now, I look forward to every training session in the pole studio.
Since starting my journey in pole fitness, I’ve met so many people who’ve asked me all sorts of questions about how to start out in pole fitness, so if the thought has ever crossed your mind, you’re in the right place!
WHAT IS POLE FITNESS? A BEGINNER’S GUIDE
Pole fitness is a full-body sport that will make you stronger, more flexible, more coordinated, and more mobile. It will work muscles you didn’t know you had, I promise. And I’ve even noticed that pole fitness has helped to improve other aspects of my wellbeing, such as my memory – learning a minute of full choreography is an exercise in itself! But its best benefit of all? It’s immensely empowering.
On the first approach, it’s incredibly humbling. I remember realising just how much harder all of the beginners' moves were in practice, compared to seeing people move in a way that appeared so gracefully and skillfully. Making the moves appear smooth, I came to learn, is the hardest part.
When I began, my skin hurt, my muscles hurt, and my ego hurt too. Once I got over that stage and started being able to do moves I could be proud of, everything changed. The bruises became pole kisses, the people training around me became my community and my new support network. I left my ego with my shoes at the studio door and I’d go to sleep dreaming about pole combos that I wanted to try.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POLE FITNESS
Pole is a very versatile practice, which is one of the things I love most about the sport. The pole has two settings: static and spin.Static Pole:
On static, the pole doesn’t rotate, which is perfect for more dynamic moves, flips, low flows (combinations that are low to the floor), and exotic choreos – more on those later.Spinning Pole:
Spinning pole is a whole different kettle of fish. Putting the pole on spin will make it rotate, so you only have to give it a small push of momentum for it to keep moving whilst you’re making your gorgeous shapes.
Each dancer has a completely different style, and that’s the beauty of pole: you can really make it your own.Exotic Pole:
A bit more about exotic pole, as this is the one style that tends to put people off when they start their pole journey. I know this because I felt it too.
Pole dance as a hobby, art and sport wouldn’t exist without strippers, and exotic pole is a nod to those roots. Making choreographies look effortless is as hard as any upside down pretzel-like trick we’ll ever learn, and you’ll only truly realise that when you try it.
Exotic pole merits respect just as much as any other form of pole – it’s incredibly difficult to execute and demands a lot of skill and strength. So don’t knock ‘til you try it, as they say.
I’d been practicing pole for 2 years before I took my first exotic class, and I wish I’d done it sooner.
HOW TO START POLE FITNESS
This is the question I get asked the most. As with most other forms of exercise, the best thing to do is go down to a class.
When I first started, I was too nervous to go to class on my own. I messaged a few of my friends until I found someone who wanted to come with me. Knowing that there was someone else in the room that I could debrief with afterwards really helped me, so if trying something new is out of your comfort zone I would definitely recommend it.
If, however, you can’t find someone to go with you, please don’t let this stop you from trying it for yourself. Pole studios are some of the most welcoming and friendly places I’ve ever had the pleasure of being in.
People of all shapes and sizes come to dance, and no matter how good they get, everyone started in the same place and will completely understand and appreciate where you are in your pole journey.
DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK
If pole fitness has taught me anything (other than some ridiculously cool tricks), it is to stand up for myself and what I love. Attitudes towards pole as a sport are already changing quite rapidly, which is great to see. But I’ve not met anyone who’s taken up pole fitness without resistance: be it hesitancy on their side, or wary glances from people in their life.
Think of this as a chance to break the mould. You’re taking part in not only a cool sport that will literally workout your entire body, but also a movement to change people’s minds about what is essentially gymnastics with a vertical metal bar. Don’t let anyone stand in your way.
Pole fitness is a fantastic form of exercise that will work you from head to toe. Just like with anything new, it’ll take a while to get the hang of it - but don’t let that discourage you from trying it out or from showing up session after session!
It’s a real artform with versatile styles through static pole, spinning pole, and exotic pole varieties. With time and practice I’m sure you’ll love the feeling of expression and strength that comes with pole. What are you waiting for?