Pole dancing has always required the same levels of athleticism, elegance and skill as gymnastics and ballet. While these benefits were overlooked for a while, in recent years they’ve come to the fore as associations with the practice have moved away from the strip club and into the studio.
People all over the world are now discovering the health benefits of pole dancing. Here’s why.
Pole dancing is a complete body workout. Even at beginner level, the moves are dynamic and engage multiple muscles at once. It’s little wonder, therefore, that so many personal trainers are embracing it.
Many pole dancing manoeuvres require you to lift and hold your own body weight, so it’s ideal for building strength in your back muscles, biceps, triceps and forearms. Even if you come to a class without much upper body strength, you’ll soon build it up through pole dancing.
Here are some common pole dancing moves that help build upper body strength –
Beyond upper body strength, pole dancing gives you strong core muscles. Your stomach muscles, abs and lower back muscles are all used to perform moves where you need to climb, lift your legs or hold their weight.
These moves are perfect for improving core strength –
We weren’t kidding when we said pole dancing is a complete body workout. Initially, you might find that most moves depend on upper body and core strength. However, the grip for the more acrobatic intermediate manoeuvres comes from your legs. Sometimes, even without the assistance of your arms.
Try these moves for leg strength –
Altogether, there are very few muscles you don’t use while pole dancing. The repetition involved in perfecting a manoeuvre means that by the time you nail it, you’ll be substantially stronger without even realising it.
Each of us are born with a full range of motion in our joints, but this is lost if we don’t regularly make use of it. In turn, our joints can feel stiff and our range of motion restricted. The good news is, you can condition your joints to restore flexibility – and pole dancing is perfect for it.
We’ve covered the importance of flexibility before. It’s about more than just being bendy – it has practical health benefits as well.
When one part of our body is less mobile than it should be, other parts end up unnaturally compensating for it. This can lead to premature joint wear, poor posture and even poor form for basic movements like walking or lifting. Poor form means more aching, cramping and increased chance of injury, which in time may result in chronic joint issues.
Given the twisting, stretching and bending involved in pole dancing, you’re training your muscles and joints to be more flexible. You’re also improving your sense of balance and spatial awareness.
Some of the more advanced pole dancing techniques border on contortion, but don’t panic. By the time you’re at that level, you’ll have massively increased your flexibility already.
As quoted in the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines from 2019:
“If physical activity were a drug, we would refer to it as a miracle cure, due to the great many illnesses it can prevent and help treat.”
Those same guidelines recommend that adults spend at least 2 and a half hours a week doing moderate intensity exercise. Hitting this benchmark reduces the likelihood of developing Type II Diabetes by 40%, heart disease by 35% and certain cancers by 20%. In fact, it opens the door to countless additional health benefits.
Pole dancing is an ideal way to hit this 2 and a half hour weekly recommendation because it keeps your heart rate up and incorporates your whole body, even at beginner level.
Furthermore, pole dancing falls somewhere between a moderate and intense physical activity comparable to aerobics or calisthenics. This means you don’t have to do it as long each week to reap the cardiovascular health benefits of pole dancing. Or, better still, you get a greater benefit for the same amount of time.
We spoke to Jaime Rangeley, a pole dancing instructor from The Pole Studio, who added:
“The beginning of each class has a cardio component to warm up the body and prepare it for exercise. In addition to that we put together tricks, spins, and transition moves into combos to increase endurance. Other health benefits include increased strength and coordination as well as neurological benefits. Learning new movement has been proven to develop new neural pathways and help reduce the risk of dementia.”
Among the health benefits of pole dancing is the fact it helps you approach weight loss from both a cardio and strength perspective. High activity in the sessions helps you burn calories and all the lifting, climbing and holding will help you build muscle.
Increasing and consistently maintaining your level of physical activity raises your basal metabolic rate as well. This is the number of calories your body burns when at rest. So, even when you’re not pole dancing, your body will be optimised to burn more calories between sessions.
Weight loss is related to, but distinct from, cardiovascular health because you don’t have to be a high performing athlete to be in good physical health. However, pole dancing will result in you burning fat and gaining muscle so if your goal is to become leaner as opposed to just staying healthy, pole dancing is highly effective.
“Many students do report weight loss and muscle gain, as pole dance is a very dynamic form of exercise. But regardless of any change to body shape, what I see in every single student is an increase in body confidence and self-esteem. Although I have taught many other fitness classes, what makes pole dance unique is that despite being a demanding workout, we always have a lot of fun and there is real camaraderie among the students.”
That brings us onto the next point.
All exercise is good for mental health – endorphins are released when we exercise, which are proven to reduce stress and anxiety. This, combined with improved level of health, positive physical changes to your appearance and the mental stimulation physical exercise offers, is great for your self-esteem.
In addition to this, there are some unique mental health benefits of pole dancing too. For instance, it creates a sense of solidarity with other classmates as each of you take control of your body. You’ll also find a sense of empowerment and body confidence in pole dancing.
As Alison Hudd, founder of Pole People, said in an interview with the Evening Standard:
“It’s about developing your confidence, getting stronger, and being proud of what your body is capable of doing – because it can do so much more than you’d ever thought possible.”
Beyond this, at any level of pole dancing, there’s the satisfaction of achieving a spectacular feat, not just through athleticism but also through determination and study of the artform. Put simply, pole dancing is as fulfilling as any pursuit can hope to be.