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What is Pole Fitness?

By Victoria Blackburn
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pole fitness is a type of exercise that is based around using a vertical stationary pole. The gymnastic exercises that are employed during a pole fitness routine will tone and refine muscles as well as shape and develop flexibility. Pole fitness clubs started in 2005, and they are gaining in popularity with many neighborhood classes now being offered. Not to be confused with "erotic pole dancing," a pole fitness workout can be as invigorating and burn as many calories as a traditional workout such as running, aerobics classes or other gym routines.

A stationary polished steel or brass pole is used as a tool or prop to perform the gymnastic moves during a pole fitness class. At the foundation of the program are the core fitness, strength and endurance training techniques required to perform the moves. The pole technique requires a broad range of muscle groups to work in unison, which strengthens and promotes muscular endurance. Exercises use the entire body including the bicep and tricep muscles of the arms, the deltoids and trapeziums of the shoulders, the back, abdominals and legs. Muscle definition and overall toning will occur, particularly in the arms, thighs and buttocks.

Learning the techniques and combining them with transitional moves, the person performing the exercises can develop a cardiovascular workout. Flipping upside down, for example, requires good upper body strength. By combining this with other planned dance patterns forms is what makes this an enjoyable way to exercise for many.

When classes are offered, they follow a strict format, as with any exercise class. Most classes usually begin with a warm up of stretching routines, followed by a demonstration of some of the exercises and routines that will be performed. Next, the class learns and practices the moves and techniques, before moving to a cool down session.

During a beginner class, spins and exercises with names such as forward spin with inside leg hook, can-can kick, spinning splits and sun wheel are usually what are taught. Intermediate moves may include maneuvers with name such as shoulder mount, upside down dismount and reverse tuck spin. Further advanced techniques include routines with interesting names like upside down spin with split, upside down with leg extended and basic upside down spin.

When starting a pole fitness routine, remember that moisturizers are forbidden. The greasy film left by lotions do not allow for the proper grip necessary to perform the moves on the pole. Any time the grip on the pole is compromised, it can present a serious health and safety issue. Jewelry, including rings, watches and bracelets, should also be removed before beginning a routine as they may scratch or otherwise damage the pole.

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