Pole fitness: an empowering alternative to the gym

For some people, pole fitness is a better way to work out

Advanced pole students at Studio in Essence prep their poles before beginning class.
Advanced pole students at Studio in Essence prep their poles before beginning class.   Jessica MacIsaac

After moving out of residence in her first year, Morgan Sangster, a student at the University of King’s College, says she became lazy about going to the gym, and worse yet – bored.

“I get really bored at the gym. Like, really, really bored. Treadmills and just running on the spot were not really my thing.”

So when one of Sangster’s friends asked her to go try pole fitness classes, Sangster decided to give it a go. She was instantly hooked.

“It’s so fun. It’s kind of become an obsession. I talk about it and tell people about it and try and recruit people all the time.”

[Sangster posing on pole. Photo taken from Sangster’s Instagram
Sangster posing on pole. Photo taken from Sangster’s Instagram  
According to the International Pole Dancing Fitness Association, pole fitness has its roots in Chinese and Indian culture. The Chinese would use poles for circus acts and Indians for training their wrestlers.

Pole fitness incorporates dance, acrobatic, and strength training and can be performed individually or in groups.

Sangster has been doing pole for about a  year now. She enjoys how it’s a full-body workout, as opposed to working out at the gym, where you target specific areas of your body on different days.

“With pole you just do it all at once. I’ve gotten a lot stronger,” says Sangster.

Pole fitness has been growing in popularity and might be on it’s way to becoming a recognized sport. There has been a push in Nova Scotia to get pole fitness in a provincial sports organization status, as well as a push internationally to become recognized as an Olympic sport.

Sangster goes to Studio in Essence, the first fitness studio in Halifax to offer pole fitness, according to owner Christy Sanford.

Sanford says what started as a way to generate revenue has become one of the most popular programs at the studio, although some people still have doubts before they go to their first class.

“People just think that they are not fit enough to do pole,” says Sanford. “So we let them know that it’s a program designed for beginners.”

Cait Anthony, a pole and aerial instructor at Studio in Essence, is a big fan of pole fitness.

“Whether it’s doing beautiful flow or choreography or doing crazy strength moves, so many people find out they can do stuff,” says Anthony.

Anthony demonstrates a move to her class.
Anthony demonstrates a move to her class.   Jessica MacIsaac

While the physical benefits show that pole fitness is a great workout, many sources also cite confidence as a reason to try it.

“You don’t have to come into (pole fitness) with anything!” says Anthony.

“You could have done no physical activity your whole life and the pole program here builds it up so that everyone is on an even playing field. You get stronger each class. It’s beautiful.”

There are three studios in the HRM area that offer pole fitness classes. Sangster says the community is very tight-knit.

Sangster hopes to continue with pole dancing after she is done school and even hopes to pursue it competitively after she perfects a couple more tricks.

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