Why a Pole Dancing Workout Class Isn't as Intimidating as You Think
By Lauren Bedosky July 3, 2019
Pole dancing is a popular form of dance that people of all fitness levels can (and do!) enjoy. While some people still associate it with entertainment of a more adult nature, studios continue to pop up around the country, presenting pole dancing for what it is: a form of artistic expression. Or, if you're more fitness-inclined: a killer full-body workout.
Yes, pole dancing is legit exercise. It incorporates moves like spins, climbs and holds on a pole, as well as transitions from the floor to the pole. Expect to work your upper body, legs and core.
Here's everything you need to know before signing up for your first class.
Who Are Pole Dancing Classes For?
"Pole dancing classes are for anyone looking to have a good time, learn new things and surround themselves with good people," says Jordan Mazur, owner of Muse Pole Fitness in Columbia, Missouri.
To that end, most studios welcome people of all genders, abilities and fitness levels. "We've had men and women in their 60s and children as young as nine," says Brittin Leigh, owner of Frestyl Fitness, a pole dancing and movement studio with locations throughout Minnesota. "Our curriculum is accessible, so we've also had students who don't have two arms and two legs." Still, some classes may be more advanced than others, so check with the studio to find out which classes are appropriate for you.
Read more: The Best Beginner Dance Exercise Videos
No matter your skill level, pole dancing will give you a full-body workout. You'll build strength, endurance, balance, mobility and flexibility in a single session, which makes it a great option as a primary workout. Or, it can be a fun way to supplement an existing fitness routine.
Leigh says many pole dancing studios emphasize enjoyment of the process over a specific outcome, but it depends on the studio: "Some [studios] are more performance-based, where you walk in and say, 'my goal is to climb to the ceiling,' and within the next couple of months, they will help you do that."
Pole Dancing Class Format and Size
In general, pole dancing classes are small (Frestyl limits them to five [to eight] people, while other studios max out at 10 or 12 students), which means you'll get to know the instructor and other students pretty well.
In terms of format and style, there's so much variation between pole dancing studios that you'll have to do some research to find the one (and the type of class) that appeals most to you.
At Muse, classes begin with a 15-minute warm-up, followed by tricks and transitions on the pole. "Depending on the level of the class, students will either finish by doing a combination together with music or freestyle to their song of choice," says Mazur. Expect to share the pole with one other person throughout the session (there are up to six poles in one room).
Muse also offers choreography classes where you learn a set of moves for a specific song and perform the choreography in groups of up to three people per pole.
At Frestyl, a 75-minute workout begins with an extensive warm-up on a yoga mat before progressing to standing work — moves like climbing and holding positions — on the poles. Expect to perform moves off the pole, too, like getting down on the floor and standing back up.
Call studios or visit their websites to get an idea of what class will be like: Some focus more on sexy movements, while others are more sports-based and artistic, says Leigh. Doing your homework can help you make sure you end up in a class featuring the style you're looking for.
Most pole dancing studios do have one major thing in common: The instructors and students are generally friendly and accepting of all body types, skill levels and identities. "Each class has a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. Everyone is there to succeed together and have fun," says Mazur.
What to Bring and Wear to Pole Dancing Class
Leigh recommends wearing layers to pole dancing class: a pair of leg warmers or sweatpants over shorts, and a long-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt on top of a cropped top or sports bra. This way, you can stay warm at the beginning of your workout and easily strip layers away as you start sweating.
Wear what feels comfortable, but keep in mind that you'll want some exposed skin to help you grip the pole. Some studios may even require shorts and crop tops (men go shirtless), so check with the studio beforehand if you have concerns or if you're not comfortable wearing minimal clothing.
As for footwear, you'll want to practice barefoot or in socks, though some studios allow dance shoes with heels. You may also want to bring a yoga mat, towel and bottle of water, though some studios provide mats and towels. Ask the studio before your first class.
Read more: How to Find the Best Workout Clothes for You
How to Make the Most of Your First Pole Dancing Class
Avoid any and all face, body and hair products before class to make sure your grip isn't compromised by grease. Not to mention, moisturizer can damage the poles and may require extra cleaning. When in doubt, wash your hands and any other exposed skin before you get started.
Be sure to sign up for the class that's appropriate for your skill level. Some studios offer sessions that are suitable for all levels, but others work at different tiers. Many studios that offer advanced sessions require you to take prerequisite classes or go through testing before you can move on to the next level. Check with the studio beforehand if you're not sure the class you're interested in is appropriate for you.
Pole Dancing Locations and Pricing
Pole dancing studios are popping up in cities all over the country. Check for local studios in your area. Here are a few places to start.
Buy one class for $30 at any of their Minnesota locations, including Minneapolis, Mankato, Rochester and Blue Earth. There are also a variety of membership levels available, including an unlimited membership for $195 per month.
Pricing at Muse in Columbia, Missouri varies depending on the class, but they also offer several membership options, such as an unlimited membership for $145 a month and 12 weeks unlimited for $360.
Divine Movement, which has two locations in the Seattle area, offers workshops and series, as well as drop-in classes for different skill levels. New students should take the Pole 101 drop-in session ($34).
This Chicago studio also offers a variety of classes and workshops for different skill levels. Pricing varies according to the class, so check their schedule for specifics.
Book an intro to pole dancing fitness for $15 at this Albuquerque, New Mexico studio. Single classes are $20 after the intro-level class, or you can opt for one of several membership options.
The Vertitude in Santa Rosa, California offers classes, series and workshops to suit a variety of skill levels. Pricing varies, so check their schedule for specifics.
What's it like to go pole dancing in Mankato, MN, Rochester, MN and Minneapolis, MN? Read a little from our students to find out!
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March 25, 2018
Mankato Mom Blogger & Frestyl Student Rachel Danks
"It’s not about changing the body you have, it’s about using the body you have to its fullest potential."
I typically get one of two reactions when I say that I pole dance or do pole fitness. People are either thoroughly interested and curious about it or they scoff at it since pole dance is almost always associated with stripping. The title of this post basically says it all. I love to pole dance, […]
About Rachel Danks
Rachel grew up in the small town of LeSueur, about 30 minutes from Mankato. She spent some time living in Mankato while going to school for Accounting and Business Management. After living in LeSueur for a few years, she has since moved back to Mankato with her hubby, James. Rachel and James bought an older home in downtown Mankato where they live with their 18-month-old son, Jameson, and their 3 cats, Nala, Biscuits & Gravy. Rachel works for Ridley Inc., an agricultural feed company also in downtown Mankato as an Accounting Assistant. She is new to blogging and has no idea what she's doing but is very excited for this awesome opportunity to speak her mind and connect with other moms in the area!
Jan 20, 2018
Minneapolis Pole Dance student Mary Loewen
So it’s a week until the anticipated Mimosa Flow Lab in Mankato...anyone kind of nervous??
I am in the same boat. While I love pole, I can’t help but feel some jitters about there being a photographer there. Like, they will be looking at me. While I’m dancing. In like, no clothes (because that’s how I dance, you dance with whatever clothing you feel comfy with).
Let us all take one deep breath together and tell ourselves, “I am beautiful, strong and worthy of being photographed.”
Worthy? Why did I use that word? Why is this entry starting out with anxiety, doubts, self consciousness?
Well, it’s because those are all of the thoughts running through my head as the event approaches. I have had horrible self image problems my whole life and have never been good at putting myself out there to be seen. I was bullied for so long, I had a friend growing up that would get jealous when people complimented me in front of her, so I would immediately detract and say something like, “Oh, well thanks, but my friend is so much more beautiful/even cuter/better/blah blah than me, don’t ya think?” And then there would be that awkward silence as they said, “Oh, yeah, her too” to avoid the inevitable sad face that would show up on my friend’s face if they didn’t say anything. As life went on, I kind of just stopped really absorbing people’s compliments on my physique/physical appearance/facial attractiveness. If they commented with, “There goes the walking stick/bag of bones/twig/praying mantis…” and so many other hurtful and impactful names/labels, that is what I saw.
Those were actual names I was called growing up, unfortunately. I hope that if any of you wonderful beings were called a mean name that you know you are not that. Only you define yourself. Just want to make that clear.
“But Mary, why did you let those mean things define you and how you saw yourself?” Well, simply, I just did. I was/am sensitive about things like that. We live in a society were we have a stupid “standard” of beauty. I get told I fit that, I get told I don’t, I hear others being told the same thing. It’s dumb. If you have blood running through your veins, you are beautiful. If have glitter running through your veins, I think you might be a magical unicorn…
I wanted to share these nerves with you because I imagine some of you might also feel a little nervous...anyone? (You don’t really have to answer that)
But you know what is getting me through those nerves? Reminding myself that I am a bad a** for just doing pole dancing in general! Like, people, we are bold and brave! We are doing something that a lot of society has a certain view of, but taking that chance to show the world (if you choose) that it is an extremely expressive art form and way of exercise. It helps us stay fit and healthy, physically and mentally! I mean, I have never been so comfortable in my body right now than in my entire life. Not even just my body, but just as a person. I’ve gone after things I used to never dream of actually chasing, but then my head says, “You dance on a freakin’ pole, Mary. This is easier than a cake walk.”
I would like to open dialogue or just make you think/talk to yourself with these two thought prompts:
- Are you nervous for having your picture taken while dancing? If so, why and how can your peers help you feel comfortable? What kinds of things do you tell yourself to calm your nerves?
- How has your physical/mental/social/self life changed since you’ve started this art/sport? What are some of your goals in life that pole dancing might make you feel confident enough to attain?
I am so excited to see what people are willing to share about all of this. And, I am really excited for the Mimosa Flow Lab a week from now!
I know you are all, too :)
Jan 10, 2018
Minneapolis Pole Fitness student Mary Loewen
Hello lovely dancers!
I have been invited to write a few blog pieces about, what else, pole dancing! Now, I have met some of you briefly and some I haven’t met, but we all have one thing in common: we love to express ourselves through dance.
Because some of us haven’t met or only briefly met, I thought the first piece would be a nice opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Mary. I went to Augsburg College, now University, studied vocal performance and I love music theatre. I wound up on a pole trying to get to know the ladies I worked with over the summer at Old Log Theatre during Ghost: The Musical.
Little did I know that I would fall in love. That I would find something I would later become super passionate about. That I would find a physical exercise that I actually really, really liked. The biggest thing, though, is that I didn’t expect to start a journey of finding myself.
Did anyone else cry after their first pole class?
I did. I became so overwhelmed by emotions of both fear and confidence. If you don’t mind, I would like to share where some of the emotions came from and discuss the power they sometimes hold over me, especially when dancing.
I grew up in a pretty small town where everyone knew everyone and their business. I have two older sisters and an older brother, so yes, I am the baby. Any others out there? Did you ever feel that sometimes if the attention was on you, it should not have been? Like, you would have rather had the attention on anyone else, BUT YOU? I felt like that all the time. I was/am a caregiver type person. Spotlight did not include me in it. The goal was to make everyone else the star of their lives.
Anyway, I digress, but if you want to talk more about that, contact me :)
I’m from a religious upbringing. My dad is a pastor and my mom was, well, the pastor’s wife. I was confirmed Methodist, but really my dad has had so many churches throughout my time, that I’m pretty much just lost.
Again, I digress.
My mom is my best friend. She is the most lovely woman on the planet Earth. She supports me in everything I do, without judgement. I love her.
My dad, on the other hand, well, he and I have a complicated relationship. We always have. I know he loves me and I love him, and I know he wants what (he thinks) is best for me.
Did ya see those parenthesis? Yeah, I thought it would stick out. He’s conservative. I’m...not. When I told him that I was taking pole fitness classes, and I said fitness to lessen the blow, he literally said, “Oh, no…” and then sort of chuckled after some pretty awkward silence.
He and I don’t talk about class. He typically doesn’t like any of my Facebook statuses about pole. It’s okay. I understand where he is coming from, even though I don’t agree with it. We don’t argue about it, or at least, we haven’t yet…
That used to make me feel nervous about continuing classes in pole.
Has anyone else ever felt that? A little apprehension about taking pole lessons because of what someone else would/might think?
How have you dealt with that?
I have found others who are supportive of me continuing lessons. I have sort of a second pair of parents (we can talk about that later) and they are so happy for me for finding something I love, that makes me feel like I can express myself. That I found something that while it gives me fear, it’s a fear that I am determined to conquer.
I share this all with you to open discussion, to give support, and to provide an opportunity for sharing why we love to pole dance.
I am really excited to see where we will all go together with this blog!
May 9, 2017
Frestyl Student Grace Webb, and Radish! Magazine contributor
Every woman knows the importance of a good workout—strengthening your bones and muscles, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, helping control your weight. But everyone also knows the difficulties of sticking with consistent exercise—finding the time, mustering up the motivation, working through the aches and pains. Maybe one of the most challenging parts is finding a workout that truly works for you that isn’t mind-numbingly dull, that tricks you into having fun instead of counting the minutes until you can finally escape.
That’s where pole dancing fitness comes in.
Pole dancing is relatively new to the fitness scene—at least in the Midwest—but it’s quickly taking the region by storm. Minnesota already has several pole dance fitness studios scattered across the state. While many are clustered in the Twin Cities, there are some available further south for women brave enough to give pole dancing a whirl.
Frestyl Fitness, located in downtown Mankato, is one such studio. It was started in January 2013 by Minnesota native Brittin Leigh, who has pole danced for fitness since 2011.
“I love pole dancing because I don’t know I’m working out,” she said. “I’m just having fun. There’s a freedom to the motion. It’s the fact that when it’s over…I’ve lost track of time.”
Besides its Mankato headquarters, it offers classes in three other locations—Rochester, Stillwater and Minneapolis—and a regional staff of 14 people. Edge Fitness in Rochester has weekly Frestyl classes. Drop-in rates are $25 for non-members, or $12.50 for member. Everyone is welcome at the classes, members, non-members, beginners or experienced dancers.
Frestyl has also branched out into gyms, offering pole fitness classes taught by Frestyl instructors. Currently, five gyms have started offering Frestyl classes, in places as far flung as Denver and Chicago, and several more have expressed an interest.
Frestyl’s various locations offer all sorts of classes, from a beginner course that doesn’t even include poles to advanced choreography classes that help students prepare for different pole dance fitness competitions. Because of this, anyone from any background can participate—men and women, young and old. Leigh said students tend to be in their mid-thirties, many of them career women, but they’ve had students as young as teens and as old as in their 60s.
The studio often receives referrals from physical therapists, cardiologists, chiropractors and even health systems like the Mayo Clinic, suggesting patients utilize pole fitness to help recover from everything from injuries to assault. Frestyl’s classes are even accessible for people who have lost limbs or are differently abled, since Leigh specifically designed her curriculum to be able to be used by every type of student.
While it may seem intimidating at first, Leigh stressed that pole dancing, when properly supervised, isn’t nearly as dangerous as new students may fear. Frestyl’s top priority is keeping its students safe, and one of the ways studio instructors ensure this is by never “spotting” (lifting) a student into a position that they aren’t able to get into—or more importantly, out of—by themselves.
“We’re pretty focused on safety and empowerment,” she said. “Students can do things on their own, if they’re allowed the time and the energy to grow.”
Mankato resident Rachel Tanquist, 26, is one of the studio’s newer students. She took Frestyl’s Basic Intro class in late 2016 and the Climbing class afterwards.
She said pole fitness is great because it offers change and variety instead of the same boring routine every time.
“With pole dancing, I am so focused on accomplishing the task/trick at hand that I don’t even feel like I’m working out—until the soreness hits after,” she said. “I actually look forward to going into class every week instead of dreading working out because I can’t wait to see what new move I can accomplish next!”