The use of a pole for sports dates back almost 800 years to the traditional Indian sport Mallakhamb. Using a wooden pole that is wider than a modern pole, the sport promotes the use of strength and endurance.
Despite still carrying negative connotations, over the last few years pole dancing has gained popularity as a mainstream form of fitness that is practiced in gyms and dance studios all over the world.
Rachel Bishop has been a coach at Iron X Fitness here in Ottawa since 2015. She’s been pole dancing herself for about seven years now, but started teaching because she finds joy in sharing her knowledge and helping others achieve their goals.
“There’s a lot of comparisons that people make between gymnastics or other types of sports where girls are doing very similar poses,” Bishop says. “And sometimes they’re wearing little swimsuits that are similar to what a pole dancer would wear. But because there’s a pole in the picture, some people think it’s inappropriate.”
Pole dancing is slowly becoming recognized as a sport with various competitions being held across the world. Advocates of pole fitness have been trying to change people’s opinions on pole dancing and demonstrate that pole fitness can be a non-sexual form of aerobic exercise. Like many sports, pole dancing increases strength and coordination but it also comes with a newfound confidence that empowers a lot of women.
Pole dancing is a full body workout. The sport involves lifting your body weight for an extended period of time, climbing a vertical a pole and inverting your body. It strengthens your muscles and It’s a fun alternative for anyone looking to loose weight.
Morgan Corcoran is a student at uOttawa and she’s been pole dancing since 2015. Currently she does pre-advanced classes at 3Sixty Dance and Fitness.
“I think anyone can do pole, I’ve seen people of all body types and all genders try pole and fall in love with it,” Corcoran says. “It doesn’t take a specific body type to do it although a lot of people think that and are afraid to try it.”
The Ottawa pole community is growing every day. With studios all over town, there is a wide selection to choose from. Corcoran describes it as an open and supportive community.
“My favourite part of pole dancing is finally being able to find a sport that gets me fit but that I also enjoy,” Corcoran says.