Pole dancing ain’t what it used to be

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see those words? For many, images of strippers in gentlemen’s clubs appear. Luckily, those stigmas are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

More and more women, and even some men, are trying pole dancing in Ottawa. The trend is on the rise for reasons stretching from a fitness challenge to building confidence, or even meeting new people.

Ottawa offers several studios that specialize in pole dancing lessons, for ages 13 to 60 years old and parties to suit every fitness level.

It’s becoming a new favourite activity for many regardless or age or sex.

“It’s fun! You’ll never have that much fun exercising; it’s not a chore,” said Corinne Brodthagen, owner and instructor at 3Sixty Dance and Fitness who herself discovered pole eight years ago, before starting up her own business.

For beginners, pole dancing is an entirely new range of movement. It also proves to be a huge challenge, but every class men and women see results and feel better about themselves.

“People usually come in because they want to try something new and end up getting hooked,” said Brodthagen. “I have seen people lose 20, 30, even 40 pounds. Women who were previously afraid to wear the little booty shorts come in wearing smaller shorts than mine after a few weeks and running to the studio in sports bras.”

Lyne Fortin, 44, an instructor at 3Sixty Dance and Fitness who has two children, found her own success with just six years under her belt. Twenty pounds lighter and provincial pole-dancing champion, she is living proof that all you need to do is try.

But pole dancing isn’t all about weight loss.

“A friend told me of an open house at the studio with free one hour lessons, so we gave it a shot,” said Leyla Jasarevic, 22, an Ottawa University student who took up pole dancing because she wanted a new fitness routine.

“People underestimate how physically challenging and demanding it can be,” said Jasarevic, who found the exercise incredibly challenging at first despite already being physically fit.

Not only does pole dancing build incredible body strength, it also builds confidence.

“Pole really breaks some people out of their shells; I see some quiet shy girls really come out and see their confidence grow.  People make a lot of friends at the studio. It’s a very tight community,” said Brodthagen.

So what can a newcomer expect the first day of pole classes?

“The first class is usually spent on the floor,” said Brodthagen. “You work on some yoga moves and develop some strength and flexibility. Your last class of the program here is fun. We dress up, I have boas and some props in studio, there is a disco ball and we do our final three minute routines.”

“Depending on fitness level, people who start out can skip a level or even repeat a level if they need to,” said Brodthagen. “Everyone learns at their own pace.”

And those who love it and practice regularly would all agree that although there is a stigma attached to it, that will not stop them from enjoying it.

“There’s definitely a stigma. People hear pole dance and automatically think stripper, nudity, sex worker, prostitution or whatever else. But unless you give it a try you’ll never truly get a feel for what it is to be a pole dancer,” said Jasarevic. “I think it’s becoming less stigmatized. People are becoming aware of the growing pole community and now everyone wants to do it.”

There are videos all over the Internet popularizing the skill of pole dancing more than ever. It’s not widely regarded for its athleticism with difficult moves like flag-poling your body parallel to the ground or holding yourself up upside-down with one leg.

The creativity in the art of pole dancing is endless with mind-blowing tricks being invented faster than instructors can keep up with.

Whatever makes you want to learn the ropes – or should I say – the poles, don’t hesitate. This rewarding and fun activity may prove to be beneficial in at least one way for you.

Get ready because you may walk into the studio, but you’ll be strutting out.