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   Inside Out - South: Monday November 1, 2004

POLE POSITION

Vanessa Feltz pole dancing
Vanessa Feltz spins out of control

Pole dancing is trading up from the seedy image of lap dancing clubs to the respectability of dance studios, gyms and kitchens (yes kitchens) all over the country.

We join Vanessa Feltz as she gives pole dancing a whirl.

In recent years, pole dancing has been attracting a steady stream of women keen to improve their fitness, flexibility and have fun at the same time.

A handful of dance studios and gyms are now offering pole dancing alongside the more traditional aerobics and step classes.

But can pole dancing successfully shimmy out of its sleazy image of the past and into the mainstream fitness world? Inside Out goes to Brighton to find out.

Poles apart

In the past, pole dancing has been largely confined to the world of lap dancing bars and night clubs.

Vanessa Feltz watching a pole dancer
"These places are not my cup of tea."
Vanessa Feltz at a pole dancing club

And shaking off that image may take some time as even the liberal-minded Vanessa explains.

"When you think of pole dancing you'd be forgiven for thinking of this;

"A basement flaunting a lady who leaves little to the imagination, aptly called - oh dear - Buffy."

But swap the scantily clad lady for a mum of three and the basement for a kitchen and you could be looking at the future of pole dancing.

Thirty-four-year-old Lorraine is buying a new kitchen appliance, but this new addition won't be improving her cooking, but her fitness.

At the cost of £150, Lorraine is having a pole fitted in her kitchen to allow her to practise her new sport at home.

"I might join the gym, but I'd never go. Same with aerobics.

"Pole dancing is different. It's sexy and challenging. I think it's fantastic," enthuses Lorraine.

"I can't wait 'til I can swing round on it and have a practise on my own."

Exercise benefits
  • A good session on the pole can burn more calories than a good session in the gym and will certainly provide more muscle tone.

  • Some moves are trickier than others. Imagine having to support your entire weight with one arm, or supporting your upper body weight with your stomach muscles to get an idea of the level of effort involved.

  • You can expect increased muscle definition and toning all over especially in the arms, thighs, and buttocks.

  • You can expect to burn about 250 calories per session.

    Source: Polestars

And it seems she's not the only one.

The pole manufacturer reveals that in the past two months, they've sold thousands of poles for domestic use across the country.

In a class of their own

It is in classes like the ones held by Binny in Brighton, that pole dancing is becoming a respectable pastime.

Binny left her career has a professional dancer to give pole dancing classes and they are proving popular with women of all shapes, sizes and ages.

"It's usually girls bored of the gym," explains Binny.

"They want to do something a bit different, a bit more energetic."

Fifty-three-year-old Antoinette runs a clothes shop in Hove and has abandoned the gym to become one of Binny's top pupils.

Antoinette insists that pole dancing has not only improved her overall fitness, but muscle tone and strength too.

Pole dancing requires you to support your body weight with your arms and legs in turn, which is great for increasing both upper and lower body strength.

"You can carry enormous amounts of shopping," jokes Antoinette.

Swingers

Pole dancers not only remark on the physical benefits they reap, but the psychological ones too.

Vanessa Feltz pole dancing
Pole dancing is a great way to tone muscle

Any physical exertion has a positive mental effect due to the endorphins (natural pain blockers) exercise produces.

But many practising pole dancing insist they feel increased confidence afterwards - not to mention the confidence it must take to swing life and limb around a slippery metal pole in the first place.

"The girls come to get different things out of it," says Binny.

"It's mainly a confidence thing.

"The girls go away from the course really happy and a lot more confident."

It seems pole dancing has even been getting endorsements from the medical profession too.

One London doctor prescribed pole dancing lessons to a patient suffering from depression.

Sisters are doing it for themselves

For Vanessa the experience has proved an enlightening one. Not only has pole dancing proved its mettle as a great way of keeping fit but it has succeeded in turning its old image on its head.

For the women in Brighton, pole dancing is no longer about men, but about women getting together, getting fit and having fun.

And never mind about "women coming out of the kitchen", with her new pole installed, Lorraine is heading straight back in.

Read Pole dancing - Getting started

See also ...

Inside Out: South
Pole dancing - Getting started

On the rest of Inside Out
Pole dancing

On bbc.co.uk
BBC Berkshire: In a spin
BBC Berkshire: Shake your tush
BBC Leeds: Pole dancing students
BBC Leeds: Pole dancing lessons
BBC Leeds: Virtual pole dancing class

On the rest of the web
Polestars
Polecatz
Polepeople
Mypole
PolePosition-UK

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

zoe
this sounds great been interested in pole dancing lessons for a while. is there any classes in the teesside area?? pls

Chloe S
it sounds like a great way to get people to get fit, more places should do it!

Adrianne
I live in Horsham. Please can you let me know nearest class.

Inside Out
You'll find a list of pole dancing organisations in our links section - top right hand side of this page. Hope they help

Sarah Smith
it looks like fun, Where do i find out about the classes?

Debbie Willis
Now I'd like to try it too. I live in Brighton, where do I find out about the classes?



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