Every week we send a brave member of the USC team to try a new sport we have on offer. This week our workout explorers try their hand at pole dancing, a sport that is just as much for men as it is for women. Here’s how their very first lesson went down…
What is Pole Dancing?
There are many pre-conceptions about pole dancing. Yes, it does involve spinning around a pole but (as I quickly learnt) it doesn’t actually resemble the strip-club routine we’re used to seeing in The Sopranos. Pole dancing uses a mixture of core strength, body weight and coordination to provide a fun, high-energy and (very) challenging workout.
Pole Stars Berlin was founded in 2015 by husband and wife team Katja and Roman. Their ethos is simple: to introduce pole dancing to the mainstream and provide a great workout at the same time.
What can you expect?
Pole Stars Berlin is located in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district. The bright, spacious studio faces the street and consists of a large space for yoga and pilates workouts and a large room with about 10 poles for dance workouts. I was relieved to see curtains separated the pole dancing area so the class wouldn’t be on display to any unsuspecting passersby.
I was greeted by Katja, the co-owner of the studio and our teacher for the day. Today I was trialling the Pole Dance for Beginners class. There were 5 other women in the class with me, each with varying levels of experience. As it’s a workout and a dance class in one, even pole dancing veterans can have a challenging training session.
Katja had sent me an email beforehand telling me to bring “hot pants, socks and something long for the warm-up.” I was so disturbed by the concept of hot pants that I forgot to bring all of the other stuff. It was only after we were assigned a pole that I noticed everyone else was wearing leggings and jumpers except for me who looked wildly inappropriate.
How was the workout?
Katja led us through an extensive warm-up using a mixture of aerobic moves and floor stretches, all choreographed to some excellent dance tracks. I was instantly alarmed by my inflexibility (at one point Katja was doing the splits; I can’t quite touch my toes), but Katja gave me alternatives when I couldn’t manage the full stretch.
After a 10 minute warm up Katja showed us a Fireman Spin. She made it look easy but the reality involved supporting all of my body weight with my arms and executing a 360 spin around the pole, all the while making sure my legs, feet and torso were aligned. Add to this the challenge of trying not to laugh as I caught sight of myself in the mirror, and I realised what I’d got myself in for.
Katja was an amazing guide and I was surprised how quickly I got the hang of it. After I’d mastered the move I thought I deserved a breather. Katja disagreed. “Alice, why are you standing still?”
Katja taught us several more basic moves throughout the class, all of them challenging in different ways. We always had to use our shoulders, arms and core to keep our balance and maintain our position. My shins got an absolute battering after several over-enthusiastic and ill-timed leaps from me.
After 45 minutes it was time to put together everything we’d learnt into a sequence. Katja put on a 90s banger, turned the music up and led us through everything she’d taught us. I couldn’t believe what I’d achieved in less than an hour.
How did I feel after?
Here’s a list of things that hurt after my pole dancing class in no particular order: hands, shins, shoulders, stomach, bum, thighs, left foot (I’d smacked it on the pole quite early on).
Despite all this, I felt great. I was very proud of what I’d achieved in such a short space of time. I felt physically tired from the full-body workout but mentally energised as I’d had such a great time doing it.
The next day a few bruises appeared but nothing serious. My shoulders definitely took the muscle-hit and I struggled to lift them for about 3 days afterwards.
Benefits of Pole Dancing
I learnt that pole dancing is a full-body workout not just for dancers – anybody can do it from any sporting background
It’s a mixture of core training, upper body strength and coordination
It’s so much fun – you can’t help but smile doing a workout that’s so different and playful
Have you ever considered competing in a sport? Pole dancing is a great competitive sport with many competitions in Germany and worldwide
The combination of core and strength training raises your heart rate – this improves your overall cardiovascular health and speeds up your metabolism
Don’t forget to bring…
Water, a towel and (very important) warm clothes for the warm up! And make sure you wear hot pants underneath so you can grip the pole. No need for shoes, our workout was bare foot.
Pole dancing is a lot of fun and an effective training session. Urban Sports Clubs has several Pole Dancing partners across Germany and France. Try it, we double dare you.