Pole Dancing Is More About Fitness Than Sensuality

And other misconceptions people have about this art form.

Pole Dancing Is More About Fitness Than Sensuality
Image by the author.

And other misconceptions people have about this art form.

When I tell people I’m a pole dancer, I’m often met with shock.

“Do you do it professionally?” I’ve been asked. “Where can I see your pole dancing videos?”

People are always surprised when I tell them I’m an amateur and I never post my videos online. Pole dancing is my way of staying fit. It’s my sport, and I do it for myself. If I started seeking validation from internet strangers for my pole dancing videos, I might start judging myself over the perfection of the presentation and stop enjoying this fantastic workout.

That’s an abyss I’m not willing to risk falling into.

But it’s something people I know find it hard to believe. They aren’t ready to comprehend why someone would opt for pole dancing, if not to perform it professionally or create content around it online.

Well, that’s a myth. For me, pole dancing is about fitness, not sensuality. It’s a form of exercise and not an avenue to seek validation from others.

There are many misconceptions people have about pole dancing, and in this post, I’m debunking some. Read on, and if this article changed your perspective on this form of fitness, please share your insights in the comments.

Myth 1: Pole dancers are strippers

Some strippers are pole dancers. Some pole dancers are professional strippers. But this is in no way a generalization.

Most types of poles require you to wear fewer clothes for the grip to be strong. Wearing fewer clothes to perform better on the pole doesn’t make a person a stripper.

When I signed up for my first pole dance class, the instructor messaged me and told me to wear shorts. I was conscious of my body, and I wore a T-shirt and gym shorts.

Only when I entered the pole studio, I understood why she’d made this specific request. All the poles in the studio were made of chrome. If you wear clothes, it’s impossible to hang from the poles. To climb and stay put, you need friction. And that comes from the skin-on-metal contact.

Now that I have eight months of experience in pole dancing and have visited three pole dance studios so far, I understand that dance poles are usually made of three materials:

  • Chrome: They are shining silver, spin at a moderate speed, and are extremely slippery. If your knees, ankles, thighs, and armpits aren’t bare, you stand no chance of being able to climb.
  • Brass: They are golden in color and spin super fast. The level of grip is the same as the chrome poles. You need your arms and legs bare to hook your limbs and climb up.
  • Silicone-coated poles: These are made of either brass or chrome and coated with silicone. This makes them sticky, and are the only kinds of poles you can climb while wearing clothes. They can be of various colors depending on the type of silicone coating used.

Myth 2: Pole dancing requires insane core strength

Yes, pole dancing requires killer core strength. It also requires strength in your arms, shoulders, back, chest, and legs. In effect, pole dancing is a full-body workout.

After my first pole class, I came home feeling like I couldn't lift my arms beyond shoulder level. On the drive back home, I was so tired, that blowing the horn on my car felt painful.

It took me three full days to feel myself again. But that was when I understood my upper body strength was next to zero. Soon, as I became more and more obsessed with pole dancing and wanted to get better at it, I started strength training at the gym as well.

In January 2023, my weight was 62 kg. Eight months later, my weight is 67 kg, and trust me, I look leaner. The extra weight is all from the muscles I built thanks to so much time spent at the pole studio.

January 2023 vs. now: Well, not that much of a visible difference, but you can see I definitely haven’t gotten “fatter” since then to justify the 5 kg weight gain.

Some side-benefits I’ve observed due to the pole dance-induced extra strength:

  • I can go on longer hikes without feeling tired.
  • I can lift and carry my 30 kg Labrador Retriever with ease (earlier, I used to struggle to lift her for even a few seconds).
  • I can carry heavy backpacks for longer durations without complaining.
  • I can climb stairs or walk on uphill slopes without feeling out of breath.

Pole dancing is an intense fitness form and it requires all-round strength.

Myth 3: Pole dancers need to be thin

People of all body shapes can be pole dancers. They need determination and consistency, and being thin is not a requirement.

I’m 5 feet 3 inches tall and weigh 67 kg. Needless to say, I’m not skinny by any measure.

When one of my friends heard I’d started pole dancing, she told me, “But don’t pole dancers need to be skinny??

Well no, they don’t.

Pole dancing is intense and not intuitive at all. It demands you to bend your body in shapes you wouldn’t think are normally possible. It demands dedication, consistency, sweat, and tears.

It requires you to be a lot of things to be a pole dancer. Thin is not one of them.

Myth 4: Pole dancers need to wear stilettoes and lacey lingerie

Again, this is a personal choice. I know pole dancers from different parts of the world who wear high heels and sexy lingerie. I know others who wear gym clothes and rock their moves on the pole.

What you wear while dancing on the pole matters less than how you approach it. If you feel confident and sexy in your body, you can nail the moves and improve your strength and flexibility.

All my life, I’ve looked in the mirror and got used to spotting flaws. But pole dancing helped me change that perspective. Now, when I see my pole dance videos, I appreciate my body for being so strong and flexible. I’m so focused on admiring the strength and flow of the moves, that I’ve forgotten to notice flaws in my body.

In a weird way, pole dancing has made me feel confident in my own skin. And that has been reflected in the way I dress up for pole classes.

As I mentioned before, I turned up for my first pole class wearing a gym vest and shorts. But over time, the pole has helped me gain so much confidence in my body, that I feel comfortable wearing lingerie.

And yes, sometimes it’s indeed lacy.

First class vs. 60th class: Graduation from wearing gym clothes to lingerie.

Most don’t understand the nuances of pole dancing

Pole dancing is an often misunderstood art form that’s associated with bars and strip clubs, and hence has a lot of stigma associated with it. When I started pole dancing, I was apprehensive about sharing it with my family. But luckily, they’ve been appreciative and super supportive of my journey.

In my country India, where covering up your body is still seen as a virtue, especially for a woman, practicing such an art form and being public about it will undoubtedly draw a lot of flak.

My pole instructor, Pound Kakar is a successful entrepreneur and has started the first pole dance studio in Hyderabad. She’s a TEDx speaker and has multiple accolades to her name. Even then, some people still comment on her pole dance videos saying rude things like, “You’re doing it for attention,” or “If you really wanted to focus on the strength aspect of pole dancing, you wouldn’t have worn such short clothes.”

This goes on to show that no matter how hard people work to create awareness around this art form, some people will always be stuck in their stone-age mindset.

That said, the misconceptions around this art form are slowly being blown to pieces by smart, enterprising women like my pole instructor, and other instructors all over the country. In my eight months of pole dancing experience, I’ve seen the number of students increase every month.

If this isn’t an indicator of how Indian women are embracing pole fitness with open arms, I don’t know what is.

Read more about my pole fitness journey here:

Rediscovering My Love For Pole Dancing After An Accident
Your fitness journey can get unexpectedly derailed, but you can always find your way back.
I Started Pole Dancing at 30
5 months later, here’s how waltzing on a pole has changed my life