Pole dancing isn’t usually the first thing people associate with an invigorating workout or as part of a healthy lifestyle. However, it is most definitely a viable option. It requires skills similar to those seen in gymnastics and ballet, with the option to add in some extravagant heels and hair flicks! As well as incorporating many different styles of movement to explore, making it inclusive to all sizes, abilities, and genders. So don’t stop reading, you can do this!
So, what are these health benefits?
Even at a beginner level pole dancing is a full-body workout, involving dynamic movements which often include lifting and/or holding your own bodyweight off the ground. During pole dance training you will be working to build up the strength required to complete these skills and move gracefully around the pole.
Bodyweight training is shown to be effective and efficient when it comes to building strength and endurance. It is safer on your joints and encourages you to develop full-body strength and stability. Strength-based training can help to improve bone health, increase, and maintain muscle mass, therefore, reducing the risk of sarcopenia and osteoporosis in the future. Repetition is needed to perfect a manoeuvre (So you can get that perfect picture for your socials), meaning you will be substantially stronger without even realising.
There is an increased focus on flexibility and stretching within pole dancing, even from your very first class, as solid foundations in muscle control and flexibility are needed to progress onto more challenging tricks. This reduces the risk of injury, as poor flexibility can lead to other areas of the body having to compensate and become overused. This focus on warming up/cooling down and stretching effectively also reduces muscle soreness after training.
Importantly for dancing improved flexibility also helps to eliminate awkward and inefficient movement by allowing joints to move freely through a full normal range of motion, allowing us to achieve optimum grace and flow. On the other hand, these kinds of sports generally attract those with hypermobility, which is itself a positive, as many instructors have first-hand experience or specialist knowledge/interest in this area. Therefore, they can spot, correct, and target specific muscle groups that may need further strengthening or identify areas that need more active control.
We all know that regular exercise can help reduce your risk of serious health issues such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.Therefore, what better way to keep your heart rate up and improve your cardiovascular health than pole choreography! Choreography routines usually last a whole song and include pole tricks, strutting, twirling, and twerking, all whilst changing speeds and directions, to test your balance, coordination, and spatial awareness.
This unique combination of body weight-based strengthening and cardiovascular exercise will burn those calories, helping you lose that covid weight. After mastering this in bare feet, you can add heels (usually between 6-8 inches) to further improve your balance and awareness of body position and movement. It is beneficial to improve your spatial awareness as it reduces your risk of falls, bumping into things, alongside working towards greater awareness of your limb movements reducing the risk of soft tissue injury and improving your ability to be able to feel for those flexed feet and micro-bends which affect the overall presentation of your skills.
Lastly and probably the most incredible benefit of pole dancing is the changes in body confidence, self-esteem, and overall mental health. Any exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, however, with pole dancing the transformation is incredible. I started my first class nervous about wearing less clothing and worried about not being able to do a pull-up, but after a few months, I began to see how much stronger my body was becoming. Currently, I am developing more confidence and am now proud and excited by the incredible things my body can do.
On top of these great benefits, it is important to disclose that pole dancing is hard and sometimes you can come out a bit (moderately) bruised, but it is fun, inclusive and studios provide a safe and supportive environment for you to learn. If you enjoy it and track your progress, this will motivate you to train more and experience these benefits. Although it must be stated that most of the benefits discussed are achieved across all physical activity if your anything like me, I just need something a little different to get my attention and unfortunately I prefer sparkly heels to trainers.
Holly Wilkinson – Registered Osteopath MOst