Meet twerking queen and pole dancing extraordinaire Kelechi Okafor

[Miranda Larbi | Metro]

Ever gone to the club and wished that you could take over the dance floor with some jaw-dropping butt moves?

Sure, we might think we’re Nicki Minaj after our fourth shot of tequila but most of the time, we look and feel like idiots.

But if you really do want to learn to twerk like the dancehall queen you know you could be, then you need to head down to Kelechi Okafor’s studio in Peckham.

Kelechi teaches twerking and pole dancing lessons and when we tried out her twerk class, we left not only feeling ready to take on the Trini float at Carnival, but also drenched in sweat.

Gyms are really missing a trick not teaching this kind of dance which sees you working through a whole range of motions – digging down into muscles that rarely get used so intensely (here’s looking at you, glutes and hip flexes!).

These classes attract a whole roster of women of all races, ages, backgrounds. If you think you’re ‘too white’ or ‘too rigid’ to twerk, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Kelechi probably the most impressive person I’ve met in a long time.

A supreme athlete, she’s also an incredibly powerful personality – working to empower women via dance.

"My work is all about reclaiming... Reclaiming history and reclaiming self."

— Kelechi Okafor

‘My work is all about reclaiming,’ she tells

‘Reclaiming history and reclaiming self. Society dictates to us whether we deserve to love our bodies based on skin colour and body shape. we have to reject these narratives and love ourselves because of our sexiness and power.’

Because let’s not forget – pole and twerk are inexorably linked to sexiness. And unlike some instructors who try to remove that aspect from their classes, Kelechi embraces it.

‘Pole dance and twerk are ways in which women can connect or reconnect with their sensuality. There is so much power in embracing your humanity, your femininity and your sensuality,’ she explains. ‘You increase confidence because of the exploration of self and you become more physicality fit. It’s a win-win.


Pole-Dancing Senior Greta Pontarelli Is Still Wowing Onlookers at 67


Greta Pontarelli looks like she’s found the fountain of youth as she proudly shows off her washboard abs in a crop top and bikini briefs while she pole dances.

Several years ago, she was researching ways to strengthen her body and stumbled upon pole dancing

“I researched it on the internet,” she told Inside Edition. “It said you could lift weights or lift your body.”

She then got to work, and hasn’t looked back since.

“It was not easy for at first. I think the teacher thought the first class I went to, ‘She’s not going to be back,’ because I couldn’t get up the pole.”

— Greta Pontarelli

“It was not easy for at first,” she admitted. “I think the teacher thought the first class I went to, ‘She’s not going to be back,’ because I couldn’t get up the pole.”

Pontarelli works out on the pole for two hours every other day.


Pole dancing focused on fun and inclusivity

[Erin PetrowSaskatoon StarPhoenix]

Sarah Longpre has been a dancer since elementary school. It didn’t take long after that for her to realize her dream of opening a dance studio of her own.

But once she started practicing fitness pole dancing five years ago, she knew she wanted to focus on it.

“It really changed my life. It’s been something I’ve always looked forward to,” she said. “When I got to start teaching, it was just something that was amazing to share with other people and to see how it could change their lives as well.”

“It really changed my life... When I got to start teaching, it was just something that was amazing to share with other people and to see how it could change their lives as well.”

— Sarah Longpre

Though she is very aware of the stigma attached to pole dancing, she says there are so many different styles, from lyrical to strength based, that it really offers something for “everybody and for every body.”

Her studio has 10 instructors, all practising different styles. It also offers a lot more than simply pole dancing classes to its students aged 18 and older, with options for both drop in and enrolment.


Escaping Conservative Istanbul: Women Find Freedom in Pole Dancing

[Umit Bektas | U.S. News]

In Istanbul’s busy Kadikoy district, a group of women attend a pole dancing class, working out in a gym which many see as a refuge in an increasingly conservative Muslim city.

The WOW studio is one of three in Istanbul which, starting in 2013 with just eight dancers, now runs courses for more than 1,000 women.

Its popularity is part of a global fitness trend, but in a country ruled by President Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party, the pole dancing classes also help women escape social or religious constraints, instructor Ozge Uraz says.

The dancers “are seeking a secure and secluded atmosphere where they can display their female energies,” Uraz said, adding that her dance studio was a “freedom zone… decontaminated from male existence”.

Thirty-year-old social media consultant Zeynep said pole dancing made her feel free. She said its popularity was partly a reaction to changes in Turkish society.

"On one side conservatism is rising but on the other side a new generation is rising, living for herself not for others."

— Ozge Uraz

“On one side conservatism is rising but on the other side a new generation is rising, living for herself not for others,” she told Reuters.

College graduate Tugba, 27, who wears a Muslim headscarf, has told only her husband and a few close friends that she does pole dancing.

Despite its links to burlesque shows and strip clubs, Tugba says pole dancing does not contradict her religious beliefs “because no man sees me when I’m dancing, and I’m doing this only for myself”.


Pole dancing studio moves to downtown Springfield

[Elizabeth Roman | Mass Live]

It may seem like pole dancing would require a lot of upper body strength, coordination and flexibility, but the most important thing is the will to try.

“Guts are also key, will and guts,” said Holly Woods, the owner of the Academy of Aerial Arts, Pole Control Studios in Springfield.

Woods started the business in Hartford nine years ago, but decided to make the switch to Springfield this year.

The studio offers 90-minute pole dancing fitness workshops several days a week.

“I found that about 75 percent of our clientele was coming from this area, and they were willing to travel all the way to Hartford to take the classes and give it a try,” Woods said. “Here I have the space, and I feel like Springfield is an exciting place to be right now.”

With the larger space, Woods also will offer classes in other aerial arts including silks and hoops.

“Silks are also known as fabrics. The fabric may be hung as two pieces, or a single piece, folded to make a loop, to create hammock silks,” Woods explained. “Performers climb the suspended fabric and use it to wrap, suspend, fall, swing, fly and spiral their bodies into and out of various drops, spins and positions.”

The steel hoops, which resemble hula hoops, are suspended from the ceiling and performers can do aerial tricks on them like they would with the silks.

"The aerial art form is always evolving, and as popular as pole dancing for fitness has become, silks seem to be the next step."

— Holly Woods

“The aerial art form is always evolving, and as popular as pole dancing for fitness has become, silks seem to be the next step,” she said.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno stopped by the studio last month before it officially opened to meet Woods and check out the new location on Hillman Street in the city’s downtown.

“I think it’s an eclectic, innovative business, and I appreciate the fact that she is investing in the city,” he said.

Woods said over the past nine years she has worked with more than 20,000 women and some men who have tried pole dancing fitness at her studio in Hartford or at pole dancing conventions and workshops.

For those skeptical about taking a class, Woods said it’s for anyone who’s just willing to try.

“Funny enough, I have not had any adult entertainers take the class, it’s always moms, teachers, doctors, lawyers,” she said. “It’s something different, especially if you’re bored with the gym.”

Introductory classes are $19.99, and drop-in classes range between $25 to $50 depending on the class.

“We offer pole, hoops, silks, yoga, barre, cardio dance and sensual dance workshops,” she said.


Defiant care home promises more pole dancing after outcry over 'inappropriate' display

The residents “thoroughly enjoyed the performance”.

[Chris Baynes | Independent]

A care home which invited pole dancers to perform for its elderly residents has said it may host more displays, rejecting claims the entertainment was “completely inappropriate”.

Local councillors were “staggered” to learn dance school students had performed for residents at Fairmile Grange in Christchurch, Dorset.

But the home’s managers said residents and their relatives had asked for a pole-dancing company to perform after requesting “more modern-style activities”.

Students from Dorset schools Pole Crazy and Pole Dance Factory performed to classic songs from the 1950s, 60s and 70s in the grounds of the 80-bed home, which cares for the elderly and people with dementia.

Some councillors objected to the display, which included music by Abba and Frank Sinatra.

“My view is that it is completely inappropriate for a care home,” Dorset county councillor Peter Hall told the Bournemouth Echo. “It’s not really the sort of entertainment I would have thought that the residents wanted or would have encouraged.”

“We are proud to challenge stereotypes and will continually offer our residents the choice to experience appropriate, new and progressive activities.”

— Izzy Nicholls

Christchurch councillor Denise Jones said: “I’m a bit staggered about it. While I’m always delighted to see the horizons of older people widened, I’m not sure that includes pole dancing.”

The home’s operator, Encore Care Homes, said dancers wore gymnastics clothing during the “artistic display of musicality and gymnastic ability”.

It said residents could choose whether to attend and those who did “thoroughly enjoyed the performance”.

zzy Nicholls, the company’s director of operations, said: “Relatives and residents requested more modern-style activities. Residents were given several choices of activity and specifically chose for a local pole dancing company to perform.

“This performance sport combines dance and acrobatics, requiring great physical strength and endurance.

“Dementia residents and non-dementia residents all thoroughly enjoyed this artistic display of musicality and gymnastic ability – and the showcase received overwhelming positive feedback from relatives.

“We are proud to challenge stereotypes and will continually offer our residents the choice to experience appropriate, new and progressive activities.”

Pole Crazy said residents “by all accounts had a wonderful time” and said critics misunderstood performers.

In a statement on Facebook, the dance school added:  ”Sadly, as always with our sport, there are some who want to tarnish that, to diminish our strength, ability and self-worth.


'Kalyug' actress Smilie Suri's new profession is 'poles apart' from acting

[India Today]

In 2005, Smilie Suri won hearts with her innocent charm in her Mohit Suri’s Kalyug. Although she made a promising debut opposite Kunal Kemmu, the actress disappeared from the Bollywood scene.

Smilie, who is the niece of Mahesh Bhatt, is now a professional pole dancer, reports DNA. Her Instagram profile is flooded with pictures and videos of her performing the dance form.

The actress was at an all-time low and was battling health issues and depression, which made her put on a lot of weight. At this point, she was introduced to pole dancing, which helped her to pick herself up. Pole dancing helped her so much that she underwent professional training and decided to teach it herself.

"I was battling depression when I found pole dance, and it has brought me a lot of emotional stability."

— Smilie Suri

In an interview with Bombay Times last year, Smilie revealed, “I was battling depression when I found pole dance, and it has brought me a lot of emotional stability. I don’t feel the need for anyone to back me up anymore. Of course, I still have days when I cry myself to sleep, but all that it takes to wipe away my blues is one student sharing how confident and independent she feels after learning it.”


Woman loses 42 lbs by taking up pole dancing - now a body-building champion

[Jessica Rach| Daily Mail]

A woman who had never exercised in her life has dropped four dress sizes to become one of the UK’s top bodybuilders – after taking up pole dancing to lose weight.

Samantha Ellis, 37, of Wrexham, North Wales, dropped from from a size 14 dress to a trim size 8, and now weighs 8st 4lbs, having lost two-and-a-half stone.

The phone manager spent decades regularly tucking into takeaways but decided to make a change after seeing ‘frumpy’ pictures of herself on holiday in Dubai.

Samantha decided to go along to a free pole-dancing class in a bid to get in shape, and soon gained enough confidence to take up bodybuilding.

And just 12 months later Samantha won her first competition having made an incredible transformation to her body.

"I never did any exercise at all when I was younger - the word didn't exist in my vocabulary."

— Samantha Ellis

She now goes to the gym twice a day, six days a week, eats five meals a day and can bench press 55kg – the equivalent of a 14-year-old boy.

The fitness fanatic was crowned Welsh champion at the Ultimate Physiques competition and recently finished fifth in the final – less than two years after taking up the sport.

Samantha has now enlisted the help of one of Europe’s top bodybuilding coaches in a bid to enhance her rippling frame and bring further success this year.

Speaking of her journey, Samantha said: ‘I never did any exercise at all when I was younger – the word didn’t exist in my vocabulary.

‘I just ate what I want when I wanted, if I wanted pizza I’d eat pizza, if I wanted chips I’d have chips.

‘I’d have takeaways for dinners in work, I’d have a poor diet at home, I’d have chocolate whenever I wanted, I wasn’t really bothered about my diet at all,’ she added of her unhealthy lifestyle.

‘It changed in 2015 after a holiday with my girls to Dubai where I saw pictures of myself looking a bit frumpy and out of shape.

‘I had never really had a hobby so went along to these free pole dancing classes, which I loved. I never thought I’d enjoy it so much, but it was fantastic.

‘It didn’t really help me lose weight but it have me loads of confidence.

"I've learned that with motivation and determination it really is possible to achieve the body shape you want, no matter how daunting it seems at first."

— Samantha Ellis

‘I remember going to a workshop about a year later and I saw a girl there who does bodybuilding and I loved her body.

And this gave her the confidence change her lifestyle, revealing: ‘I changed my diet and started bodybuilding in June 2016 – a year later I had my own coach and won my first competition.

‘I’ve got the bug, I find it so therapeutic and it’s given me more energy.

‘I’ve learned that with motivation and determination it really is possible to achieve the body shape you want, no matter how daunting it seems at first.’

Samantha enjoyed pole dancing so much that she became a registered teacher and now hosts high-flying aerial hoop fitness classes two nights a week.

She also trains six days a week around her shifts at the EE store in the Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre, in Wrexham.

She gets up at 5am for pre-work gym sessions, before returning in the evening when her day job finishes.

She is now being mentored by Michelle Brannan, who runs the Showgirl Fitness training organisation, as she continues to build up her impressive muscle power.

She added: ‘Since I’ve taken up bodybuilding my life has been non-stop, especially in the run up to a competition.

‘It’s exceptionally hard work but I love it. It has changed my life completely.

‘I have weightlifting which is my training but I have my fun fitness which is my pole dancing and aerial stuff.


Mother, daughter in bid to shake off pole dancing stigma

[| Sushine Coast Daily]

FOUR pole dancers, including the Sunshine Coast’s own 13-year-old national junior champion, are about to help cast off the stigma around the sport on the national stage.

Tracy-Lee Lawrence, her daughter Lilly Lenord, Samantha Croon and Larisa McLoughlin will compete in the Pole Championship Series at the Arnold Sports Festival in Melbourne on March 16-18.

Ms Lawrence launched Bella Bliss Studio in Caloundra less than two years ago alongside her 7-year-old Bundaberg studio, and said she was excited to be part of the team competing in the competition for the first time.

But Lilly is no stranger to national titles, after she was crowned the 2017 junior national champion at the Grassroots Pole Dance Championships.

"The industry is promoting it more in a sporting fashion now, because the International Pole Federation is trying to get it into the Olympics."

— Tracy-Lee Lawrence

“That’s pretty much the first national (pole dancing) comp for kids,” Ms Lawrence said.

Lilly has been pole dancing since she was eight, and the pair perform mother-daughter routines at pole competitions.

“She picked it up pretty well just from being at work with us and learning what I was teaching some of the girls,” Ms Lawrence said.

While that surprises plenty of people, Ms Lawrence said most people who came into the studio could see the classes were purely for fitness and fun.

“A lot of people think children shouldn’t be on poles.”

“We still run ‘sexy’ dance classes, but that’s only for adults.”

The upcoming competition will be strict in its dress code in an attempt to shake off old stereotypes.


Smiley Suri’s journey from depression to pole dancer will surely make you smile!

[Mamta Sonar | Free Press Journal]

Actor Smiley Suri, who started her career in 2006 with ‘Kalyug’, has found a new passion – pole dance. Currently, she is promoting pole dance in India to empower women. She is also giving a new platform to girls to motivation and express herself.

Sharing with Free Press Journal about her new passion, she said, “Pole is fitness, it’s the best gift a woman can give herself. It has elements of yoga gymnastics and it helps you lift own body weight. Pole fitness and pole dancing are the best workout for women, especially older women.”

“Pole is fitness, it’s the best gift a woman can give herself. It has elements of yoga gymnastics and it helps you lift own body weight. Pole fitness and pole dancing are the best workout for women, especially older women.”

— Smiley Suri

Before immersing herself into pole dancing through, Smiley had her share of problems as, like so many other stars, she also suffered from depression. Recalling the tough days, she said, “I was going through a lot of depression, which I had no clue about after my father’s death. I put on weight due to thyroid, PCOD. I was unaware. I was dancing and doing aerial arts, but it didn’t complete me. Suddenly one day in Dubai, I was waiting for aerial class, and a pole fitness teacher walked in, and that pole class changed my life completely. I realised how beautiful and empowered I felt. I realised how feminine I can be, and how sexy I can feel. And, I felt strong. So I decided to learn the sport and went to Singapore to train and started my school, Polestar. My motto is if I can you can. And, that’s what I tell all my students.”


Pole fitness: An empowering feminist workout

[Vatsala Chhibber | Live Mint]

Students of pole fitness nearly always bring up their bruises. Evidence of pole chafing—crimson and blue orbs found on calves, underarms and palms—is generally displayed with pride, and a permissible degree of smugness. It is a badge of honour, a testimony of their endurance.

At Aarifa Bhinderwala’s pole fitness class, Pole Burnt, women in polka-dotted bodysuits and bottom-clinging boy shorts perform choreographed floor squats to warm up. The playlist is soft and soulful, drifting from Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me To The End Of Love to Coldplay’sYellow, before giving in to a bit of Bollywood nostalgia. Baadalon Mein Chhup Raha Hai Chand Kyun, an offbeat inclusion chiming perfectly with gentle “Peter Pan” swings.

These weekend sessions, held at Mumbai’s new boutique fitness studio The Space, fuel an uninhibited feminine energy that is both powerful and graceful. The mood is one of generous camaraderie. Students pair up to bolster each other through tricky inversions, cheer breakthroughs and swap sartorial inspiration.

It takes actual doing to appreciate the sheer strength required for pole workouts. On a late Saturday afternoon, I joined 10 other women at the large, minimally lit studio for my first attempt. While I ungracefully slid down my pole, the advanced student next to me casually climbed up hers—propelled entirely by arm strength—until her head brushed against the ceiling; another student perfected “The Chopper”, an inversion where your legs rest over your head in an open V. Once she had settled in this position, Bhinderwala walked over and gently turned her towards the mirror. “Look at yourself!” she exclaimed.

For many students, the payback, apart from a stronger core and increased upper-body strength, is the thrill of watching a new version of themselves. Niharika Arora, a 23-year-old architecture student, signed up for Bhinderwala’s class to shatter a restrictive self-image and a prolonged spell of inertia. “Initially, I thought it was too ‘out there’ for someone like me, and I’d just make a fool of myself. But pole fitness is like flying—it’s exhilarating. And let’s face it, everyone wants to be superwoman,” she says.

“Initially, I thought it was too ‘out there’ for someone like me, and I’d just make a fool of myself. But pole fitness is like flying—it’s exhilarating. And let’s face it, everyone wants to be superwoman.”

— Niharika Arora

Getting into the swing of things

Bhinderwala says an agile body is an asset, but not a prerequisite. As someone who mistook good metabolism for a sign of good health, I now contend with tight hamstrings and a feeble core, but, at the end of my first class, I managed to stay off-ground for several elementary-level spins. “It’s a common misconception that you have to be fit to do pole, that’s not true. You do pole to get fit,” says Bhinderwala. Essential notes to remember for your first pole class: Wear minimum fabric—this has to do with technique, not aesthetics, as skin contact is essential for a firm grip; don’t apply any cream or moisturizer before the class; and carry a hand towel to wipe your pole. Expect some lingering upper-body aches (these will lessen as you gain strength), and, depending on how enthusiastically you engage with the pole, some sores and bruises.

“I’m at a point in my life where I need something to give me confidence and make me feel better about myself,” says Pallavi Punvani, a 31-year-old MBA graduate who has moved recently from New York to Mumbai. “I was talking to my parents about taking a pole class, and they asked me what the point of it was. Where are you going to do this? I said, maybe I’ll just get a pole at home.”

Portable poles help students stay connected with the sport outside of class and are easy to install and use, even in cramped Mumbai apartments. But since no reliable local retailers exist, Bhinderwala recommends getting them from international retailers.

One of the first trainers to introduce pole in Mumbai was Shilpa Rane, who now holds weekly classes at her Dadar studio. Rane attended a pole workshop in London in 2002, and, a few years later, decided to include it in her fitness programme to entice students who felt dulled by monotonous routines. She also designed an “exotic dance workout”, with elaborate costumes (think feather boas and sharp stilettos), suggestive choreography and pillars standing in as poles—she continues to hold that class today, in addition to the more strenuous pole fitness sessions she began in 2010, when she finally had access to a private studio and stainless-steel poles.

“I teach an MBBS student who comes to the door buried in her textbook, puts it down, finishes pole class, and goes right back to her textbook. I have two students who travel from Pune every weekend for a 1-hour class and drive back.” – Aarifa Bhinderwala

For these early adaptors, pole dancing held a forbidden thrill. A colleague at Mint, a reporter who attended one of these classes, confirms a coy, discreet, giggly atmosphere. “Many of them were well-travelled, open-minded women, but they wouldn’t even tell close friends that they were coming for this class. I’d say some of that stigma still exists today,” says Rane. “I wanted to create a safe space where all kinds of women could feel sexy, with no judgement. There’s such a homogenization of beauty nowadays that we all end up looking and acting alike.”

It was Bhinderwala’s students who embraced the pole without caution and anonymity. In 2016, she had just completed her advanced training in Perth, and returned to set up a modest four-pole class at her home in Mumbai. Later that year, a video produced by the women-focused YouTube channel Blush featured a short profile of her. In black shorts and a sports bra, she performed acrobatic swings and inversions, and spoke uninhibitedly about how, despite being a Bohri Muslim woman with a sister who wears the hijab, she didn’t have to fight any domestic wars to pursue her passion for pole dance. Her mother, raising two daughters with different predilections but equal freedoms, also made a short appearance to say, “If we are going to talk about women empowerment, first let’s liberate ourselves, our families.”

The video went viral, and enquiries starting trickling in. A year later, Bhinderwala has taught more than 400 students, between the ages of 7 and 50.


​Breaking The Taboo: The Career Of A Pole Dancer


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of pole dancing? Seedy, dark strip clubs? Or maybe how did she just humiliate your best mate on his stag do like a total savage?

In an interview with LADbible, champion pole dancer Leah Rose Clarke, 29, spoke about the taboo associated with pole dancing but embraced its ‘strip club’ roots and will carry on as long as her body allows her to.

The former customer service advisor worked in a strip club herself to get a taste for the ‘authentic style’ but soon quit after not enjoying the lap dancing side of the industry and worrying about punters grabbing her.

Leah, who started pole dancing in her teens, told us about her experience with former Wales rugby captain Gareth Thomas, her time at the club and sexual harassment.

"I started pole when I was 19. The slight taboo feel that used to be associated with pole dancing made me very curious about classes."

— Leah Rose Clarke

First of all, when did you start pole dancing?

I started pole when I was 19. The slight taboo feel that used to be associated with pole dancing made me very curious about classes. I used to ride horses so found I was able to apply my strength from that to pole and was instantly hooked. The rest is history!

What about your parents? Were there any problems?

My mum didn’t bat an eyelid. I was always very adventurous as a child and she could see how much I enjoyed it so would encourage me and show her friends pictures and videos of my progress. She is now a regular face in my classes at Chrome Roses and attends several classes a week, enjoying both the physical and social aspects.

"I'm super strong! My body is the fittest it has been for years, but it also has a great social community side."

— Leah Rose Clarke

Have any really weird things ever happened?

I’ve not had any weird things but lots of surreal experiences. Pole has allowed me to perform in front of huge crowds and travel the world. Last year I even taught Wales rugby star Gareth Thomas how to pole for his TV show ‘Alfie’s Angels’. It certainly wasn’t what I thought I would be doing 10 years ago.

Do you think you’ll ever stop?

There are pole dancers in their 70s now. I’ll be poling as long as my body allows me to!

You have spoken about pole dancing coming from strip clubs – have you ever worked at a strip club?

Yes, I have, but I wasn’t too great at it. To work in a club, you need to have a lot of confidence and listening skills. I just wanted to pole dance, so it didn’t last long!

I had already been poling for fitness and fun for a number of years. I love the sexy side of pole and thought that it would be good for me to experience strip clubs and get a real taste for the authentic style.

The girls I worked with were great, quite a few were working at the clubs to pay through university, some danced because they loved it, others because the hours suited them better, but all were normal women just working a job.

I didn’t last long at all. In the club I worked at, you would do a show on stage and then you would go and chat with the guys and then give them a lap dance, that was what I didn’t really want to do. I just wanted to pole and to be honest they weren’t really interested in whether I was doing some crazy trick!


Pole fitness is how men are getting fit

Men, say "hello" to pole fitness.

[Roksolana Chubenko | GQ India]

If you’ve wondered how to lose weight and get fit, say hello to pole fitness, the new way men are keeping fit. And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. Pole fitness involves the art of pole dancing — something that isn’t just for women. Pole dancing is a physically tough and complicated sport. Yes, sport. It was officially recognized as one by Global Association of International Sport Federations (GAISF) in November 2017.

For me, personally, performing a pole dance is a complete workout. I get bored of the usual gym routine; pole dancing gives me strength and conditioning, by working with my own body weight. As a dancer, I find a lot of pleasure in learning and inventing new choreography routines using the pole. Moreover, pole dance has a high demand for flexibility, so we stretch and bend and stretch again. So if you do decide to learn to pole dance, you should know that it has benefits beyond the bedroom as well.

"Pole fitness will help you build more muscle strength and you will actually feel more confident about your body."

How to lose weight and burn calories pole dancing

Pole dance is a high-intensity, all-body workout. When you’re working on a new spin or position, you’re moving all the time. It’s a great workout. It has isometric and cardiovascular exercises combined in one. You will be surprised at how much weight you can lose in few months of regular exercises.

Pole fitness will improve your body confidence

Pole fitness will help you build more muscle strength and you will actually feel more confident about your body. Pole fitness will not just help you get a better physique but also help your posture and gait.


Pole fitness offers patrons a different twist on exercise

People are trading in their gym memberships for a pole.

[Vagney Bradley | Chron]

Twirling around on a pole or suspended in the air by colorful silks are just a few ways people are finding their fitness inspiration.

Some people are trading in their gym memberships for a pole. Pole fitness is a growing national trend and it’s not just for adult entertainment. The fitness option, which is mostly pursued by women, is finding fitness inspiration with the pole, dance, and aerial arts to get in shape and have some fun while doing it.

Rachel Tisdale is the owner of Axis Aerial Arts in the Cypress area. The wife and mother of two was put on bed rest while pregnant with her daughters, which caused her to lose a lot of her strength. She was in search of finding a fitness routine to keep her active. Now, Tisdale has been training for six years and enjoys dedicating herself to training other interested pole enthusiasts.

"I think Instagram and Facebook have aided in allowing people to see what all pole fitness can be. There is an aspect to pole fitness I think people didn't understand until people started doing all these crazy acrobatic feats on the pole."

— Rachel Tisdale

I think Instagram and Facebook have aided in allowing people to see what all pole fitness can be. There is an aspect to pole fitness I think people didn’t understand until people started doing all these crazy acrobatic feats on the pole,” Tisdale said. “I enjoy the performance side of what I do and developing the girls. They come here, and they want to work out. We have at home moms and lawyers; we have every type of human being here.”

In early 2015, Tisdale opened Axis Aerial Arts. Under the guidance of various instructors, members are able to explore cirque style fitness, acrobatics, and body balance. The vertical pole in the pole fitness classes helps participants work on their muscle strength, dance skills, and even acrobatic skills.

"I really like watching people progress, get better, and stronger. I didn't know when I got into it how good it was for your body."

— Christina Mitchell

“I love how empowering it is for women. I can do everything myself, and I don’t have to depend on a partner,” said D Tierce, and Axis Pole Fitness member. “This is a great way to get fit and upper and lower body strength and flexibility. If you like gymnastics, yoga, it’s all in one, and you get a sexy body.”

The studio also teaches classes that include the aerial cube, which is a cube suspended in the air with performers spinning and rotating, and aerial silks is taught as well, which is silk fabric that is suspended from the ceiling and allows performers to rotate and display tricks. Also, lyra hoops are taught in the studio; the performance art skill uses circles that are suspended in the air and allows performers to manipulate their body and dance. “It is a different outlet to get into fitness. I like how you are kind of competing with yourself with trying to do better,” said Amber Long, an Axis Pole Fitness member. “Once you get into it and get a feel for it, you are going to be proud of yourself and keep going. I think people are looking for something different and fun because working out is so regular and nobody wants to do the same basic (things).”

Christina Mitchell is the owner of Twisted Fit in Spring. After watching a video of popular Australian pole dancer Mitchell was inspired to pursue a career in pole fitness. The inspiration led to her opening her studio in 2011. The studio offers pole fitness, yoga, and belly dancing classes that are taught by various instructors.


All-Ireland pole-dancing champion Tanya Cheung on health and fitness

Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

[Gail Bell | The Irish News]

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Tanya Cheung, all-Ireland pole dancing champion, from Flyaway Aerial Studio, Lisburn.

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I wake up at around 9-10am every day and usually spend some time on my phone, checking out my Facebook and Instagram accounts and then looking at my emails. When I’ve done that, I’ll get up and get ready for a busy day ahead in the studio.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for…

Breakfast? For breakfast I’d normally have cereal and some fruit or yoghurt. Then, there’s always some green tea to kick-start the day.

Lunch? For lunch, I usually just eat whatever I feel like on the day. I don’t spend much time at home, so I just stick to something that’s convenient.

Evening meal? Pretty much the same as above.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

I know nutrition is important, but it’s not something I worry about. I do drink water and eat fruit and veg everyday though.

4. Best meal ever?

I really love noodles and eat them a lot.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure ?

I’ve recently taken a strong liking to eating cake – all sorts – so that is definitely my guilty pleasure.

"Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. I feel so grateful that I have my dream job – I share my passion for pole and aerial every day with women, men and children."

— Tanya Cheung

6. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

No, I haven’t and I’m usually quite relaxed about my diet, but there are times when I watch what I eat, especially coming up to competitions. I have been training a lot more and I know I need to fuel my body.

7. Do you take health supplements?

I’m not against supplements, but, at the same time, I don’t don’t really feel the need to take any.

8. How do you relax?

Music is my relaxation. Before I started pole dance and aerial, I was a piano teacher. I still love to play and I’m currently working towards my ALCM in piano performance.

9. Teetotal or tipple?


10. Stairs or lift?

It depends on the situation – I’ll usually opt for whatever way is the quickest. I don’t have a problem with stairs if I need to take them, but also I wouldn’t go the long way just to avoid the lift.


Meet the national champion pole dancer from Richmond, VA

Melvin Sanchez has worked as a dancer and gymnast for most of his life.

[ | Richmond Times]

Melvin Sanchez has worked as a dancer and gymnast for most of his life.

But about five years ago, on a break from a rehearsal with Dogtown Dance Theatre in Manchester, he found his calling when, on a lark, he jumped onto a light pole and started doing tricks.

A friend watched, stunned, and insisted he sign up for a pole dancing class.

“I went and I just fell in love with it from the very beginning,” he said.

Now 41, Sanchez won two national titles and competed in two international competitions organized by the Pole Sports and Arts World Federation, most recently last month in Lichtenstein.

In videos of his winning performance, he dances dramatically around the pole before leaping on, wrapping his arms around and spinning.

Pole sports is a relatively new field that, yes, is distinct from the pole-related performances that more typically take place in dark clubs.

“I went and I just fell in love with it from the very beginning.”

— Melvin Sanchez

Sanchez, who describes himself as a pole athlete, said it took him a little while to get over what he initially perceived as a stigma surrounding his new-found pursuit.

“People just think you’re twirling around on a pole, stripping,” he said. “That’s what everybody thinks at the very beginning.”

And when he installed a pole at the gym where he instructs gymnastic in Ashland, people wondered. “Everybody said, ‘What is this pole doing here?’”

Sanchez said he doesn’t worry about it anymore.

Pole sports combines elements of dance with gymnastics. At competitions, the athletes are judged both subjectively on the beauty of their performance and on their ability to perform required moves; for instance, the ability to hold a perfect split on the pole for two seconds.

Sanchez won his first national title in 2015 and again in 2016. At his first competition in worlds in 2016, he came in fourth.

Late last year, as he rehearsed in Ashland ahead of the 2017 world championships in Lichtenstein, he said his goal was to improve the artistic elements of his performance.


Bigger stage for pole-dancing cancer survivors and seniors

A Pole Story: Adventures In Wonderland.

[Gracia Lee | The Straits Times]

At 62, Ms Sudha Muthukrishnan is a breast cancer survivor and pole dancer.

This Saturday (Jan 13), she will be performing at Victoria Theatre with eight members of her pole-dancing team, The Rose Diamonds, which consists of seniors, cancer survivors and supporters. She is the oldest in the team.

Of the nine performers, five are breast cancer survivors and two are seniors. The remaining two are breast cancer supporters.

A Pole Story: Adventures In Wonderland will be the team’s biggest performance yet. They will be performing outside of their studio, The Brass Barre, for the first time, and are expecting more than 600 people to attend, said team instructor Tan Li Leng, 60, who is a deputy vice-president at an insurance company.

Previous performances were held inside their studio to 140 people at most, she added.

Ms Muthukrishnan, who picked up the activity seven years ago, said the coming performance will be her fifth time performing pole dancing.

"Whether you have overcome a major illness or whatever stage of life you are in, as long as you have like-minded people who are encouraging, it can be done."

— Joanna Lim

“It’s going to be a very big stage, so it’s a bit scary. But we’ll give it our best,” said the full-timer at the Singapore Cancer Society.

First-time performer Joanna Lim, 51, said she is overwhelmed to be performing in front of such a big crowd.

“But once I’m on stage I’ll have made a statement that… whether you have overcome a major illness or whatever stage of life you are in, as long as you have like-minded people who are encouraging, it can be done,” added Ms Lim, a breast cancer survivor who started pole dancing last year.

During the performance, the team will twirl around poles and dance to a Russian song, Ti Amero. Co-founder of The Brass Barre Anita Sadasivan, 29, who choreographed the routine, said it is the team’s toughest one.


Work It! Pole Fitness With Sacha Renee

Who says working out has to be drab?

[Latara Boodie | The Jamaica Gleaner]

We all know the typical ways of getting fit and in shape. You wake up, go to the gym, run for 30 minutes on a treadmill, then hit the weights. However, that routine can become very mundane and may even cause you to slack off every now and then. Who says working out has to be drab? Expert pole dancer and instructor Sacha Renee knows a thing or two about spicing up a workout as well as building confidence and sensuality.

Sacha began her twirling journey a few years ago in Kingston, when she went to a workshop held at Chai Studios in Barbican. “I was taught the fundamentals by a dance instructor, Ritani and Chai Studios co-owner, Shani Shirley. I loved it so much that I just kept going back for more classes,” said Sacha. Beyond the lessons at Chai studios, she perfected her craft by using instructional DVDs, books and Internet tutorials and videos from professional aerialists and cirque performers.

"People often associate pole dancing with strip clubs. In reality, pole dance is more like gymnastics, except that the beam is vertical instead of horizontal. A lot of professional performers actually perform to classical music."

— Sacha Renee

Pole dancing is an exercise and has been growing exponentially in popularity as a sport throughout the world. “Whenever I have the opportunity to travel outside Jamaica, I ensure that I get to as many professional-level classes as possible,” said Sacha.

Pole dance involves pulling your own body weight up in various ways. For women, getting that upper body and core strength is probably the hardest thing to learn and practice. To get stronger, one has to do a lot of pull-ups and push-ups. “When I attended my first class, it was just supposed to be a fun and sexy thing to try, but I was shocked at the level of difficulty and strength involved. I never anticipated that this was something I could do in my 30s, much less excel at,” said Sacha.


Las Vegas Adult Club Introduces World’s First Pole-Dancing Robots

[ | International Business Times]

Sapphire Las Vegas, the gentlemen’s club at 3025 Sammy Davis Jr. Drive in Las Vegas, Nevada, will be presenting a pair of robotic exotic dancers next week to coincide with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018. The electronic twins, dubbed “R2DoubleD” and “TripleCPU,” will be unveiled at the club at 8 p.m. EST on Monday (Jan. 8), reports said Friday.

“We thought this would be a great way to tie into the CES crowd,” Sapphire owner Peter Feinstein said during a phone call on Friday to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

“These robots are interesting because of the technology, and they’re a lot of fun. They really are art pieces, originally,” he added.

The twin robots were created by U.K.-based artist Giles Walker, and traveled all the way from London to make their debut on stage.

"These robots are interesting because of the technology, and they’re a lot of fun. They really are art pieces, originally."

— Peter Feinstein

Sapphire Director of Marketing Shai Cohen was said to have noticed them in a YouTube clip about a street exhibit in Australia. They are said to be the first ever and only robot adult dancers to be found anywhere in the world.

Walker is also expected to join in the unveiling on Monday. CES exhibitors can RSVP at 702-869-0003, but the robots are open to any visitors from Tuesday through Jan. 12.

The club owner expressed his eagerness for the duo’s week-long stay.

"We thought, 'Why not have some fun with it?' This is Las Vegas."

— Peter Feinstein

An introductory video to the unveiling was posted on YouTube on Jan. 2 and has already garnered over 13,000 views at the time of publishing this story. Guests are invited to take photos with the robots and also interact with them. The club claims “their motherboards bring all the boys to the yard!,” according to the Review Journal.


Aerial Silks: An awe-inspiring, versatile art form

Recently, I was invited to judge an Aerial silk championship...

[Sandip Soparrkar | The Asian Age]

At first I was hesitant to give my nod for it because I was not sure what a Latin and Ballroom like me would do as a jury for Aerial silk competition, but on insistence of my dear friend actress Smilly Suri, I agreed for the same and I am glad and thankful to Smilly for persuading me go say a yes for the same, because it was an evening that has left some wonderful memories in my heart.

Aerial Silk, also known as tissue or fabric is one of the newest, yet most awe inspiring and versatile art form. It gives a completely different adrenaline rush as you are performing all the moments in the air and against gravity. The variety of moves, drops, wraps, twists and turns are practically endless and create an ever-intriguing challenge. Earlier, this art form was only used as a performance act, but today it has gained popularity as a dance and a fitness workout. It is performed without a harness and one needs to rely on his/her own strength and skill. It helps develop strength, flexibility, stamina, neuromuscular coordination and a variety of motor skills and of course adds style and grace to ones personality like any form of dance would do.

"I chanced upon finding classes for aerial silk. I enrolled and trained for 3 months and found my new passion which is similar to what I always did. Since then, there was no looking back."

— Aditi Deshpande

The championship was organised by the affable Aditi Deshpande. This super flexible artist is the founder of Fly High Aerial Art, who is a trained gymnast and professional Mallakhamb performer. Having learnt ‘Rope’ from the age of 5 under the guidance of the respected guru, none other than her father Uday Vishwanath Deshpande while taking inspiration from her mother’s artistic background, Aditi passionately pursued her career in the field of Aerial Arts. Her thirst for learning and further improvising on her skills took her to San Francisco to further evolve as an Aerial Silk instructor.

She has been teaching ‘Rope Mallakhamb’ for over 15 years and ‘Aerial Silk’ for 4 years at Shri Samarth Vyayam Mandir, Dadar. Aditi has trained aerial enthusiasts from Germany, UK, United States of America and Mauritius.