Jena Clough, owner of DreamFyre Pole Fitness, believes that studying pole dance does as much for the mind and attitude as it does for the body.

[Debra Lawless | The Cape Cod Chronicle]

“I’m here to empower women,” she says. “Moms come to me—they can’t stand to look in the mirror.” Through pole dance they have “gotten physical strength and confidence back. The pole means confidence.”

Clough, 30, offers classes at Bodystrong Fitness in Orleans and private lessons in her home in Eastham.

This morning Suzanne Bryan of Eastham is just finishing her lesson in Clough’s home studio. Clough’s husband Michael installed a bamboo floor, two poles—one 12 feet and the other nine – and mirrors in the large open room to create a studio. The other end of the room is a playroom for Clough’s children Maddox, four-and-a-half, and Fiona, two-and-a-half. The children of Clough’s private students are welcome to join Maddox and Fiona during their mothers’ lessons, adding to the congeniality of the setting.

Forms of pole dance date back hundreds of years to ancient China and India, according to the website of the International Pole Dance Fitness Association. In the U.S. in the 1920s, “Hoochi Coochi” women danced with the pole holding up the tent of the traveling circus they were a part of. This morphed, in 1968, into a “gentleman’s club” erotic pole dance act. Today the sport has morphed again to become so popular that there is a movement afoot to include pole dance in the Olympics.

“It’s OK,” Clough says, summing up pole dance’s checkered history. “The pole can be whatever you want it to be.”

“I’m here to empower women. Moms come to me—they can’t stand to look in the mirror. Through pole dance they have gotten physical strength and confidence back. The pole means confidence.”

— Jena Clough

Pole dance is a form of acrobatics in which participants use just about every muscle in their body. “You’re losing weight and you’re not even knowing you’re doing it,” Clough says. A one-hour session on the pole can burn up to 400 calories and involve a cardio workout.

As her lesson winds down, Bryan asks for a few clarifications on what she has just learned, using terms like “twister grip,” “static pass” and “bunny” (a dance maneuver). After Clough quickly runs through a few moves on the pole, she assigns Bryan homework—Bryan practices on a pole in her home—because Bryan will enter her first competition sponsored by the Pole Sport Organization in Boston next month. In fact, Clough, Bryan, and four other students will participate. Competitions are held on poles that are 12 to 14 feet tall, Clough says.

“You’re losing weight and you’re not even knowing you’re doing it.”

— Jena Clough

Clough, who grew up in Eastham and graduated from Nauset Regional High School in 2006, began pole dance nine years ago when she wanted to take a dance class. “I didn’t click with ballet, I wanted hip hop,” she says. After doing a Google search, she located a pole dance class in Yarmouth. “I was hooked.” Shortly after that she bought a pole, a portable version of which retails for about $299, and got very serious with her training.

Before this, Clough had been a surfer and even taught surfing nearby at Nauset Beach. After high school, she picked up business experience working at a toy store that her father owned. During this period she married and also had her two children. So a year and a half ago, when she contemplated going into full-time business for herself, it was “scary,” she recalls.