Step up to the pole: The new unbelievable fitness fad sweeping the UAE
Previously associated with strip clubs, pole dancing today is no longer an entertainment fixture for club-goers only. It is now recognized as a fitness exercise and one that is fast gaining popularity the world over – and the latest craze to hit the UAE.
A visit to a class in Dubai and you are left spellbound watching fitness enthusiasts do the spins, inversions – where one goes upside down on the pole – and other breathtaking acrobatic moves.
“Pole fitness is literally an aerial art that combines cardio and strength training. It’s a fantastic workout that gives you immense physical strength and muscle power,” says Francesca Carlson, personal trainer and group exercise instructor, at Optimal Fitness Gym.
Optimal Fitness is said to have the tallest pole studio in the Middle East with six 15-foot high vertical bars fitted inside. “We are very much working in the air,” says Francesca, adding there are over 300 moves such as boomerang, cross legs, corkscrew, etc.
She says it also helps build self-confidence. “Pole fitness exercise helps release endorphins which are natural anti-depressants. Over time, students feel proud of how their body is shaping up, boosting their self-esteem. Regular attendees also find their body gaining strength and stamina.”
Dubai resident Alisha Manton who has been taking pole fitness classes for the last six months agrees. “Its important to find the right instructor who teaches you the moves correctly. It’s a fun and thrilling workout which has helped tone my body really well.” Instructor Donelle Sweeting at Pole-a-holic, Dubai, says one does not have to be a gymnast to take up the training. “It’s all about strength, flexibility and stamina and anyone can learn it. Dance is a major focus in my classes.”
Poll fitness is gaining popularity in Abu Dhabi too. “People in all shapes and sizes can do pole fitness training. All that one needs is the willingness to do it. It is a fun activity and a great workout for the whole body,” says Chantelle Atkins, Lead Instructor, Cobra Fitness Abu Dhabi.
Given that some people consider pole dancing a risky sport, particularly as once advances and learns more daring tricks, Vladislava says: “Safety is paramount in our classes. When my girls first started doing inversions (a pole dancing technique), they also learned to spot each other correctly. As an instructor I will not allow them to spot each other unless I was 100 per cent sure that they were doing it right. Before starting classes, we bring out crash mats a few inches thick. So even if someone lands on it they will not be hurt and their head will be protected.”