I’ve spent the last few months working out at Pole Dance Cape Town, a pole dancing studio in the heart of the city. I saw the studio a dozen times when it first opened up and always viewed it with the intrigue of ‘I want to do this one day’ but I never actually did … and then one day I just signed up and the studio has since become a comfort zone away from home!
There have always been many misconceptions about pole dancing – ‘it’s stripping’, ‘it’s disrespectful’, ‘it’s inappropriate’, and etcetera – and I’ve received quite a few stares when telling people I pole dance. But with the hype around pole dancing for fitness, this prejudice is slowly beginning to fade and people see it for what it really is – a wonderfully unique acrobatic dance form! It’s a great workout, incorporating cardio, strength, flexibility, and co-ordination, and you get to learn fantastic acrobatic skills and have a world of fun while doing it. And what girl wouldn’t want that? And, besides, it still has that secret allure that makes pole dancing extra mysterious, as if everyone who pole dances belongs to some exclusive society that others are desperate to join but never do.
Getting used to the mechanics of pole dancing took a while when I first started (and I still learn every day) and at the beginning some things were really hard. I kept on slipping off the pole, my fingers hurt from gripping, and I discovered muscles in my hands and wrists I didn’t know I had! But as time went by and I learned more and more, everything got easier – I learned to avoid the thicker poles (they come in different sizes) as I have small hands and can’t grip it properly, I fell in love with the silver poles (which, in contrast to the colour-coated poles, are more slippery, which is great for spins but less so for hanging on for dear life), learned the magic of window cleaner to provide extra-stickiness (which I probably need because I refuse to move from my beloved silver pole even when I’m hanging upside down), and discovered a magical little bottle of lotion called Dry Hands, which is sure to turn your hands into the Namib Desert and make slippery slopes an issue of the past.
Starting off with basic moves and spins like fairy walks, body waves, the fireman, and the ski lift (just to name a few), one quickly progresses to standing and sitting on the pole (well, let’s say that quickly is relative to prior muscle training and knowledge of acrobatic skills), and then to the awesome inverse (which forces you to discover muscles in your legs you didn’t know you had – and emphasises the importance of a non-slippery pole). From then on pole dancing becomes a long journey of hanging upside down, sticking out to the side, being up in a headstand, and doing a multitude of moves that make you look like a silvery goddess floating through air. I probably still look like a frumpy bear hanging on a stick, but I have hopes…
Nonetheless, it didn’t take me long to discover the awesomeness of pole dancing and, especially, the Pole Dance Cape Town studio. I love the fact that I can move to music and learn acrobatic skills at the same time, exercise in a room with pink walls and pink cups by the water filter, and be comfortable in a women-only environment (though the studio does offer men’s classes as well). And, I’m almost tempted to mention the pink walls and pink cups again as they make the classes so much cooler.
The instructors at the studio are all fantastic and while I’ve had the opportunity to train with quite a few, I’ve had most of my classes thus far with the wonderful Alice Fischetti, who always ensures that classes are both productive and humorous, adding that pinch of laughter to create a special kind of magic. And fitness classes that involve both actual training and training those stomach muscles through laughing are pretty epic in my book!
It is with a heavy heart that I had to say goodbye to Alice after my last class as I have some travels awaiting me and I won’t be around for a while, but I’m already looking forward to the day I walk back into the pretty in pink studio, ready for some pole dance action once again!
In the meantime I’d encourage everyone in Cape Town to go to the studio for me and indulge in some fun! Visit Pole Dance Cape Town’s website or on Facebook, or check out pole dancing in South Africa on Twitter under @XPoleSA!