When I showed up at Bodies by London in Port Moody on a recent Saturday morning to take a class with Polenastics, I was nervous. I am a suburban mother of two in her mid-30s. I am not as bendy or thin as I once was. But I decided that I was game to try anything once, and that included pole fitness, so I made sure to arrive on time for the beginners’ session.
I’m sure that most of us have some pre-conceived notions about pole fitness, and I was no exception. However, from the word “go” I could tell that this was much different than I expected. The participants were women of all ages and sizes. We all wore shorts and T-shirts or tank tops, and went barefoot. If you ignored the poles, it didn’t look much different from any other fitness class as we pulled out mats and sat down to stretch.
Pole fitness classes are mostly individual, with each student working on their own moves at their own pace. I was the newbie, so I got the instructor’s attention first. Within five minutes I was doing some basic spins on the pole. It seemed deceptively easy at first. However, the more I practiced the more I started to feel it in my arms, and the more often I had to pause to take a break. My arms and core were working hard – so hard, in fact, that my muscles were sore for days afterward. But that’s not all. I developed a blister on my pinkie finger, I got “pole burn” on my right wrist, and a bruise on my left thigh. Pole fitness is serious business, and the more experienced students shared their own stories of injuries with me.
In addition to attending the beginners’ class, I had the chance to sit in on an advanced class. These ladies were doing some seriously impressive moves, flipping upside down and moving effortlessly (or sometimes not-so-effortlessly) from one position to the next. Watching them, I saw serious athleticism at work. They were also very supportive towards each other, clapping when someone pulled off a great move and offering encouragement when someone was struggling. Pole fitness is not exotic dancing. It’s a fitness routine that helps participants gain strength, flexibility and confidence for themselves. And while it’s not an easy workout, it is accessible enough that in a single session you can master some new moves.
Polenastics runs classes in Port Moody and Burnaby, and they have plans to establish their own studio in New Westminster in the fall. They also offer parties and other classes for women 18 years old and up. Visit www.polenastics.ca or call 778-998-7354 for more information.