IN the cab on our way to trial pole class, I had beads of sweat rolling down my temples as scenes from Magic Mike flashed through my mind. Not that there was any pole action in that movie, but say ‘pole dancing’ and you immediately think ‘strippers’ and ‘sensual grinding.’ Plus, we were required to wear shorts cut above the knees. Huh?
But my nerves were quickly calmed down within minutes of chatting with the instructors at Polecats Manila in Pasig. “You’ll do upper-body and core-strength moves as opposed to dancing and transitions,” Miko Ignacio informed us. It sounded like a strength workout.
After a thorough stretching routine and doing joint rotations all over, it was time to start. Even the most basic moves were challenging. First, we did the ‘Chinese climb’: shimmying up the pole by alternately changing grips and stepping on it. I certainly felt my midsection fire up and my arms struggle—and at that point, I was only halfway up my pole while the other MH team members were much higher on theirs. “Hindi naman kailangan mataas agad,” Miko reassured me. While it was encouraging, the next moves made me realize the things I needed to work on at the gym.
For example, the ‘Spider-Man’ requires you to pull yourself up by gripping the bar, one hand on top of the other, then staying still as you anchor your feet on the pole. I would need to improve my pulling strength and to strengthen my core if I were to maintain my balance in this position longer.
I was sweating buckets as I tried, despite my frustration, to execute each exercise. But even though I lacked the muscular endurance, strength, and flexibility to do all the basic moves, instructor Duds Ignacio said my experience is normal. “It’s okay if you didn’t get the moves the first time. We’re working on muscle memory here.” If you keep an open mind, a pole class can stoke your competitive fire as you try to get the moves down pat, while testing how strong you really are. It won’t channel your inner stripper (keep it in the bedroom where it matters), but it will unleash the acrobat in you.
The Pole Truth
Separate myth from fact before you attend your first class
Myth: Putting on lotion can help you do well.
Truth: Being slippery won’t do you good. “It will take off the friction you need to stay on the pole,” says Duds Ignacio, a pole fitness instructor at Polecats Manila.
Myth: You need to be flexible.
Truth: Regular sessions will help develop flexibility. According to Miko Ignacio, another pole fitness instructor at Polecats Manila, the more classes you attend, the more your more your muscles will get accustomed to the movements.
Myth: Doing pole has minimal physical benefits.
Truth: Aside from a strong core and upper body (both of which can be developed if you regularly attend classes), you also need cardio in order to keep climbing up and down the pole, says Duds Ignacio.