Pole dancing should be an Olympic sport

There’s more to it than you think

With the Rio Olympics having last night come to a close, I’ve been thinking about how among all the various sports and disciplines represented at the Olympics, why isn’t Pole Fitness among them yet?

According to the IOC (International Olympic Committee), sports and disciplines featured in the Olympics should be widely practised around the world, and be competitive in nature. As someone who has competed in two pole competitions in the past two years since I began in January 2015, I can confirm that Pole Dancing can absolutely be considered a competitive sport.

While many people do join purely for fitness and fun, as with any discipline, some choose to take it further. My Pole teacher, (or Pole Momma as she likes to be known) Nicola Ghalmi, is a perfect example of this, having championed renowned competitive pole events such as Pole Factor Contemporary, Lincolnshire Professional Pole Championships, Kent Professional Pole Championships and BI Professional Championships. She has also placed in many other high profile events and continues to compete to this day, remaining the ultimate inspiration for myself and all her other students, motivating us to aim higher and push harder every day.

I would never have competed were it not for her encouragement, and sure enough the first time I did was only three months after I started. The best way to describe Pole Fitness is a blend of aerial gymnastics, dance, acrobatics and strength training. It requires so much stamina, tenacity and skill, that it baffles me that it isn’t an Olympic sport already. Pole is also, contrary to popular belief, a gender inclusive sport. Both men and women can pole dance and make it look great.

As for any pre-conceived notions people may have about the sport, first of all: people need to educate themselves. The Olympics themselves prove that public perception of certain sports and disciplines can always change. For example, Olympic Weightlifting Women’s championships didn’t exist until 1987, with it considered a strictly male dominated discipline until then. As for concerns it may be received badly, or that it may become sexualized – isn’t that still a concern we have with events like Women’s Gymnastics and Volleyball today? That is a problem with how the media decides to perceive and report on an event, not the event itself.

On top of all this, Pole dancing promotes body positivity, and really teaches you to value your body for what it can do rather than what it looks like. You’ll see all kinds of body types on the Pole dancing scene, with a broad range of sizes and shapes to look up to, each with their own strengths. Unlike gymnasts, Pole dancers don’t have to necessarily be small in stature or petite to deliver their best, they just need to train hard and really own the pole both technically and artistically. In fact, Pole is judged very similarly to gymnastics, so why can’t it join it amongst the ranks of disciplines represented at the Olympics?

Nailing a move I’d been struggling with at this year’s competition

Thankfully all hope isn’t lost. K.T. Coates, a famed competitive pole dancer, and the International Pole Sport Federation, are currently promoting a campaign to include competitive pole dance in the Olympics. Until they succeed, I’ll be crossing my fingers, toes, arms, legs – around a pole of course, for grip – dreaming of the day I can cheer my professional pole champions and idols on as they grace the international stage with their beauty, elegance and strength.

Let’s add a little more glamour to the world’s biggest athletic stage, and get pole dancing out of the gutter and into the games, to give the people who do it the recognition they deserve.