Review: Pole Dancing Classes At The Union

‘I no longer idolise bleach blonde hair’ but ‘the sweaty glow and self-assurance that comes with having done a bloody good work out.’

barbie kate hudson kate moss Lindsay Lohan Paris Hilton pole dancing The Spice Girls The Union

Yes I have been called Barbie in the past, and I am someone who has truly earned the accolade of “all the gear and no idea”, when it comes to sport.   So, I was ecstatic when the Union offered “Pole Fitness” classes; finally the University seemed to be recognising a sport for which I could potentially earn a Blue!   I was expecting to gyrate around giant phalli’ and to feel sexy, invigorated and feminine.  I left bruised, exhausted, sweaty and, because of the latter, feeling slightly masculine.  

Upon arrival we were asked if this was our first time on a pole.  Actually no, I’m no virgin.  What self-respecting female hasn’t grinded against a pole in a club for the titillation of others?   I’ve earned the compliment: “Darling, I don’t even like fanny and I wanted you up there”, of which I’m really quite proud.  I already fulfilled every one of the stereotypical criteria to be a pole dancer: blonde (although unfortunately natural), big boobs (30FF), and usually scantily clad.   I was expecting to be teacher’s pet…

But, pole fitness wasn’t exactly what it said on the tin.  It was a fitness class and there were poles – a grand total of two in a class of twenty-two, (of which three were no shows).   However, the Union aren’t responsible for false advertising.  We heard pole and the fitness part of the deal became irrelevant; our imaginations ran away with us and suddenly we were moonlighting in Talk of the Town (Cambridge’s strip club) to pay off our student debt.  As one girl said to me, “I only came here to dance on a pole, not to do exercise!”   Maybe we can blame the press for hyping up the “sex” bit, but personally I think we would have done it ourselves anyway.   Anyone of my friends who learnt I was venturing to Pole Fitness seemed to form a new opinion of me: girls were either amused or disgusted, and all the boys seemed impressed.  

So initially there was shock at the fact we were expected to sweat.  In fact, it’s worse than that, we were forced to do circuit training with two pole dancing moves thrown in – a fireman jump and a fireman spin. This was not what I had bargained for… in fact, it was better.  We did press-ups, sit ups, finger flexes (more painful than they sound), and tricep dips.  These were cleverly integrated with distractions: balls (what lady doesn’t love em’), pumping music, seductive ‘snake moves’ and hair flicks.   I was tricked into exercising!  It was brilliant.  

Three days on and my muscles still ache, particularly my shoulders and pecks (yes boys, girls have them too).  Even if the classes had been mixed, there would have been no risk of anyone getting a boner.  The whole male- female segregation thing isn’t about the pole. It’s embarrassing to try and do any press-ups at my level of fitness, let alone four-ish minutes’ worth. Hence I don’t want to be ridiculed by a man whilst trying!  (Who knew the great sexism debate could be quashed so easily?)

I can see why this form of exercise is so popular and I’m not surprised that the next class has already sold out despite competing with Caesarean Sunday (although I’m loyally sticking with my Drinking Society girls).  It’s just great fun.  A quick visit to my friend Google reveals that all of the following celebrities have integrated the pole into their exercise regime at some point: The Spice Girls, Kate Moss, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Kate Hudson.  Ok, so maybe a few of these celebs have been known to get themselves into the public eye for a scandal (yes we all saw Gerri’s boobs on the Brits, and have been subjected to “One Night in Paris”), so they may not make the best advocates for a case that pole dancing isn’t just about arousal.  Although, don’t get me wrong, there was some burlesque left in the class.  When I finally cracked the snake (bum first, then knees), I couldn’t wait to demonstrate it to my expectant boyfriend, and we learnt some lap-dance moves too – an erotic kick with your toes pointed and bum lifted.   But it really is also about exercise…  

Our instructor could hold herself upside down on a pole using just her legs (incredible).  Of course she also had an amazing bod; she was more toned than most of the Boaties in my College.  Even more impressive than that though was what she could do with it.   I wanted to be her, not do her.  So now, I no longer idolise bleach blonde hair, false eyelashes, Fake Bake and acrylic nails. I want the sweaty glow and self-assurance that comes with having done a bloody good work out and enjoyed every minute of the pain.

Pole fitness is sexy and the women who do it are attractive. Not because it’s a knock-off of what women do in clubs for money, but because it gives women strength, confidence and endorphins (it is exercise after all).  Oh and no, I did not for one minute think of the impending doom of the exams.  Pole Fitness worked on that level too.  But let’s be honest, it wasn’t really ever about that.