An empowering spin on pole dancing

Whenever I feel that I’m on the brink of a school-induced breakdown, I contemplate the idea that I can always just quit university and work at Roxanne’s.

However, after taking a Level 1 Pole Dancing class at Impact Movement Studio in Kitchener, I might be forced to reconsider my options.

I’ll admit, I didn’t fully know what to expect when first entering the scene. Should I have brought my own heels? Would I be expected to wear sequins? Thankfully, the class was carried out in bare feet and sweatpants but I quickly learned that it wasn’t the attire that made pole dancing sexy.

We spent the first half of the class warming up and stretching muscles I wasn’t even aware I had and then proceeded to learn two different tricks called the fireman spin and, my personal favorite, the corkscrew. The latter was a trick where, as you spin around the pole, one leg is wrapped around it and the other is stretched out parallel to the floor.

It was a lot of hard work and I slipped a few times trying to keep my grip, making me painfully realize why pole dancing is not highly popular amongst the male population. The classes at Impact are actually only available to women, but this is to provide an atmosphere of comfortable free expression.

And I have to say, it was rather liberating to gyrate and whip my hair around in a setting where drinks weren’t being spilled all over my clothes and where I was no body’s spectacle but my own. This, I think, is the real point of these classes.

Because while pole dancing at a club is often considered degrading, pole dancing in a studio is quite oppositely empowering.

“I tell a lot of the older ladies who come in who are mothers and have been working quite a bit, if you want to feel more like a woman again, get into a pole class,” remarked my instructor, Shauna Shrubsall. “Outside the studio, pole is such a negativity to everybody. Where I find when you walk into this class, you walk out as a different, more empowered, woman.”

This taboo form of dance has benefits that you can’t necessarily see, but also several that you can. “You don’t even realize you’re working out,” first year Wilfrid Laurier University (and pole dancing) student Laiya Carayannopoulos told The Cord, but it actually triggers muscles all over the body.

“Coming from a dancing background, taking this class has just improved my strength,” commented Shrubsall. “Doing the tricks and the lifts you are focusing on your arms and your back, which then focuses on your stomach and tightens up your glutes and your legs.”

With Valentine’s Day coming up, this may inspire the perfect sexy show for your sweetie. But unless you have access to your own personal pole at home, I wouldn’t recommend it. As an alternative, Impact also offers a chair dancing course as well as “a little bit of burlesque.”

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