With a lot of dedication!


Images above: Courtey of the Milan Pole Dance Studio

After getting an e-mail from the Milan Pole Dance Studio in Montreal, asking me if I wanted to try a class, I decided to tempt adventure. After all, I was looking for a fun way to get in shape and this might be my ticket.

When I arrive, the sexy pole dance class is finishing. The girls are suggestively and artfully propping their bottoms against the pole. I have to admit; I’m a bit taken aback and ask myself: “Will I be doing this?”. No, I’ll be learning the basics tonight. The studio itself puts me at ease right away with its soft and flattering lighting, and the place looks like a well kept dance school except that, here ,the bars are vertical.

My loose, mid-thigh shorts and comfy kitten heels are looking shy and unassuming next to the skin-tight hot pants and the 5 plus inch heels the other girls are sporting. We start quite quaintly with stretching and warm-up exercises. Prana, the teacher, has an impressive physique she has built through 15 years of gymnastics. She moves limberly and effortlessly her taught frame on the pole. We’re 6 students tonight, and 4 of us have had 2 or more classes already.

As Prana walks us through the “tricks” (as they are called) it becomes quite clear that this is not a girly workout. My completely out of shape ass is, by the second trick, quite sorry. Trick after trick, I’m turning into a clumsy character out of a Charlie Chaplin silent movie. Imagine me trying to dutifully swing on the pole and failing miserably, cut to Prana spinning expertly. Almost all the tricks call for hoisting yourself with your arms on the pole and swinging around. My lack of upper body strength is my Achilles’ heel tonight. The other girls seem to be doing better, but are still a long way from being full-fledged pole athletes.

Although it might seem easy, (like most things that do) pole dancing is a difficult sport—yes, sport. Prana tells me that it’s going to be admitted into the Olympics. She’s been training for 5 years, and is amongst the top athletic pole dancers in the world.

One of the better students tonight went to the Summer Pole Camp, where she got to train on a Caribbean island for a whole week— and it shows! If you want to be serious about pole dancing, it will take a few classes before you develop the strength to practice the routines properly. If going to the gym leaves you bored, then training for pole dancing might be a good motivator. While talking over my disastrous night with my gym rat co-worker, Kathia, she tells me the secret is training your back and lateral muscles, to be able to do a pull up properly, then, you’ll have a head start on working the pole.
If training in heels makes you uneasy, you should know that they are not necessary. But if working out in heels gives you a kick, this is the place to wear’em (you can even buy some clear plastic ones at the studio). The barely there skin-tight shorts are, on the other hand, essential because you’ll be using the skin of your inner thighs and crotch area to help hold your weight on the pole for some of the tricks (don’t worry— you sanitize your pole before using it).

Using every inch of your skin to cling to the pole is one of the basic principles, so keep that in mind while you are trying to keep up with the instructor. Pole dancing is a lot like gymnastics, so it might take time to figure out how to move and coordinate your body to do the tricks. But if you hang on (pun intended), you’ll get a great sense of exhilaration and freedom while you spin and fling your body like the best of them.

The studio offers all kinds of classes, from the basic technique class that I took, to more advanced classes as you progress, to a cardio and stretching workouts on the pole as well as a class where you learn to strut your stuff without any pole tricks. For more information: milanpoledance.com