Variations of pole dancing and pole fitness have been around for thousands of years. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that pole dancing became a part of the strip club scene, yet that is the image that comes to many minds when they hear “pole dancing”. Just as ballet and other dance forms that are now viewed as art were originally frowned upon because they highlighted the female form, pole dancing is beginning to shed it’s questionable reputation and is becoming more and more mainstream. The general public is beginning to see the art and athleticism involved in real pole dancing. A quest has even begun to make pole dancing an official Olympic sport. For a true look at the origins of pole, keep reading.
Over two thousand years ago in India, men participated in a sport called Mallakhamb (“pole gymnastics”). The pole was wooden, wider than today’s modern pole and had a large wooden ball at the top. This sport was used to help them build stamina, strength, coordination, reflexes and endurance. Although the sport lost popularity for a while, it was revived in the early nineteenth century and currently there are national Mallakhamb championships in which men from around India compete. To see an example of the incredible strength and agility of these competitors, watch this video:
Another historical form of pole dancing is the Chinese pole, in which men used two twenty foot poles coated in rubber and leapt from one to another defying gravity. The moves on these poles are less fluid than modern pole performances, but they require incredible strength and skill. Chinese Pole dates back to at least the 12th century, but today’s popular Cirque du Soleil shows incorporate Chinese pole acts into their performances and Chinese Pole remains a popular sport today. You can see an example of this below:
Fast forwarding to the 1920’s, pole dancing began to evolve into more of an exotic-dance when traveling fairs and circuses during the great depression would entertain the townspeople. Women would use the pole in the middle of the tent and dance suggestively for crowds of men. These girls were known as the Hoochi Coochi dancers which referred to their hip movements. Pole dancing eventually moved into a more erotic realm in the 1980’s when it made its way into bars and combined with strip tease in Canada, then moved into the United States.
At the age of 19, Fawnia Dietrich (formerly Fawnia Mondey) saw the art and strength involved in pole dancing and decided to become the world’s first pole dance instructor, opening her studio in December 1994. And in 2006, many people began referring to the more athletic form of pole dancing as pole fitness in an attempt to separate it from it’s tarnished past. Some people still prefer to refer to it as pole dancing in order to keep the artistic, “dancing” side of the sport alive.
Today’s pole dancing (or pole fitness) is an artistic, athletic and theatrical endeavor which combines dance, gymnastics, and acrobatics. While the beginner moves can be performed by just about anyone, the more advanced moves require strength, flexibility and endurance. Fortunately each level of moves can build the foundation of strength, flexibility and endurance needed to move up to the next level.
Pole dancing has become an Increasingly popular form of fitness and dance and is now a recognized form of exercise. Pole dancing can be aerobic as well as anaerobic, and it is a more natural form of exercise than most as it uses one’s own body weight instead of artificial weights and it can incorporate moves that develop the entire body. All using one simple piece of apparatus. Even so, pole dancing can actually be a more strenuous workout than many other sports. Even men are beginning to catch on to the workout benefits of a pole and have begun competing! Check out this video:
One unique aspect of pole dancing is that it can be tailored for individual preferences. It can be purely athletic, it can incorporate the art of ballet, or it can incorporate more sensuality. It can be used for strength training, flexibility training, cardio and endurance training or a combination of all three.
And one of the best things about pole dancing is that with just a pole and Pole2Go’s instructional videos it can be learned at home, making it accessible to those who are shy, those who don’t live near a studio, and those who have financial concerns!