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Pole Fitness

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My Experience with Pole Fitness
Evelyn Reid experiencing a pole fitness dancing class.

Pole fitness was one of the more challenging workouts I've ever tried.

Photo © Rebecca Munroe
I've tried my fair share of workouts, from high-impact-joint-wrecking aerobic trend-of-the-month to hellooo-shin-splint skip roping to power yoga to Classical Stretch to my ongoing obsession with traditional Shaolin kung fu.

But apart from the kung fu -- how does one learn traditional Shaolin kung fu in Montreal? Long story -- I've dropped the vast majority. Why? If it wasn't over lack of challenge -- I love you tai chi, but girl needs a deeper crouch to feel like it's doing something -- then it was over injury due to high impact -- I would like pain-free fully functioning knees for the rest of my life, or at least until I hit, I dunno ... 35?

Then there's boredom, a surmountable blah factor if one is completely, totally and mind-numbingly fixated on results, which was my case way back when. But even when there's a will, if the mind is bored, chances are the body is bored, which means those results are going to take quite a while to materialize, if at all.

Enter pole fitness, a particularly challenging workout in that you're fighting gravity and your own body weight throughout it. And you're killing three fitness requirements with one session. As per former competitive rhythmic gymnast turned 2010 French pole fitness champion and Milan Pole Dance Studio instructor Prana Ovide-Étienne, “pole dancing is cardio and weights.” And flexibility is also worked into the workouts.

Having had a chance to try out a class at Milan Pole Dance Studio for myself, I was surprised how tough it was, especially since I like to believe that I'm very fit. The day after my session with Prana, I was a bit sore, nothing major to declare since I'm used to day-after muscle throbs, but what was interesting to me more so than the pain itself was which parts of my body were sore. It was in unusual locations. A sliver on my glutes here, a chunk of my lats there, it was as if the pole was targeting areas my other workouts didn't, or were unable, to touch.

So I chatted with three women now heavily involved with Milan Pole Fitness because what was a workout at first turned into a full-time passion for all of them. Each woman had a different reason for attempting pole fitness. But what I ultimately wanted to know was how accessible is pole dancing: can different fitness levels handle it? And most of all, can pole fitness really change your life?

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