Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pole Fitness versus Pole Dancing

There has been some talk lately about differentiating between sexy pole dance and Olympic-minded pole fitness.  I spoke by e-mail with my friend, Rita from Russia, about the varying degrees of sexy on the pole.  She said in Russia they have several styles:  Pole Fitness, Pole Sport, Pole Artistic and Pole Exotic (a cross between Pole Artistic and Erotic Pole Dance -- undressing is not allowed, heels are okay, vulgar moves are forbidden).  Insofar as the conversation between Rita and I went, I would put stripping in the "exotic" category.  I think, for this post, my break down is a little more simple, even though I can understand what she means with each of those categories.  For this post, I am talking about pole dance and pole fitness (which would be the same as pole sport to me).  I am sure the line is different for every single person, so I write here about MY opinion about the difference between pole fitness and pole dancing.  I am sure yours may be different and you are welcome to leave any comments below on where you draw the line.

I have talked about stripping and pole before, although in this post, I am not talking about stripping.  I do, however, understand that even though stripping is in pole dancing's roots, some people really do "need" to differentiate stripping from pole dancing for their own personal reasons. 

http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2011/02/stripping-vs-pole-fitness.html

http://lolorashel.blogspot.com/2012/01/stripper-versus-pole-dancer-debate.html

I feel like pole fitness competitions or showcases usually leave the six inch stilettos out.  They seem to be more tricks/contortion-based.  And I feel like pole dancing competitions should encompass the beauty of the dance, sexy or not, and may or may not include shoes (perhaps this is where the difference between pole art and pole exotic might come in).

Long ago, I weighed in on the Olympics debate by saying, I didn't care.  And I still don't care.  You can read that post HERE.  I support those who want to get pole into the Olympics, but it's not my personal cause.  However, the pole fitness cause is near and dear to the hearts of those wanting to get pole into the Olympics. 

Recently, I posted a blog from Pole Dance Italy about getting pole into the Olympics.  You can read that post HERE.  I excitedly posted it on Facebook and tagged KT Coates, a pole fitness pioneer from the UK, who is leading the charge to get pole into the Olympics.  I thought KT would be happy to have another ally on the Olympics front.  I'm confused about what exactly happened, but KT was not happy with our post.  She kept telling us how disappointed she was with our negativity.  We still don't know why she was so upset.  Most likely it was simply because Pole Dance Italy didn't cite her as the pioneer of attempting to get pole into the Olympics in their article.  However, you can't assume that someone in Italy knows that someone in the UK is passionate about a subject, even in this day and age of over-sharing on the Internet.  I was really saddened and disappointed by the exchange on Facebook.

Anyway, putting that aside, I wanted to post about the World Pole Sport Championship, scheduled to take place in London this summer.  You can check out their website HERE.

The organization description reads:

JUST days before the start of the 2012 London Olympics, the world’s finest pole sports athletes will come together to compete for the title of the first 2012 IPSF World Pole Sport Gold Medal Champion. 

Since its arrival on the mainstream fitness scene, pole fitness, as a sport, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of its athletes and has doubled in popularity annually across the world.

Far from being just about pole dancing, pole sports or ‘vertical gymnastics’, requires strength, athleticism, creativity, and grace.  And pole sports athletes across the world are ready to get their sport recognized by the greatest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games.

Hosted by the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF), it’s hoped that this year’s World Pole Sport Championship, to be held at the York Hall Leisure Centre in London on July 19th and 20th, will serve as the foundation of the future of pole sports as an Olympic competition.

There are three separate categories in which competitors can qualify for: Women’s Singles, Men’s Singles, and Doubles.  The top athletes of each category will be awarded the International Pole Sports Federation’s gold, silver, and bronze medals.   

The IPSF is an organization for promoting athletic competition in pole sports and uniting pole sports athletes around the world. Its aim is to make pole sports more prominent in the sports community and to get pole sports competitions in major global sporting events such as the World Games and the Olympics.   

In addition to the competition, they will be holding a summit:

The IPSF is holding a first ever International Pole Sports Summit at the competition where everybody is invited to share ideas on the pole sport Olympic movement and ways to improve, support, and promote it. This is a golden opportunity for athletes, international and national organizers, and pole enthusiasts to exchange information on their experiences. This will help the IPSF to govern the pole sports movement in order to achieve our shared goal of Olympic recognition for pole sports.

So I would now love to hear everyone's opinion on the difference between the various types of pole.  Which type do you prefer?

13 comments:

  1. I have been taking classes at the only studio in my city for about 6 months now. The first few months I was so busy learning the basic moves and building strength and stamina that I didn't even notice that we never danced. We still don't. I have to all my dancing, floor work, and transitions learning at home via the internet.
    As the first pole fitness studio in a town that can sometimes have rednecked views i do understand why the owner would emphasize the fitness aspect of the sport but I do wish she did classes on dancing.
    I do love the sport aspect of pole fitness as it allows up to really work out and push our bodies but I do love the spiritual side of pole dancing that you get from connecting to the music and just moving.
    What I never got about the whole Olympics debate was why is it that different then the figure skating....they have dancing and tricks in theirs....

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    1. Each studio is definitely different. Even each instructor and each class! Does the studio in general not offer "dance" or is it a tricks/fitness studio only??

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  2. I feel really strongly that ALL forms of pole have a place. I really don't like any faction looking down on another. I'm super grateful that my studio embraces about every type of pole. I don't care particularly about the Olympics but I do think that there are highly skilled athletes who perform as well on pole as those in gymnastics, so it'd nice to be recognized. I don't think it will happen any time soon, as the entire industry is highly divided.

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    1. I too support all forms of pole and dance! But I felt the need to try to define it for myself. :-)

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  3. thank Lori for this post. I think the only difference is based on what we prefer and how we approach the dance. For example I'm not really a dancer and I prefer to work on strenght and tricks on the pole instead of dancing. But I have to say that sometimes I love to feel sexy and do short choreography with high heels at the studio with all the other girls it's great.
    My doubt is, someone call it dance, someone call it gymnastics and both are pushing to make it something is not or at least changing it. Pole Gym is gymnastics, Pole Fitness is aerobic, and Pole Dance is it dance or isn't it?
    Sorry for my english I hope I had express my feeling in the right way.
    About KT Coates and Olympics, the post we wrote wasn't intended to promote any associations, I wrote it because people now think is an easy process go to the Olympics but it is not. There are so many procedures and bureaucracy. Anyway I love pole dancing in all its world.

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    1. I always love your contributions, Valentina. Thank you for everything you do for the community!!

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  4. Great post Lori! My thought on this is...if someone is passionate about pole, whether for the fitness, the dance, the sensuality or whatever, what else matters??? It's up to each individual to decide what they want out of it, and even then, some people (like me) change their minds as they progress, or even from one moment to the next. I started poling because I heard it was a great workout. I used to hate the dancing. But now, I love the dancing more than the tricks. However now that I've built up the strength, and have been able to learn more of the "big" tricks (thanks to the amazing Bel!), I have found new love for them. For me personally, the dancing part of pole has become my love, and I feel it gives me the best of both a fitness workout through cardio and strength training, plus the ability to express myself creatively. Each individual has to find what their passion for pole is within themselves, but give themselves and others the freedom to change their minds. I have been fortunate enough to attend classes at several different studios and learn from several different instructors. I've learned something from each and every one of them.

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    1. Thanks! There is no right or wrong answer for me. I think for those who feel the need to distance themselves from the "stripper" stigma, definitions might be more important. You are amazing at the dance so I am surprised to hear you say that. I think it's awesome that you embrace the whole process! Claire from the Pole Story wrote a great blog yesterday. Let me find it and post...

      http://xpoleblog.com/2012/06/15/the-pole-what-does-it-really-stand-for-anyway/

      I always like what she says. :-)

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  5. In Mexico City all the people think: The pole dance and pole fitnes are the same thing "stripping dance in a pole". Sorry but my english is so bad... Cuando Gravity Studio nació tuvo en sus manos una gran tarea, la de educar a su consumidor de que el Pole Fitness no era para desnudarse en el Table Dance. Hoy surgen estudios de Pole Dance por toda la República, pero la falta de información continua y a nivel Latinoamérica, según he visto con algunas polegas de Venezuela y Colombia, la situación es la misma. Luchamos contra la corriente y en algunos casos aprovechamos el morbo de la gente para atraer adeptos al Pole, sea cual sea su variante.

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    1. No I understood where you were going with it. I believe that there are many forms of pole dance and we should celebrate everyone's love of the art! :-)

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  6. I definitely think there's a difference! Where you get the exotic pole dancers, who no offence, tend to do it for a male's benefit, the pole fitness side of things actually requires a great deal of strength and determination. I personally go to pole fitness classes and have done so for almost a year, and the change in my strength has been phenomenal! I love it, and it's taken me this long to learn to what I have. I wouldn't imagine it would take quite as much to learn the exotic side, as it's a completely different activity if you ask me, just involving the same equipment.

    Apologies for my quite opinionated comment, I just don't see how it's possible to group them in the same category. Whenever people discover I do pole fitness instantly they assume it's for an erotic purpose, and I have to correct them by emphasizing the 'fitness' part!

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    1. I do agree there's a difference and understand the need for some to distance themselves from stripping. But I also believe that pole dancing, whether its done to make money or empower ones-self, is hard! And more power to all the girls and boys who can rock the pole! :-) Don't apologize! I like hearing everyone's opinion. (We could also get into the argument that lap dancing is different than pole dancing in the strip clubs, etc....this argument could go on for days and days and days.)

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  7. At the end of the day, I just consider it as another form of art. Be it the art of dance, art of movement, or art of sensuality. As a hip hop dancer, I think Pole Dancing is just like any other kind of dance, categorized into different styles. If hip hop has popping, locking, and breaking under its umbrella, then pole dance has exotic, artistic, dramatic, and fitness under it.

    Great post, by the way!

    -Sassy
    http://strictlysassy.com

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