5 Myths About Pole Dancing, Debunked

I’ll be honest: I used to scoff at the idea of pole dancing as a workout. It wasn’t that I disrespected those who did it; I just couldn’t bring myself to do something that I largely associated with bachelorette parties and strip clubs. But a few years ago, while enjoying a few glasses of wine with an old friend, she revealed to me her secret to staying in shape: pole dancing. She claimed it was difficult at first but she was soon hooked. Besides realizing how toned her arms and abs were becoming, she also said it was a whole lot of fun.

I decided to do some research on the topic and uncovered some interesting facts. Pole dancing dates back to the 12th century in India and was originally practiced by mostly men, not women. It migrated over to the U.S. when exotic dancers from Egypt would perform as part of the traveling circus. The sexual aspect of it was introduced when dancers would try to entice viewers to come see their shows by dancing erotically. It actually wasn’t until the 1980s that pole dancing became synonymous with bars and strip clubs.

In the present day, it’s considered an amazing workout and even an official sport. But despite how much it’s evolved, pole dancing still maintains a reputation that doesn’t always appeal to the larger audience — mostly because of some major misconceptions about the workout. Keep reading as we debunk 5 major myths about pole dancing that may convince you to give it a try. 

1. It’s Not a “Real” Workout

Let’s get this one over with. Pole dancing is not just for bachelorette parties and GNOs. Once you try it, you’ll soon realize how challenging of a workout it really is. It requires strength, stamina and agility; it can quickly transform your body as it simultaneously works several muscle groups and is a form of cardio. It may be unique and different from your typical classes, but you’ll work just as hard. 

2. It’s Always Sexual

Another myth. Like I mentioned earlier, pole dancing wasn’t originally about sex whatsoever. It involves acrobatic tricks and movements utilizing a pole, but doesn’t require stripping or erotic movements. In fact, there are several different types of pole dancing classes that you can take to suit your needs. Want something more athletic? Search for a fitness-focused pole dancing class. Looking for a workout that involves dance? Studios often offer classes that do a mix of both. Looking for something that can help you embrace your sexuality? There’s that, too!

3. You Need Dance Experience

Pole dancing really doesn’t have much to do with dance; it is more of an acrobatic workout. While some classes may incorporate aspects of dance, there are plenty that do not, if that’s not really your type of thing. Regardless of what kind of class you try, you don’t need to be a good dancer to start. That’s what class is for — to learn, practice and become better at it each time.

4. And Flexibility

There are certain moves and tricks that benefit from having flexibility, but it is certainly not a requirement. The more you practice, the more flexible you’ll become naturally. Just remember to stretch after every class, so you can ease muscle tension and prevent soreness.

5. You Should Treat It Like Every Other Workout

Pole dancing should definitely be considered just as much of a workout as cycling or barre, but you actually shouldn’t treat it like one. It is not recommended to wear baggy clothing or long leggings to this class because you’ll want your knees, calves and ankles to be able to hold tension with the pole. You’re going to want to opt for shorts and a tank top for this one. You also won’t be needing any sneakers or barre socks, as you’ll most likely be barefoot most of the time. Want to know how else you can be prepared for class? Read this guide before you go.

Stephanie Limiti is a born and raised New Yorker living out her dreams of palm trees and sunshine in Los Angeles. When she's not zenned out in yoga class, she's reading biographies and volunteering at dog rescue shelter. Follow her on Instagram.