What is it about pole dancing that gets so many folks in a tizzy? While the striptease tends to accompany the pole in American culture, it would be ignorant to say stripping is the only form of pole dancing.
“Physically, pole fitness has countless benefits for the upper and lower body and, hands down, provides one of the most sensational workouts for the trunk and core of the body,” said Jen Kees, master pole fitness trainer and owner of Kees Camp Fitness Studio. “Not only was I intrigued by the whole sexy side of this unique form of fitness, but the athleticism that backs it up was unlike any other form of fitness I had experienced in my — at the time — 12-year fitness career as a personal trainer, body building competitor, former dance champion and group fitness instructor.”
Pole dancing has been around for longer than you may think. It was during the Great Depression that pole dancing was introduced to general society in the form of circus entertainers and traveling fairs. Women would perform “hoochie coochie”-type dances on the circus tent’s poles. The word “hoochi coochie” originates from the hip movement performed by the hoochie-coochie dancers, the equivalent of today’s “bump and grind. The girls would dance suggestively on a small stage in front of cheering crowds.
Pole dancing gradually began evolving from tents to bars, as burlesque became more acceptable in the 1950s. Nothing more came of it until the 1980s when pole dancing and striptease became popular — and synonymous — in Canada and then the U.S.A.
This trend has been rapidly changing since the 1990s, when women started coming out with instructional videos on how to pole dance. With this shift in mindset, more women have begun pole dancing for sport. Thus creating pole fitness. Countless competitions and performances are held for pole fitness, in which highly talented athletes participate in choreographed displays of gymnastics and eroticism. In fact, the International Pole Dance Fitness Association has supported a proposal pushing for pole fitness to be included as a sport in the next Olympic games.
“I think one day we just might see the Olympic Committee approve pole fitness,” Kees said. “I imagine it will not be called Pole Dancing but maybe something like Vertical Bar. Many training techniques that are part of an Olympic gymnast’s regular routine are incorporated into each and every pole class to help improve an individual’s overall strength, flexibility and endurance.”
Pole fitness alone is not a striptease. A striptease is a sexually-oriented performance that takes place in exotic dance clubs and may use a pole. Conversely, pole fitness includes a multitude of tricks, climbs, spins and so forth on the pole that demand a high level of skill, strength and flexibility. It just so happens to also give a person doing the workout a killer body.
“I consider everything we do at Kees Camp a great, fun and unique exercise experience,” said Kees. “Students are encouraged at each and every class to perform their hearts out and, in doing so, they will produce the results that people are looking for in their overall health and fitness.” CV
David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
Wild Women on Wine Where: Summerset Winery When: Saturday, March 1, 7-10:30 p.m. Price: $45; reservations and payment due in advance by calling the winery at 961-3545.
Note: This event is adult-themed and is designed to entertain as well as educate women by offering a fun and non-intimidating environment to explore an element of their femininity. It’s all about empowerment, creating confidence, spending time with good friends and having fun. Guests must be 21 years old or older, and no males allowed.