Why I love my exercise pole!
Updated: Mar 18, 2020
Is pole sport what it seems?
Unfortunately, the pole has a very strong reputation as being solely used for strippers and exotic dancers. I don’t condone these practices at all, but I love the clean usage of an exercise pole.
Pole dancing is not just for strippers
There is actually a whole sport made out of pole, which is not about sensuality or anything most people think about when they hear about pole dancing. In general, we call it Pole Sport to distinguish from the more common, dark image of pole.
Having learned the clean side of belly dancing, growing up I always wondered if pole dancing was inherently bad. I looked into it some and realized that the inherent issue for me with pole dancing is that it's generally best to expose a good amount of skin. This is only because when you are clinging to a pole, skin has better grip than clothes do. Thus it is common for people on a pole to wear very little clothing.
Unfortunately, stripping is a big part of pole, but if you look at Pole Sport, which is what a lot of people in pole actually do, it's not that dirty. I will agree that most pole dancers do tend to show a lot of skin, which is unfortunate. Besides that, pole is about strength, especially strength in the arms and core. It is amazing what these people can do.
Just to demonstrate, below is a hacked up video of me freestyling on my pole in fuzzy pajamas. Hard to get less sketchy than that. (Sorry the video is choppy. I cut out half the video for time's sake and because I got a bit repetitive.) Please don't show my old Latin dance coach though; he would be disgusted at my technique.
Pole dancing is really good exercise
To truly appreciate how much strength pole takes, you have to try for yourself. If you try the moves, it takes an incredible amount of strength. I'm pretty strong for a girl, as I've done aerial silks and I can do pull ups, but I have a hard time with a lot of pole moves just because it's so intense on your arm and core strength.
Poling requires you to hold yourself up by your arms most of the time. There are also leg locks and you have to have a very strong core for pole to do most of the moves. I think that pole sport is really helpful in developing that strength. It's also fun because you can exercise with a little bit of musicality, and it can help you with your flexibility.
Even if you're not very good, you can stay on the ground and spin around or play on it. There are a lot of levels of pole.
Why I started poling
The reason why I picked up pole was because after my gymnastics and ballroom dancing days, I took up aerial silks. I love aerial silks very much, but the problem was once I moved into an apartment, I didn't have any space for my aerial silks rig, because it had a 16’ by 18’ footprint and it was 13 feet tall. Thus my eight foot tall ceiling in my apartment was not going to cut it.
I was looking into alternative options that were similar to aerial, but didn't take up as much space. I looked into pole again and thought it looked interesting. I didn't know if it would be something that I could do, since I'm not comfortable wearing as little clothes as most people who pole. So I went to a pole class in a local pole studio, and I really enjoyed it. I also wore leggings and tshirt and did just fine!
I would say that the people there were definitely not my kind of crowd, but they were very nice and inviting. I was relieved that there weren’t any strippers in the bunch. Most of them were training for general exercise. We did a lot of really good strength exercises and a lot of fun spinning on the pole. After that, I decided I was going to pursue pole (recreationally).
After months of debating, researching, and saving up money, I decided to buy a pole. I've looked at a lot of different options and a lot of different brands, and I would definitely say X-Pole is the best. I was thinking about going for a cheaper brand, but I heard nightmare stories about going for cheaper brands, because when it comes to equipment on which you are tossing yourself around, going upside down, and doing all sorts of aerobics stunts, you don't want to cheap out.
I got the number one brand: X-Pole. I'm really satisfied with it; it's a very good pole. It's very sturdy, and after over a year with it, I haven’t had any issues with it. I got the NX model black powder coated 45 mm static/spinning pole. (Unfortunately the NX model is no longer available.) The ones that are only static are a lot cheaper, but I really wanted to spin, and it was so worth the extra money!
I basically never put mine on static. Being a former aerial silks artist, I have a very tight grip, and I don't like loosening it enough to spin on a static pole. So I just leave it on spinning and I do my dancing like that.
The reason why I got a powder coated pole is because I didn't want to expose that much skin, so I made sure to get something that had really good grip. And it does! I wouldn't say that I would wear long sleeves and long pants on it, though I can do a decent amount of stuff just gripping with my hands, but it has very good grip. I still slip though, as it's very smooth, but it has a lot more grip than the steel or chrome poles. Thus I don’t think that it would be as fun if it was static, because it has such good grip, you can't slide your hand to spin as easily. What I have is perfect for my needs.
I set it up in my living room, it took me some time to figure it out, but I did it by myself, and it's been working for me really well for over a year and I absolutely love it.
I like that it doesn't take up too much space. I would probably advise giving it about a five foot radius. But I don't actually do that because I don't have an empty ten foot diameter circle in my home, but it works fine. I have a corner of a wall that comes in closely to my pole at one point. Thus I have to be careful when I'm doing tricks that I don't hit the wall at those times. I’m so excited to have more space for my pole one day.
Improve flexibility and strength
The pole is really good for improving your flexibility and strength. I use it also kind of like a ballet barre. I always wanted a ballet barre, and this one is kind of new and improved version of a ballet barre, because you can do most of the things you can do on a ballet barre with a pole, but you can also do a lot more on a pole, than a ballet barre. I'll use it for balance, stretching, fouetté turns, strengthening exercises, pull ups, climbing, and doing splits. There are a ton of great things one can do with a pole; it's fantastic. It's amazing core work if you can build up to some of the moves, because pole takes ridiculously strong arms and strong cores (like the human flag!).
I'm nowhere near proficient in those ways so I can't do a lot of the really cool moves you'll see, but I can do some cool moves, and honestly I don't think you need to be able to do a lot of crazy cool moves to use a pole. I think, even if you just hold on to it, do a pull up, and spin around, it's still a good exercise and you can find different things you can do with it.
I find the more I play on it, the more creative I become. I come up with new moves and it's a lot of fun. It's also really fun for kids; they love swinging around on it. I've heard good reviews from families with a pole.
My pole wishlist
There are so many things I want at X-Pole. What I really want now is an X-Stage Lite with an aerial silks extension. I was really excited when I saw the Silkii. I want the stage since it’s free standing, so I don't have to worry about the ceiling or that aspect of setting it up. I’d love to attach aerial silks to the top so I can do both pole and silks, which I think would be amazing. There is also a lyra extension, which would be pretty cool as well! But I haven't saved up enough money for those yet, and my little apartment doesn't have space for them anyway. I'm hoping one day, maybe when my husband and I get a house and we have enough money, that I can get more some more stuff for my pole apparatus.
If you'd like, you can watch this video. Her style is a little too modern for me, but she is swimsuit modest (which I define as covering the same amount a one piece swimsuit would), so you don't have to worry about as much skin as usual for pole sport. If you watch it, see the amazing skill, flexibility, and strength this takes . I am not saying you should take up pole sport, but I think it would be a fun hobby if you are somewhat artistic and like to challenge your body. Guys are pretty good at it too!
I want you to widen your perspective on pole and see that it's not what society makes it out to be. Pole is about strength, flexibility, musicality, artistry, and self-expression. Some people don't use that self-expression in ways that I like, but it's not the only way to do it. I think it's a really good sport and I wish that society didn't have the associations they have with it.
If you'd like to try out pole I'd highly recommend using X-Pole and checking them out. Check out what they have. What I’d recommend depends on what you're interested in. Feel free to contact me about any questions you have on your pole and I'd be happy to answer them.
A few tips for buying:
PX vs NS: The PX, X-pert Pro is more expensive, but it has the spinning option as well as the static, while the NS Sport doesn't spin. If you don't like spinning, definitely go for the NS.
Stage vs. regular pole: The regular pole is much cheaper, but the stage is freestanding and probably easier to set up. I would like a stage, but I can't afford it yet. There is a light version of the X-Stage, which also has more options on size and finish. I would probably pick the X-Stage Lite, but I have never tried a stage out, so I don't have much experience here. I imagine the heavier one is a bit more stable than the lighter one, but they are both safe.
Diameter: I would recommend the 45 mm diameter over the 40 mm diameter, because while the 40 mm diameter is easier to grip with your hands, it's harder to grip with your legs. Plus, 45 mm is a competitive standard, so most poles you see will be 45 mm.
Finish: From cheapest to most expensive, there is: Powder coated, Chrome, Stainless Steel, Silicone, Titanium Gold, and Brass. I have tried the first three out. Stainless steel is the standard for pole sport, but chrome is a popular option, as it has a bit more grip. Powder coat has even more grip, and I'm told that titanium gold and brass have very good grip as well, but I don't know which has more. Silicone has the most grip and is meant for pole with clothing, so you shouldn't expose much skin with this (and don't try to slip at all). If you get a static pole, I would recommend getting something with less grip, like chrome or stainless steel, so you can swing around on it better.
Height: This is specified when you look at the product. It's really nice, because now they give you recommendations based on the ceiling height. (I got it before that was an option!)