Bruised and burned: The trials and tribulations of a pole dancing class

I always thought that I’d be a great pole dancer, for no particular reason other than that I really like firefighters. Pole dancing is actually quite a versatile activity — women can train for triathlons and marathons with pole dancing, there are pole dancing competitions, working pole dancers make bank and even Koalas do it.

Last week, my brave comrade Dani and I lumbered into Tucson Pole Fitness and discovered that I actually would not make a great pole dancer. Never underestimate the strength it takes to be sexy.

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Read: An account of what it’s really like to be a stripper.

We walked into a waiting room garnered with zebra stripes and bright pink everything. It smelled like a tattoo parlor, which I would later discover is because the dancers constantly clean the poles with alcohol.

Choosing my pole was easy — Dani and I wanted to be next to each other and I wanted to be in the very far back. We were instructed to wear our shortest shorts, but when we arrived, we discovered that shortest shorts actually just meant underwear. We kept our shorts on.

We were told not to wear lotion, which confused me because I was fairly convinced that pole dancers were supposed to be slidey. Turns out, it’s just an *illusion*.

The class started off with a nice little warm up. We did some stretches and some ab workouts before ruining any chance I had locked up in my brain of dropping out of college and becoming a stripper.

After the warm up, the instructor – clad in metallic short shorts (underwear) and a black sports bra – told us to grip the pole with our hands and use our upper body to pull ourselves up off of the ground.

This is impossible.

I was nervous, so it was hard to not slip and slide around in the lake of sweat in my palms. But that was just a slight distraction from my complete lack of upper body and core strength.

The instructor laughed (no doubt at my squealing), and noted that it’s okay if your pole gets a little sweaty. Honestly, it felt like I was trying to do Bikram yoga on hardwood floor.

The second move involved us putting all of our weight on one thigh as we tried to hold ourselves up against the pole. Dani could just about get it here:

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Me? I ended up with two bruises on my right thigh and no air under my feet.

“There are three types of moves in pole,” our instructor said while we wiped our poles down with alcohol and rags. “Strength, flexibility and pain tolerance.”

We had already concretely discovered that I would not be able to conquer the strength or flexibility moves, but I have a fairly good pain tolerance, so my hopes were high.

Here’s the move: use your arms to pull yourself up with a leg on either side of the pole, and grip the pole with your thighs. Then, cross your legs. Thankfully, I have #thighs4dayz, so my skin just sort of stuck to the pole. It was so painful, but it was the only thing I was okay at so I stayed there for minutes.

As it turned out, that particular move gives you pole burn. It’s kind of like a hellish mixture of chub rub and rug burn except way, way worse. Ice helps.

We finished off using the pole to stretch before completing the class. Walking out to my car, we smelled like dirty pennies thanks to the sweat and copper poles.

It was really hard, but definitely something I’d do again. You spend an hour surrounded by supportive, strong, really good-looking women — and it’s a lot of fun. We’re going to another class this week.



Christianna is an adventurous, optimistic feminist who can hold her own in a few topics: politics, music, baking and books. At a party, you can find her consoling the hostess’s pets and sipping a gin and tonic.

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