How To Start Pole Fitness Step By Step
Are you ready to lose weight, get fit and have fun doing it?
That’s great! But perhaps you’re now feeling a little lost and nervous at the prospect of getting started with pole fitness.
So whether you aren’t sure where your nearest class is or just don’t feel ready to go for your first spin yet, I’ve covered everything here to start you off, showing you how to start pole fitness one step at a time!
What You Will Learn
- How To Find Your Closest Class Quickly & Easily
- How You Can Arrange A Taster Session
- What To Look For In A Quality Class
- What To Take To Your First Class
- 10 Ways To Speed Up Your Pole Fitness Progress
How To Find Your Nearest Class With Ease
Not sure where to go? No problem, I’ve got you covered!
The easiest way to find your nearest class is to first check on Google. If you type 'pole classes in [your town/county/country/state]' you will more than likely discover your nearest studio.
Failing that you can check out the local gyms to see if they offer pole fitness classes as many are beginning to bring it into their schedules.
If you live in the UK, I recently discovered a very handy website that lists many of the pole studios across the country.
This should help you to find one near you and if you know of any classes that are missing from the list it is very easy to submit the ones you know of.
Some classes are not so well advertised, I found my first one by word of mouth and seeing friends posting pictures on Facebook so if you're not shy you can just ask around.
If you have no luck and your nearest class is too far to travel to, you might want to consider starting pole fitness at home.
I would recommend traveling to the nearest class at least once to try it out before investing in a pole for your home though, in case of the very unlikely event that you don't enjoy it.
How To Get Your Foot In The Door
Once you've located your nearest class it's time to get in touch.
All studios and gyms have different schedules so you will need to know what time you can attend, whether you need to book and what day they have an introductory class on.
Some dedicated studios may be open all day where others are only open in the evening and gyms may only run classes on certain days.
If you managed to find a website for your nearest studio when you were searching in Google earlier they may have an online booking system you can use like the one shown here:
Classes are laid out differently wherever you go so while in some cases you may be able to book in whenever you are free for a lesson, some studios will only offer specific courses for different levels over a 6 week or so period.
That means they likely won't mix classes and will have set days on which you can attend for your level, although this isn't the case everywhere.
That’s why it’s important to get in touch and arrange your first lesson, as many places don’t allow room for drop ins.
If you didn’t find an online booking system on the website you can try contacting your chosen class through either an email address or phone number provided or their ‘Contact Us’ Page.
If you didn’t find a website you may have access to a Facebook page or group where you can ask for more information.
If you found your studio by recommendation, just ask the person who referred you for a contact to get booked in.
Try Before You Buy
Are you thinking, 'hold up just a sec, I'm still not sure if this is for me'?
Don't worry, no one will force you to take a 6 week beginners course without letting you try out a taster class first.
You will find this varies from place to place once again but usually you will be shown some basic gripping techniques and very basic spins to give you a feel for class in the introductory session.
This might be a session dedicated to new starters or if you're in a studio with a few instructors it might take place alongside another class.
Please don't feel intimidated if it is, everyone started where you are 🙂
Go easy on yourself if it's your first time. It's hard to stop once you start enjoying yourself and you just want to nail that first spin.
Just remember that your muscles won't know what hit them the next day as it is, so don't push too hard!
You Don’t Always Need To Break The Bank
Wondering how much all this costs?
Well once again, this will vary between pole studios.
It is possible to find good quality lessons that are less expensive but you should know that it is common to pay between £10 - £20 per lesson in a studio.
You will find that most places will charge more for a single lesson than if you were to buy a bundle of lessons in advance which may then be discounted.
Some studios will not allow single lessons and will only allow you to sign up for a full course over a number of weeks which means you would usually pay in full at your first class.
It can be an expensive hobby depending on your location and the studio you choose so you should factor this in when looking for the right class for you.
Of course another great way to save money in the long run is to get set up at home.
The initial cost of setup might seem like a lot but over time you will save more than attending some classes and online lessons are usually much cheaper than visiting a studio.
How To Decide Which Is The Right Class For You
If you found more than one studio in your search for local classes then here are a few things to look out for to help you choose which is for you:
As I mentioned earlier, you should pick a studio that's within your chosen budget.
Look out for an instructor who gets you familiar with all the basics first.
Not all pole fitness studios will look specifically at floor work and the sexier side of pole but they should at least start by building up your knowledge from the basic gripping techniques and the first 6 basic spins.
Make sure the studio you attend has time at the beginning of class dedicated to warming up properly to avoid muscle injuries.
Similar to warm ups, you should also make sure that your chosen studio allows a good amount of time to stretch and cool down at the end of class.
Failing to properly cool down after a pole fitness workout will leave you feeling very tense and achy the next day.
If you only found one local studio in your search don’t disregard these points. It’s important that you progress steadily with proper preparation and cool downs included in order to avoid injury.
If the only pole fitness class near you doesn’t cover these basic procedures it may be best to start up at home.
A knowledgeable and experienced online instructor can often be much better than settling for an inexperienced one in person.
Most studios will assess your skill level in your introductory class and go from there.
In case you are in any doubt about which class level you should be signing up for though, I've put together a few tips below.
These are for those who have never tried pole fitness or pole dancing before. In a beginners class you can expect to learn starting from the very basics.
Take your time in these classes and allow your body to build up the proper strength it needs to move forward.
Most people feel uncomfortable, silly or shy in their first couple of lessons, but don't worry because this is completely normal.
Once you realise everyone in the room started out exactly the same you'll soon be enjoying yourself and getting to grips with things.
If you've already attended a beginner’s class elsewhere or feel that you're already familiar with the basics you might want to try out an intermediate class.
Things will start to get more challenging here and you should be aware that no guidelines are set among studios yet as to what is really beginner or intermediate.
While some teachers will teach you some basic invert tricks at a beginner level if they feel you are ready for it, others will not let you progress further until you progress to their specific intermediate classes.
The last competition guidelines I read stated that beginners could not perform any tricks where the hips came above the head.
So while I considered myself a beginner at the time, many of the transitions and moves I was doing were clearly marked as only for use in the intermediate level of the competition.
If you've already had some form of beginner classes I would recommend asking for a skill level assessment when starting at a new studio so that they can find the right level class for you.
What To Wear To Pole Fitness Classes
Not sure what to wear or what you should take with you?
There's a whole range of pole fitness clothing you could invest in, but to start you off you'll be just fine with the following;
This is quite important for safety.
You must have your legs and arms uncovered in order for your skin to grip the pole.
I've seen a few ladies in my time who struggled with even the most basic of spins because they simply would not ditch the leggings.
There's no need to worry about what your legs look like.
Everyone will be wearing shorts and the sooner you whip out your pins the sooner you can get started on toning them and the sooner you'll have legs to die for 🙂
There are a few spins and some floor work that can be performed with the skin covered but this is very limited.
If you don't think you have any shorts suitable for pole you can take a look here to find some 🙂
What If I Don't Want To Wear Shorts?
If you are a beginner you might just get away with wearing leggings for a little while.
Please bear in mind that even the most basic of spins can benefit from grip and they will be much more taxing on your upper body if you don't.
If you want to advance any further to climbing, inverting (going upside down) etc... then yes, you will definitely have to wear shorts.
It would be very unsafe to do otherwise.
For a beginner level any top or t-shirt you feel comfortable in will be fine. Please stick to short sleeves for the same reasons I mentioned earlier.
The more skin you have exposed the easier it will be to grip the pole.
When learning certain climbs, poses and inverts you will notice the need to use your stomach or armpits to grip, a sporty tank top is great at this stage.
It can be very pretty to see your hair flowing behind you as you spin and once you’re more comfortable with things that's great.
As a beginner though, I would advise tying long hair back out of the way to avoid it getting tangled up on the pole.
For better grip with your feet and to begin learning I would recommend going barefoot.
Of course if you want to it's perfectly fine to wear heels but personally I would avoid doing so to begin with unless you are very comfortable and well balanced in them.
Please don't use any oils, creams, lotions, moisturisers or gels on your body on the days that you plan to attend a pole fitness lesson.
These will make your skin very slippery and you will probably slip or slide off of the pole, this can be extremely dangerous!
You should also be aware that even if you are willing to take this risk that doing so would cause the pole to be slippery for those who use it afterwards.
Please be considerate to other polers by refraining from this.
Another big no no is jewellery. Necklaces, rings, bracelets and the like will again be slip hazards to you and will also scratch and cause damage to the pole.
Other Things You Might Need
Some studios will require you to take a yoga mat for warm ups and cool downs but this doesn't apply everywhere and many will provide one for you.
It's also a nice idea to have a pair of leg warmers to hand. Leg warmers will help you when doing any floor work and can be useful for stretching after class.
There will likely be towels around to wipe down the poles but you should avoid using these to dry yourself, especially if you're sharing the pole.
So another great thing to have to hand is a small towel or something to dry yourself off if you're feeling slippery or sweaty.
And a bottle of water, because it's thirsty work being this awesome 😉
Can Men Join Pole Fitness Classes?
Most pole studios these days do allow men to sign up although there are a few that are strictly 'Ladies Only'.
The amount of men taking up pole fitness is growing fast with most competitions including a male category and many pole wear brands offering a selection of pole clothing for men.
Men are (rather unfairly) naturally very strong in the core and upper body making them perfect to pull off some spectacular displays of pole fitness.
The ancient arts of Chinese Pole and Indian Mallakhamb that have influences in the sport we see today have always been performed by men primarily, and this is where a lot of the acrobatics you see on the pole today originated from.
Moves such as Fonjis, flips and drops have transferred directly from these arts into pole sport, so don't worry about the pole being too feminine, there's plenty of moves to explore!
As a man you might find that there is less flexibility on lessons and days you can attend as there may be classes that are dedicated to men or specially allocated as mixed gender classes.
How To Progress Faster
You don't need to do any exercises to prepare you for pole fitness classes.
In fact, pole fitness is taught in a well structured step by step manner that will build strength and flexibility as you go along.
But that doesn't mean that you can't get yourself a little ahead of the game if you want to!
Cross training is recommended no matter what your chosen workout in order to keep fit.
Pole fitness is no different and while you don’t necessarily need to do this, many people who move into the more advanced aspects of pole regret not starting cross training earlier.
Some of the best forms of exercise to complement pole fitness if you wish to do so are;
Yoga is one of the best partners to pole fitness you could ask for. It will work on your flexibility, awareness and strength as you progress.
Many of the moves performed in a Yoga class will give you skills that are directly transferable to pole fitness, including most of the actual positions you will get yourself into.
Pole fitness is a combination of gymnastics, dance and acrobatics so if you happen to be good at gymnastics those skills will come in very handy.
Sometimes pole fitness is even referred to as aerial gymnastics or polenastics and if you have the strength to climb up the rope at gym classes you’re well on your way to climbing to the top of the pole!
Core Strength Home Workout
A home workout that focuses on your core strength will help you to progress much faster when it comes to pole fitness.
Your core strength will naturally improve with your lessons but if you want to get a head start or progress quicker for any reason then this is recommended.
It’s something I only recently started doing and while you may not need it so much in the early stages of pole fitness, you will wish you had incorporated it sooner once you start to advance to those trickier moves.
Upper Body Strength Home Workout
Much the same as I explained with the core strength workout, you will have the advantage of faster progression if you work on your upper body strength in your free time.
While this too would naturally progress through pole fitness you will notice the benefit of upper body exercises earlier on in your journey than you would for your core strength.
This is because many of the basic spins you learn will look much more graceful and controlled if you focus on your upper body strength early on.
Ok so without sounding like a broken record, this isn’t required to progress in pole fitness – but it will help a lot!
Weight training will give you quicker results if you’re looking for defined muscles and without making you look manly or bulky.
It will also give you the extra power boost you need to perform some of the more strength demanding tricks sooner than you would otherwise be able to.
If you're looking to work on shoulder and rotator cuff strength then you'll find the cuban press works wonders.
Rock climbing is a fantastic way to improve your core strength and one of the best cross training activities to compliment your pole work.
The first time I tried rock climbing I was sure it would be easier after all the strength I'd built up from pole fitness.
I couldn't have been more wrong, and I also know a few rock climbers who transferred their skills over to pole and happened to be pretty good at it almost straight away.
Aside from core strength it's also a fantastic way to work on better grip.
Swimming is a great form of exercise and for me it was always more enjoyable than heading on down to the gym.
It was something I used in an attempt to keep fit a few years before I looked to pole fitness but it still just never held my interest.
For those of you that do love swimming though, the rotations you perform with your arms from just swimming length after length are great for strengthening the shoulders which will help you avoid injury in pole fitness.
That is assuming you have the correct technique, if your technique is off then you can actually end up worse off with a condition known as swimmers shoulder.
It's also a great cardio workout and it'll give you a head start in the endurance department!
Crossfit is the ultimate buddy to pole fitness if you're looking to improve your strength training.
If you do it already then great! You will find you improve at a much faster rate.
Some of the important areas you will work with crossfit that help your pole fitness journey are;
- Improved Grip
- Core Strength
- Upper Body
- Bodyweight Exercises
Vice versa, pole fitness will also complement your abilities in crossfit. Many people who start cross fit after pole fitness find they excel in the areas above.
While crossfit can be quite taxing and requires a lot of commitment, it is one of the best things you can do to complement pole fitness aside from from rock climbing.
It is to your strength training what Yoga is for your flexibility.
If you have any experience in dance this will always be transferrable to pole fitness.
You’ll find your movement and flow will be miles ahead of anyone else learning floor work and you can incorporate your knowledge into pole no matter what the style.
From ballet to breakdancing the pole is your stage, let your creativity shine!
Don't Over Do It
While these are great ideas to fast track your pole fitness success and aid faster progression, you should be careful not to over train.
Especially early on. If you are new to any type of fitness regime it's a bad idea to start throwing too much into the equation.
You'll want to wait until your fun new fitness hobby becomes more habitual before you try to incorporate anything else.
It's also important that if you do incorporate any of these other fitness ideas you remember to give yourself a break.
You must have at least one rest day per week!
It's only during this resting period that your muscles will heal, repair and grow stronger after all of the workouts you do.
What To Do If You Couldn’t Find A Pole Fitness Class
So what about if you couldn't find lessons near you?
If you’re stumped and struggling to find a pole studio anywhere within reasonable travelling distance you could benefit from learning pole fitness at home.
Personally, I would still recommend trying to travel to a taster session if that's at all possible, just to get a feel for it.
That's because when you decide to practise pole fitness from home it requires a little more investment straight off the bat to get you started.
Now I'm sure you'll love it once you start but it would be a shame to spend a lot on a pole to find out it's not for you.
If this is a route you would like to take though, I have some solutions to that problem in my article about getting started at home!
A Quick Recap
That was a lot to take in, so I’m just going to summarise some of the key points you should take away from this post to get you started.
- Check Google & Facebook to find a class
- If you live in the UK check out the Pole Pages directory of studios
- Get in touch to organise an introductory class or taster session
- Choose a class that suits you
- Cross train for quicker results
- Wear shorts, a short sleeve top and tie long hair up
- NEVER wear oils, lotion, cream, gel or moisturiser before pole class
- Don't wear jewellery when using the pole
- Take a bottle of water
- Men are welcome in most studios
- If you can’t find a class, don’t be afraid to get started from home!
If you have any burning questions that I haven’t answered here or on my FAQ page, please feel free to ask in a comment below 🙂