A different kind of workout: pole fitness

Summer is here and the beach is beckoning – and that means baring all. If you’re looking to get in shape, but pounding treadmills and pumping weights isn’t your thing, you’re in luck. There are plenty of other ways to tone, stretch and strengthen, indoors and outdoors, on land or in the water – and have fun at the same time. Weekender is trying out a different one each week.

WHAT IT IS:

A workout based on the moves and sequences that pole dancers use. Each participant has her own pole and there’s a maximum of six participants per class.

WHERE:

Life Extension Sports & Fitness, Park Place, West Bay Road.

WHAT IT’S LIKE:

The class starts with some straightforward warm ups incorporating the pole, before placing one hand high on the pole and beginning to take tiny steps around it.

Then, with step-by-step instructions, the instructor leads the group through a variety of moves that involve lifting oneself high off the ground, hooking legs around poles and spinning back down to earth.

Starting with simple spins and lifts, you can progress to impressive inversions in a short time.

The small, cosy studio in which Mariela teaches feels like a safe space, where you are free to make mistakes, fall and pick yourself up again, and no one minds.

Once you’ve had time to practise a number of moves several times on each side, the music is turned up and you put it all together into a more flowing sequence, with body rolls, hair flicks and other transitions thrown in.

The class finishes with a few stretches to prevent aching muscles the day after.

WHO CAN DO IT:

The classes at Life Extension are women-only classes, and classes are always small. They are open to all levels and ages, and participants make quick progress, performing impressive sequences and inversions within a few months.

WHERE YOU’LL FEEL IT:

Pole fitness requires significant upper body strength to lift your body weight, and by the end of your first class, you will have a new respect for the dancers who do this for a living.

The good news is, if you don’t have the strength at first, don’t be put off – you’ll quickly develop it.

Pole Fitness will use a whole lot of muscles you didn’t even know you had, especially back and core muscles. It will also improve balance and flexibility.

Apart from sore muscles, you may well find bruises and reddened skin following a workout – the result of pushing hard against the pole to gain some traction.

OVERALL:

Pole Fitness is fun, but it’s no walk in the park. Be prepared to work hard in short bursts.

In return, you’ll find that even if you’ve never before thought of yourself as graceful, pole fitness will bring out the sexy in you – and build some serious upper body strength in a short time.

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