There’s only one reason for people to think that pole fitness is sexualising children, and that’s their own bias and beliefs.
What has always confused me is that pole dancing is so similar to other forms of exercise we consider acceptable. Perform with gymnastic bars or a hoop and it’s perfectly acceptable; perform on a pole and everyone is uncomfortable and loses their minds. So let’s break down the world of pole dancing into simple terms that we can all understand.
Whether you call it pole fitness or pole dancing classes is irrelevant, to those in the know it amounts to the same thing. Pole is a performance medium that combines strength, flexibility and dance elements. At a pole dancing studio there are a variety of different classes that you can choose to attend; tricks, routines, stretch, contemporary, and while yes, exotic dance is taught, it is by no means the only option.
Let’s also take into consideration that the people who run pole studios are professionals. If they're running pole fitness classes for children, it's highly unlikely they're teaching them exotic dance - it'd be a very brave studio owner who put that class on their timetable. And I'm sure we can give parents the responsibility of vetting the studio and the classes that their child will be taking and making an informed decision.
Crop tops and booty shorts are the normal attire in pole class, but these are no more revealing than bathing suits, or the two piece outfits that Olympic competitors wear when they compete. The limited amount of clothing is actually for practical reasons - clothes don’t stick to a pole, skin does. The major grip points on the pole are behind the knees, the upper thighs, the sides of the waist, the shoulders and the elbows and underarms. Even the simplest pole dancing move will become difficult and unsafe if attempted in normal clothing.
Pole dancing may have its origins in exotic dance and strip clubs, but put very simply, pole is an apparatus, just like any other. It's up to the individual to decide how they want to utilise it. And like a lot of other sports, pole dancing has evolved and continues to evolve and be shaped by those who practise it.
Pole dancing is a performance art, it's dance, it's circus, it's amazing athleticism and strength. Pole dancers have been a part of Cirque Du Soleil, the most famous and prestigious circus in the world, for many years now and it’s looking more and more likely to soon be included in the Olympic Games.
Pole dancing is empowering for women and young girls, teaching them to love their bodies more for what they can do than for what they look like. It teaches good posture and builds strength and flexibility in our bodies. It's a wonderful, encouraging, vibrant and fun community.
What it comes down to is this: Children won't associate pole fitness or dancing with exotic dancing or stripping unless the adults in their life foster that association. By no means does learning to pole dance mean that they're destined for the strip club - that's like saying that having sex is likely to lead to you becoming a star in adult films.
Just because you possess all or part of a skill set doesn't make you any more likely to engage in an area of work that doesn't appeal to you. So please, if you have children who have expressed an interest in pole dancing, take the time to learn more about it before you make any assumptions and pass them on to your child.
Talk to people in the pole community, take a class yourself and engage with the instructor, ask questions. The pole community is amazingly inclusive and welcoming, so it's time we all rose above society’s general assumption that pole dancing is some sort of gateway to becoming a stripper and make our own informed judgements.
And on a final note, if your love for your children hinges on them not becoming adult entertainers when they grow up, take a good look in the mirror. No, not all pole dancers are strippers… but so what if we were?
Fiona is a budding entrepreneur, having started her own online business Pole Threads in 2017. By day she works in a customer facing corporate role, by night she embraces her passion for pole dancing. It was this passion that led her to begin her own business in the pole dancing industry and she loves the challenges and constant learning that come with starting and growing your own business. Follow Fiona on Facebook and Instagram find out about her online business Pole Threads here.