Daring to set foot into a pole dancing class, I knew right away I had my work cut out for me. It's difficult to explain the apprehension that comes over you in such an intimidating yet incredibly inviting environment. Thankfully, I was scheduled to take a private class at SLAP Dance Studio — sparing the female students a sorry display of my ineptitude.
As with any form of dance that calls for a good dose of elegance, pole dancing requires an acute attention to body positioning and efficiency of movement. It's not enough to simply get the job done. One must appear agile while remaining tasteful in positions that easily veer into salacious territory if not executed properly. Leading me through my class today was Jasmine Han, owner of SLAP Dance Studio, and her fun-loving group of instructors.
Taking a fighting stance behind one of the six poles in the private studio, we got right into some stretches to loosen up my perpetually cranky groin and lower back regions. Han explained that flexibility throughout the body was crucial in preventing injuries, as well as to allow more muscles to get involved for a true total body workout. After a brief safety disclaimer summed up with "don't crack your head open on my floor," Jasmine showcased her way with words by persuading me to tuck my "baggy shorts up into my underpants," which led to me exposing my freakishly pale quadriceps and creating faux hotpants.
I was also told to roll my tank top halfway up my belly to expose my midriff. It wasn't an exercise in vanity. As it turns out, the exposed flesh helps your body to grip onto the pole for those tricky holds and spins. As with pushing the limits in any true performance art, you soon realise that you have to stop trying to control everything with your hands and just allow your other limbs to take over. To go with the flow, so to speak.
We continued on to some basic moves such as walking around the pole, and a couple of full turns. And I was taught a few basic poses such as the Leg Cross hold, and how to parlay these holds into Front Hook Spins, Hollywood Spins, and Fireman Spins. After a few turns, Jasmine was suitably impressed: "Ok, wow, that's pretty good. Better than I expected. Now try it one more time without the constipated face." Nice.
Thankfully, we didn't get much into the floor work. (Dancing isn't one of my strengths.) However, the girls did allow me to try some intermediate moves such as the Chopper Spin, a Basic Inversion, and my own sloppy take on a Cross Knee Release; revealing my shaky inner thighs. It was a tough session, and although I left with a slightly bruised thigh and ego, I was given a whole new perspective on how to train some of the neglected and feeble areas of my body. Guys, it's definitely not as easy as it looks.