Fitness & Health

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Photo credit: UO Pole Dancing Society 

Most people who pole dance these days are everyday women and men, not strippers.

Pole fitness is increasing in popularity and becoming more sophisticated. This past April, pole fitness had its third annual Pole World Cup where more than 150 men and women from 36 different countries competed for the top prize of $32,000.

It’s all about fitness. That’s what Chantal Gray and Robin Librach of the University of Ottawa’s Pole Dancing Society want students to know—and it seems they’re getting the message.

This semester, the club had a huge increase in membership, and is now sitting at more than 70 active members. Compare that to Gray’s first year in 2011 when there were only about 30, and it’s clear the club has come a long way. Gray says she has stuck with it for the last three years because it challenged her in ways other activities couldn’t.

“I took a class, and immediately I loved it,” she says. “I’ve tried so many different types of workouts. I’ve tried yoga, I’ve tried Zumba, everything else I drop within a month. This, I’ve done for years.”

Librach, who’s in her second year at the club, first got into pole dancing when she was away on an exchange. She says there’s something unique about the U of O’s club.

“I found out there was a pole society here, and I was really happy about it,” said Librach. “I don’t know of any other university that has an active pole society, so it was great for me to be able to continue and meet other people with a similar interest.”

The society is sponsored by Ottawa Pole Fitness on Somerset Street. They hold all their classes there, and the studio also offers discounts to the club specifically.

Each semester, the club offers beginner and advanced workshops. They also organize pole jams, which are basically pole parties, and pot lucks. The club rents out the studio space for two hours, with no instructor—just do pole, and have fun.

But, studio costs aren’t cheap, so the society fundraises the majority of its expenses. They put on bake sales and sell lollipops to students at night clubs to bring in money and organize more events.

Overall, Gray says it’s the best workout she’s ever done. It was awkward at first, she says, but it’s perfectly normal for beginners to be nervous.

“If you’re going to a first-time beginner’s class, most likely everyone else there has no idea what they’re doing, and everyone is super shy,” says Gray. “No one will act like they’re the stars.”

Anyone can join the club for a one-time payment of $10.

“It’s a really supportive environment,” says Librach. “People of all shapes and sizes can come in. You don’t need to be in shape before you get started—you get fit while doing pole.”