If you think pole dancing is just for women, think again. Historically, pole dancing has been linked to women performing in strip clubs. But today, it’s a credible form of exercise that both men and women enjoy. Just like yoga or ballet class, pole fitness has hit the mainstream. Tantra Fitness, a pole dance and fitness studio in Vancouver, BC, had a shaky start ten years ago when it first opened. “It was a very hostile environment,” says Tammy Morris, the company’s founder. “No one wanted to take ‘stripper’ classes.
But now, every person that tries it says the same thing: ‘Wow, what a fabulous workout!’” Tammy has worked hard to educate people and convince them to give it a try. She says that once they take a class they tell others how great it is.
Though Tantra Fitness is 97 percent female and the whole studio is painted pink, that doesn’t stop men from coming in to take a pole fitness class. Five men come regularly, and workshops can see up to 15 men—usually friends or partners of women who are also attending. (The next workshop will be held in May, if you’re interested!) Ricky Pang started pole fitness in 2011 because of a TV show. “There was a male contestant on America’s Got Talent who combined the elements of dance, strength and intense gymnastics all bundled into a pole performance with grace and fluidity,” Ricky says. “Within two weeks I attended my first pole fitness class.”
Ricky is now a pole fitness instructor at Tantra Fitness. Before that, he was an accountant who rarely stepped foot into a gym. “Becoming an instructor to share the fundamentals was just the natural progression,” he says. Pole fitness has even garnered a separate men’s division in the Canadian Pole Fitness Championships. At the nationals in 2013, Ricky competed and placed first.
Pole fitness is already popular in America, Russia and the UK, but here in Canada, it’s just getting started. There seems to be a slight reluctance from the male population. Perhaps they see it as too feminine or too reminiscent of the strip club. Men, however, with their broad shoulders and small hips, are perfectly built for pole fitness.
Ricky suggests that men should try a class and see what they think. Jude Law did. The British actor once took up pole fitness to train for a role. “There is plenty of content [to choose from], including cardio and strength, that will keep men challenged,” says Ricky. “It may even replace your existing gym membership.” Why not try a class out and see where it takes you!