A handful of studios are leading the way in Dubai with the new pole fitness trend. We headed to MPDS to try it out for ourselves
Time Out Dubai staff
The promise A great cardiovascular workout that tones, strengthens and stretches the whole body and builds muscle, while helping to improve flexibility and agility.
Step by step The class begins with a warm up, followed by a series of short routines to help introduce and refine basic ballet technique. We plié and piqué our way around the pole, using it for support and balance, before moving on to trickier moves such as a fondu and passé. Our instructor, Mary, makes it look effortless and cheerily reminds us to raise our arms, smile and keep our feet turned out at all times; easier said than done, especially for the less flexible among us. By the time we move on to choreography our calves are aching and our toes are on the verge of cramping from all the pointing.
The choreography is surprisingly classical, and the pace relatively slow, which means the sequence of moves is easy to get the hang of.
The technique, however, is challenging, and putting what we have learned about correct positioning into practice is trickier than expected. But Mary’s enthusiasm is infectious and, despite our lack of natural elegance and poise, we thoroughly enjoy working through the routine. No pole tricks are involved until the very end of the session when we add a move that requires wedging the pole between hip and armpit in order to swing our legs from one side of the pole to the other in a kind of windmill motion. Beautifully graceful when done properly, amusing otherwise.
The result Although the class is conducted at a leisurely pace, our calves and thighs feel truly worked out and well on the way to becoming the toned and sculpted muscles we were promised. The technique is tough, though would be easier for those with a ballet background (balancing on one leg and tip-toe, in a demi-plié with turned out feet and one leg straight out to the side is no mean feat), but Mary tells us that Pole Ballet and Pole Gym are complimentary because you use the same muscles that you use to lift yourself up onto the pole, so Pole Ballet goes a long way towards developing the essential muscle strength needed for pole fitness classes, while enhancing posture and refining the lines of legs and toes.
Pros • A unique and fun way to tone muscles and build strength and flexibility • Instructors are enthusiastic and welcoming • A great leg-centric workout for toning thigh and calf muscles as well as glutes and abdominals • Helps improve posture
Cons • Not a class to take if you’re looking for fast-paced, heart-thumping cardio • Easier with previous ballet experience Dhs100 for the first class. MPDS, Al Mazaya Business Avenue AA1 (056 259 7911).
What else is on offer? MPDS offer a number of classes designed to work in conjunction with each other to develop the skills needed for refined pole technique.
Pole Basic Pole Basic classes are recommended for beginners because they combine an introduction to tricks on the pole with fun choreography. The studio’s instructors also recommend supplementing this with a Pole Gym class to focus on technique.
Pole Gym This class involves no choreography and instead focuses on mastering specific tricks with the correct and safe technique. Levels start from basic and gradually progress up to level four. Instructors introduce new tricks and give one-on-one instruction so that you can progress at you own pace. Classes have an informal, friendly and supportive vibe.
Flexy A class dedicated to helping participants increase overall flexibility on and off the pole.
Yoga Pole A class combining the principles of yoga with pole work to increase flexibility and strength.