As the pole fit craze continues at a pace, Jenny Hewett limbers up and finds out why it’s so (painfully) addictive.
Conversations about pole fit are much the same the world over: ‘Are you inverting the pole yet? How many bruises are you sporting?’ The pole fit aerobics craze has swooped the city with such aggression, that conventional work-outs including bootcamp and cross fit are having to make way for this new trend in fitness. In most cases, classes are so popular that ladies are required to book their spot sometimes weeks ahead.
Former notoriety aside, in a workout context, pole fit is a fun way for women to get fit, flexible and strengthen their upper body and core while embracing their femininity.
But it’s also one of the most painful workouts around, and we speak from experience. ‘Expect bruises and burns especially in the early stages of training,’ says pole fit instructor Vladislava Zhizhchenko. ‘The bruising does lessen over time as the body becomes more resilient to friction with the pole and the right technique is developed,’ she says. Here, we inverted, twirled and attitude-spun our way around the city to see how the classes compare.
DIVA at James & Alex Dance Studio
Class level: Beginners/improvers, group class.
The experience: Francesca leads the class in a warm-up before you get changed into shorts (which are recommended to grip the pole), with beginners on one side and more advanced on the other. These classes involve freestyle instruction rather than structured choreography. This involves demonstrating and tailoring moves for the appropriate level and making sure they are perfected before moving onto the next level.
Pros: Francesca instills us with confidence and the mats are heavily padded for safety.
Cons: The group classes fill up quite quickly, and on some occasions there might be three girls to a pole.
The result: Our arms are more shaped and toned the next morning and we’ve also come away with some impressive bruises on our thighs.
Dhs100 per class. Dhs900 for ten classes. James & Alex Dance Studio, Concord Tower, Dubai Media City (04 447 0773). Other locations: Optimal Fitness, Commercial Offices Building 3, Dubai Studio City,
www.optimalfitness.ae (04 441 9687).
Milan Pole Dance Studio
Class level: Pole basic.
The experience: As far as venues go, there’s nothing that compares to here. This swanky studio features about 20 permanent pole fixtures and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. It also has spinning poles, which is the cheat’s version, instead of stationary fixtures, which we found dizzying but great for gaining momentum. The classes are ideal for those who want to learn a choreographed routine as well as basic spins. Shay, the instructor, dons knee-high stiletto boots for the class.
Pros: The venue feels professional and it’s nice to put the moves you’ve learned into something complete.
Cons: You won’t get any one-on-one attention here, with the instructor mainly focused on demonstrating the moves on her own pole. Because you don’t share poles also means the atmosphere can be a little icy at first, but everyone soon loosens up and there are plenty of giggles.
The result: Not sharing poles means you never get a break, so you’ll get a great workout on your arms and upper body, plus get to practise the moves as much as you want.
Dhs130 per session. Three trial classes for Dhs260. Packages from Dhs1,160. Al Mazaya Business Centre, Tower AA1, JLT (04 430 3693).
Pole Fit Dubai
Class level: Pole advanced.
The experience: Ballerina-like Russian teacher Vlada instructs this packed class in Dubai Marina, which involves a warm-up and freestyle instruction. The most advanced class we’ve experienced so far, we learnt how to headstand while straddling the pole as well as how to lift ourselves up onto the pole from the floor.
Pros: Vlada is graceful and elegant, keeping the whole thing classy. She’s also a firm and encouraging tutor.
Cons: Only yoga mats are provided for safety.
The result: Having done a class before this we were somewhat zapped of energy, but could feel the burn in our arms and legs the next day.
Dhs100 per session. Packages from Dhs550. Capella Club, Silverene Tower (04 452 6000).
Class level: One-on-one.
The experience: Aussie pole instructor Donelle Sweeting has set up a pole fit studio in her villa, ideal for private sessions and hen parties. The studio is carpeted, which means you’ll save yourself banged knees. A fun warm-up jigging around the pole kicks things off before Donelle demonstrates an active routine, which involves both the pole and floor work.
Pros: With only four poles and one person to each, there’s lots of one-on-one time. Also depending on your level, you’ll be able to learn more of the routine in one sitting.
Cons: The space is small, so it can be tricky to adjust to the angles and the way the routine is taught at first.
The result: Our arms feel strong and we’ve only come away with one injury, a small carpet burn on one knee.
Dhs100 per session. Villa 15, Street 3b, Jumeirah 3 (050 595 6507).