In the past, pole dancing was associated with the seedier parts of society (think clubs and night joints). But now, regular women are picking up the dance for different reasons – to get toned and bring out the extroverted side of themselves.
Shernes Tan, 22, was one of them. Three years ago, Tan was surfing the net when she stumbled across a video of a pole dancer. The next day, she signed up for a class.
Today, she balances a sales job with a part-time pole dancing instructor position at Viva Vertical Stage, Kuala Lumpur. She is also completing an instructor’s course in yoga.
But Tan admits that her favourite activity is pole dancing, as it isn’t as slow and monotonous as working out at the gym.
Pole dancing is well-known for the sexy elements in its moves and music. Tan doesn’t deny that this may put some people off, especially those who are introverted.
“Most, if not all, of my students are shy about executing the sexier moves. It takes time but after a while, they get into the spirit and let the dance take its course,” she said.
In fact, Tan admitted that she herself was a very shy person before learning pole dancing. “I couldn’t look strangers in the eye,” she said.
Learning the sexy, bold moves gave her more confidence and Tan brought that confidence out of the classroom to get a job as a full-time sales executive.
During the photo shoot, Tan scaled the two-metre pole almost effortlessly. From ground level, it looked daunting, and apparently it is.
Pole work requires a lot of strength, which is why beginners practise spinning work on the ground and focus on building their strength before “graduating” to pole work during the next course.
“In class, the routine will require a lot of core and arm strength. I tell my students to do regular push-ups, squats and exercises at home to focus on those areas,” she said.
Most, if not all, of Tan’s colleagues look extremely fit and toned, and she agrees that pole dancing helps with maintaining a fit figure.
“While pole dancing won’t help you lose weight, having to come in for regular classes will make you keep your diet in mind,” said Tan. “Furthermore, you naturally tone up and build muscles due to the routines you have to go through.”
Her students are mostly young working females in their late 20s and 30s who come in from a day in the office, looking for a good workout.
But Tan said that anyone can come in to learn pole dancing, regardless of gender and age.
The only requirement is that you don’t suffer from any heart problems (although the instructor won’t turn you away, they’ll recommend another routine).
When it comes to age, as long as you are old enough, there isn’t a “maximum age” policy.
In fact, the studio has a student who is in her 60s. “As long as you are open to the idea of sexy dance moves and want to get fit, pole dancing may be for you,” said Tan.