Think you're clued up about drug abuse? Think again. Arnica abuse is alive and well. Well, it was for me last week. The reason? A pole dancing introductory workshop.
When all the Health24 writers were asked to try a form of exercise which we've never done before, I bravely volunteered to try pole dancing.
I was an embarassed and hesitant volunteer though, and tried to rope in several of my friends for moral support. Two of them were quite keen to come along, but got cold feet a week before the class.
I arrived at Dance4Fitness, a women-only dance and fitness studio in Claremont, slightly apprehensive about the hour that lay ahead of me. I was welcomed by Dani, the instructor, and Nicky, owner of the studio.
Nicky discussed the history behind Dance4Fitness and her experiences when she taught pole dancing in the UK, before introducing it to South Africans. Initially she ran workshops in people's homes, but after a couple of years she decided to open a studio instead.
“One of the reasons I felt more comfortable running classes in a studio was because of safety reasons. In people's homes, I had to bring along a portable pole. Problems arose when some of the participants had a couple too many - full of Dutch courage, they would run towards the pole, only to miss it completely and land laughing in a heap,” Nicky explained.
Me, myself, I ... and the pole
Then it was time for me to have a go. The vibrant and friendly Dani, a qualified professional dancer, taught me a pole dancing routine, consisting of simple links, spins, poses and tricks. To my amazement, I didn't feel embarrassed at all – perhaps it was because I was too busy concentrating on not falling.
I was scared that the moves would be too raunchy. Instead, they were graceful, playful and feminine.
Not only was it great fun, it was also a fantastic workout. I could feel that I was using every muscle in my body – the reason for the Arnica abuse which started the following day. I didn't find it too difficult and think I did pretty well for a first-timer because I have a history in ballet and contemporary dance. It was just getting onto the pole and then off, and then on, that got me the most. The fact that my hands were wet from all the sweating definitely didn't help matters.
“Pole dancing is about strength, control, agility and acrobatics, using sensual, flowing dance movements. It is a dance form that gets you fit, strong and confident,” explained Dani.
Pole dancing in SA
It has become very popular in Australia, the UK and America and is gradually taking off in South Africa.
“The stigma is slowly receding and people are recognising it as a different, fun way to get fit, play a little and challenge themselves,” said Dani.
Dance4Fitness offers four levels of pole dancing, each consisting of six classes. The classes are open to adult women of all ages – they even have classes for women over 60. Apart from pole dancing, the studio offers body balance (a toning and stretching class), cardio boot camp, middle eastern dance and contemporary funk.
For more information, contact Dance4Fitness on 021 674 3640 or email email@example.com.
(Health24, April 2008)
Pole dancing: fit and fab