In a spin with pole fitness

(Published in The Observer on Sunday, 1 April, 2012)–fitness/

It may conjure up images of seedy strip clubs but pole fitness is a rapidly growing phenomenon that promises a fantastic upper body workout, requiring strength, agility and flexibility. In essence, this is exercise with a twist and it’s quickly becoming the hip new way to get in shape.

Pole fitness instructor Quinn McCrimmon has been teaching the fitness classes in Cayman for just over a year. The classes she said are proving popular with those who want to get fit, but don’t want to do a traditional fitness class.

“Pole fitness is a great addition to a fitness routine – it challenges your endurance and strength and gives an amasing upper body and abdominal workout.”

Quinn said she is keen to shed pole dancing’s seedy image and for people to see it as the art form that it is.

“Right now, pole dancing is becoming massive as a fun addition to a fitness routine. It does still have a stigma of strip clubs, but I am trying to shed that image by focusing purely on the fitness element. For me it’s not about stripping and I don’t teach stripping,” Quinn explained. “Some people are quick to judge, but on the most part people have been accepting and many are surprised when they join a class to find how it challenges fitness levels and builds body strength.”

Indeed, I joined Quinn for an intro pole fitness class at King’s Gym and was left with aching arms and stomach muscles for a good few days after. Not only that, but the class was immensely fun and challenging too as we went through some of the basic moves, which can be built upon over time, eventually leading up to spins, climbs, inverts and energetic dance routines.

Classes, which run for an hour, follow a traditional format, with a gentle warm up before hand and cool down stretches after. The maximum in each class is four, with each person having their own pole to work on.

Quinn originally hails from Canada and is a professionally trained dancer; she majored in ballet at the University of Calgary. Her interest in pole dancing was piqued when she went to her cousin’s birthday party where a pole dancer had been invited for added pizzazz.

“I instantly fell in love with it,” Quinn explained. “It’s just a really fun and playful way to combine dance and fitness.”

Quinn started taking lessons and worked her way up to become a certified pole instructor. She hasn’t looked back since.

“I love it, especially when I’m teaching a class and one of the girls suddenly gets a move. It’s a real sense of achievement.”

Quinn said that she encourages everyone to give it a go – even if they think they don’t have the strength to do it.

“We take it slow and after a while your body adapts to the strength you put on it. Everyone is different though and learns at different paces. After about three of four classes you start to get a lot more confidence and become more comfortable with trusting the pole. Slowly after time you start to really build you strength up.”

Indeed, Quinn let me have a sneak peek at a class she had been teaching for almost a year. Each class member deftly spun round the pole incorporating elegant dance moves, spins and gymnastic like climbs and gravity defying vertical holds. I only just about managed to hold myself up on the pole during the intro class, but Quinn promised me that it’s only a matter of time.

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