YOUTH MATTERS Don’t be fooled, it’s poles apart if you’re dancing for fitness...

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When most people first think of pole dancing, their immediate reaction is to imagine scantily-clad women in a sleazy bar, having money thrown at them.

It was therefore no surprise to see the look of horror on my parents faces when I announced I was to take up the activity.

The colour which had originally drained from their faces soon returned when I reassured them that it was in fact Pole Fitness, a new exercise class being run at my local gym.

The response from the majority of people seems to reflect that of my parents. A look of horror mixed with disgust, and in some cases confusion.

However, when you take up the ‘sport’ or even find out a bit more about it, you begin to realise the physical and mental strength required to perform the moves.

Pole Fitness is becoming so popular there are even national and world championships in place for women to show off their talents and for novices to gain an insight into what they can achieve.

When I first signed up to the classes, I was extremely apprehensive.

The room consisted of four shiny poles, a mirrored wall and six other girls.

We paired up and took to a pole following our instructor Sue’s warm-up.

Next we learnt the basics, such as striding around the pole on tiptoe to the beat of music and performing a basic swing (which, despite being called basic, took me a while to gain the courage to lift my entire body weight off the ground and on to my arms to enable me to swing!).

I’m only into my third lesson, but I am already having so much fun.

So, next time somebody mentions pole dancing to you, take a fresh perspective on the topic, and remember it’s not all for male entertainment!

Kelly Wickham