Jerry Armstrong, Sherpa John Lacroix and I went pole dancing as an extreme cross-training exercise a few weeks ago. Our ultra running muscles were tortured by some of the stretches and moves, but it was a good kind of sore.
As the girl in the group I got to wear stilettos for some of my dance time. This was a hoot for several reasons, the first being that this was the first time I EVER wore stilettos. Seriously. I’ve worn heels a hundred times but my shoe of choice has always been trail shoes or flip-flops.
After putting on the heels I gasped at how much stretch occurred in the front side of my body. Tight hip flexors and adductors opened as I carefully placed each foot around the pole, and every time I bent forward at the hips there was a great stretch in the sacrum and glutes that was not hampered by tight hamstrings.
We did upper-body work on the pole that challenged our leg-dominant bodies. I’m embarrassed to say that I couldn’t climb the pole like the guys (or Stacy) did. My hands slid and even after making sure all the lotion was off I couldn’t do it. Stacy said this could be a result of several factors: hormones, where I am in my monthly cycle, adrenaline, coffee intake (WHAT?!?!) and initial fight-or-flight response related to something new and scary.
At the end of the hour we did more floor work. Stacy showed us how to isolate the sacrum and core in an exercise called the “Speed Bump”. We watched in awe as she articulated her spine to get massive curve in her lower back while her butt acted as the speed bump of her body. After the demo we tried this move a few times. I had to really slow it down to work on feeling the articulation in my lower back, which in turn opened up the front side of my body again. The move felt great because it was an active opening and not a holding posture.
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Two days after the pole dancing adventure I went out for a run. The stretch in my hamstrings and adductors was still there and my back felt great. The stilettos changed my posture and opened tight runner muscles, and having the pole to hold onto allowed me to get more side-to-side motion in my core than would otherwise have occurred if I were trying to wobble down the street in 6-inch heels.
As a cross-training exercise I absolutely loved this class. It’s active (something this runner girl requires if it’s going to hold my interest) and having the pole to push/pull against during active stretching, strengthening and moves is a brilliant piece of fun.
I can’t wait to go back for more classes and learn how to climb that pole!
I’m a pole dancer AND runner (though of the marathon-or-less variety and only recently of the trail variety), and I can attest — pole dancing is great cross-training. It’s not all stilettos and sexy catwoman (or man) moves around the pole. The sport of pole dancing is filled with aerial tricks and combinations that require some intense strength (especially in the upper body), balance, and flexibility.
If you’re ever so inclined, check out a few videos on YouTube of champion pole dancers like Oona Kivela and Zoraya Judd — they’re quite awe-inspiring in the amount of strength they’ve got and the incredible things they can do.