The art of pole dancing has undergone a rapid transformation in the past decade, shaking off a somewhat seedy image to become one of the hottest fitness trends around.
And now with the arrival of Jennifer Lopez’s latest Hollywood blockbuster Hustlers, which sees the star stun viewers with her moves on the pole, a fresh batch of exercise enthusiasts are turning to the pole as part of their daily workout.
The art form, which has become synonymous with underground gentleman’s clubs and strippers, is now back in fashion and with a vengeance, after it helped J Lo get into the best shape of her life at 50.
It’s even had the seal of approval from Vogue, which has labelled it the ‘It-Fitness Trend’, citing how it helps FKA Twigs ‘train like an athlete’ and gives her ‘tensile strength and sylphlike ethereality’.
Now pole fitness trainer Cat Lee has revealed to Femail why pole dancing is the ideal workout for toning up and getting results where other fitness regimes fall short.
Pole dancer Cat Lee (pictured) explained that as the art form becomes more popular, uptake in the industry improves each year
The art’s increasing popularity comes as fans gear up to watch Jennifer Lopez’s latest Hollywood blockbuster Hustlers
Cat who teaches at École de Pole in London said: ‘Pole is a full body workout – upper body, great for core, glutes, all parts of your legs.
‘Plus you’re getting a cardiovascular workout, working on your coordination, flexibility, and mobility! It’s the perfect workout in my opinion!’
‘Pull ups on the pole, spins, and various grips use all parts of the arm and shoulder muscles in pole.
‘Everything you are doing constitutes a body-weight workout – you are having to lift yourself on the pole rather than using artificial weights – which is much harder.’
According to Cat, the best move for toning up is all the climbing required.
‘It uses both legs, arms and core and requires you to squeeze everything properly to succeed. It’s a little painful when you start, but you get used to it fast,’ she said.
FKA Twigs said that pole dancing helps her to ‘train like an athlete’, and even Vogue has gushed over how the sport has given her ‘tensile strength and sylphlike ethereality’
Steps star Faye Tozer revealed that pole dancing was her secret weapon when training for Strictly in 2018
‘Climbing requires a good grip using your calves and knees to lock round the pole, your core to stabilise your centre and arms, shoulders and upper back muscles to pull you up onto the pole.
‘Each climb is progressively harder as you climb higher and higher, as your muscles have to constant engage to stop you slipping off.
‘The climb up you have to slide your hands above your head, slide up your legs, and pull through the upper body before squeezing your legs back on the pole at the new height. It isn’t easy.’
As with any exercise it takes a few months to see visible weight loss and toning, but Cat said that students report feeling ‘better and stronger after just a few weeks, and the mental benefits are almost immediate.’
Fans will see the singer display her flair for the art form which has become synonymous with underground gentleman’s clubs and strippers
She added: ‘What makes it better than other types of exercise, is how fun it makes doing things that are tough or tiring in a gym.
‘You will hardly notice how hard you are working until you stop.’
Noticing the increasing number of people turning to the art, Cat said: ‘Pole has become gradually more popular and mainstream – uptake does improve each year as the industry grows.
‘Little by little people are finding out about pole – and how fun and energising it is! We also see more men doing pole which is wonderful!
Jennifer plays the role of stripper Ramona Vega who is in charge of a group of hustlers who swindle money from men in New York
‘Like any fitness fad, some people just come along whenever there is a spike in that particular thing being popular or talked about – but many of our students find a real love and passion with pole, and it becomes something they pursue for many many years.’
Pole dancing’s newfound fame has also seen a growing number of celebrities take to the pole in order to get into shape, with the latest celebrity to take to the art being none other than Jenny from the block herself.
Speaking to American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel earlier this year Jennifer said: ‘I have a lot of respect for people who do the pole. It’s much more difficult than professional dancing.’
Also among the celebrities displaying their love for the pole are singer Shakira, actress Emma Watson and reality star Kim Kardashian.
The film sees the Papi hitmaker play stripper Ramona Vega who is in charge of a group of hustlers who swindle money from unsuspecting rich men in New York.
Addressing the art form’s association with the stripping industry Cat continued: ‘This seems like a shame because we’re proud of being associated with strippers!
‘Some of the best pole dancers come from this background, and trust us – they know how to move. Pole dance came from strip clubs – and there’s no reason to hide that.
The singer had previously said that she had a lot of respect for dancers who worked with the pole
‘It doesn’t mean we are all strippers, or want to be strippers, or even do pole for anything other than a workout – but in the pole industry we try to positively support all women around us regardless of what they do for a living.
Jennifer shared the gruelling training she had to undergo in preparation for the film on social medias
Jennifer said that the training she underwent much more difficult than professional dancing
In the past Emma Watson has also graced the pole and shown fans her flair for the art
Also among the celebrities displaying their love and appreciation for the pole is singer Shakira
In an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, reality star Kim Kardashian also had a go at the pole
You can catch Cat teaching at Ecole de Pole teaching lessons using ClassPass – a monthly membership that allows you to buy credits and use them in more than 20,000 boutique fitness studios worldwide.
ClassPass is available in five major cities across the UK, including London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol and Brighton.