For many in Western culture, pole dancing has long been associated with the adult entertainment industry. However, in recent years, its popularity as a form of exercise and art has exploded. Now, it’s not uncommon to see gym or dance studio advertisements for pole dancing classes or social media posts of dancers showing off their new moves. It’s a fitness trend which is here to stay.
To discover a bit more about the exciting world of Pole Dancing, we talked to Aviva Hanan, owner at the popular iPole Dance Studio in the suburb of Sandton, Gauteng province, South Africa.
Romi: Can you share with us some of your background and how you got into pole dancing?
Aviva: I started ballet at the age of 6. Thereafter I moved to contemporary modern dance which I did until Matric. I then stopped dancing to focus on my career and became an admitted attorney.
During that time, I went to a friend’s bachelorette where they had a pole. I thought I would be good at it given the fact that I was a trained dancer. But I was surprised at how difficult it was and just how much core strength it required. I really loved it though, so I decided to sign up for a 3-month contract at a studio close by. That is where I found my new addiction.
It didn’t take me long to pick it up and, after 6 months, the studio asked me if I would be interested in teaching. As they say, the rest is history!
Romi: What was the journey like opening iPole Dance Studio ? And some of the highs and lows you experienced through it?
Aviva: Teaching at someone else’s studio and owning your own studio are two very different things! Opening my own studio was probably one of the scariest things I have ever done. But it has also been the most rewarding!
I had originally started iPole studio with two wonderful ladies because I was still working full time. However, due to some creative differences about the vision for the studio, we decided to part ways and I bought them out. That was definitely a low point.
Another low point was lockdown in 2020. Because our students need a pole and an instructor with them at all times, we were forced to close for many months. There were times when I thought we wouldn’t even reopen. I am however so blessed and beyond grateful to God and my amazing friends, instructors and students who stood by me and helped me to rebuild the studio.
I am excited to say it is now even bigger and better than it was before lockdown!
Another unexpected surprise from lockdown was that so many of my students have now bought poles for their homes. So now we are able to offer all our classes online through Zoom and Bookamat. We also teach stretch and conditioning classes which don’t need a pole and recordings are conveniently available for one week after the class which they can also access through our Bookamat studio software.
Romi: Can you explain what pole dancing is and what the benefits are for fitness and physique?
Aviva: By definition Pole Dancing can be described as a combination of dance and acrobatics using a vertical pole. Although its history originates from strip clubs, it has evolved so much over the last 10 years. It is now considered to be a mainstream form of fitness.
Pole dancing is a complete body workout and some of the benefits include:
- Increased strength and flexibility
- Balance and coordination
- Weight loss
- Increased muscle tone
Plus, best of all it is an amazing way to release stress and do wonders for your mental health!
Romi: You have four levels that range from beginner, intro to intermediate, intermediate and advanced. How do you determine when your students can move on to the next level? And do beginners need any sort of experience prior to joining iPole Dance Studio?
Aviva: The Pole Dance Community (PDC) is an advisory body in the industry. They’ve created a book which contains roughly 6 levels of various moves ranging from Level 1 (Beginner) to Level 6 (Elite). We use these moves as a benchmark to determine when a student can move to the next level. We have a list of moves for each level. The student will need to be able to complete a minimum of 60% of the moves before the instructor will allow them to move up to the next level.
Beginners do not need any sort of experience on the pole. And they don’t even need to be on any sort of fitness level either! Everyone in the beginner classes starts at the beginning. We will teach you the correct technique so that you will become fit and strong. Plus, you’ll have fun whilst doing it.
Romi: What are some important accessories that your students might require when joining your classes? And things they need to avoid before coming to one of your classes?
Aviva: At out studio we provide you with all the necessary fitness equipment such as mats, weights, yoga blocks and therabands. The only thing you need to bring is a pair of shorts (clean exposed legs help you stick to the pole), water and a great attitude!
Things to avoid when coming to our studio are anything that has made you sweaty or wearing any type of body or hand cream. Cream, oil and jewellery are the enemies of the pole. They can cause you to slip and slide making it difficult to grip the pole.
Romi: Do students need to wear specific clothing to help with grip on the pole?
Aviva: Yes, they need to wear normal gym clothing but also bring a pair of shorts as we need skin to help us grip on the pole. We also dance barefoot.
Romi: What is the difference between iPole Dance Studio classes and the fitness classes that you offer?
Aviva: Our Pole classes focus specifically on pole. In these classes you will learn specific tricks on the pole according to the level you are in.
We also have pole flow classes which focus on taking all the tricks you have learned and putting them into a dance routine.
Our fitness classes are supplementary classes to pole which focus on getting you more flexible. (Pole flex is a stretch class) and stronger for pole (pole conditioning is a strength and conditioning class). What is great about these fitness classes is that no pole is required so if you would like to join these classes online from home. No need to come into the studio unless you want to!
Romi: Is there anything exciting in the works for iPole Dance Studio?
Aviva: The most exciting news for our studio is that in 2022 we decided to expand our aerial offerings. We’re now including not only pole dancing but Lyra Hoop classes!! Aerial hoop is an aerial fitness exercise done inside of a metal hoop which is suspended in the air.
In a class, you’ll learn to lift yourself on the hoop. You’ll then performing tricks and poses which are a great way to increase your strength and fitness. It takes aerial yoga to the next level!
Romi: Who is pole dancing for/ who should try pole dancing?
Aviva: Pole Dancing is for anyone who wants to get fit and have fun whilst doing it. It is for those people who are tired of boring workouts. Pole does not discriminate and is open to anyone of any age, shape, size or gender!! It honestly doesn’t matter who you are or what your story is, pole is for everyone!
If you’re as curious about pole dancing as we are, we highly encourage you to get in touch with Aviva. Browse and book a class here. If you can’t attend in-person classes, then you can still get a great stretch and conditioning workout at home through Zoom.
Want to join an iPole Dance Studio class today? Book here!