You’re high on a 9-metre vertical pole, gripping it only with your legs as you hold a precision pose, the rest of your body firm and strong. Next you’re flipping, sliding down and free running back up. Drawing on a circus tradition of power, strength and acrobatics, yet now starting to blend dance and movement from pole dancing, this is an exciting time to explore the Chinese pole.
First of all, there’s the pole. It’s made of steel (but usually covered in rubber for a good grip), between 3-9 metres high and around 3 inches in diameter. Some Chinese poles actually rotate – allowing you to spin around on the vertical axis, adding movement to what would otherwise be static moves. The closer you bring your body into the pole, the faster it spins.
In Chinese pole classes, you’ll start by building your core and upper body strength through calisthenics and basic moves on the pole, before progressing to more advanced poses and tricks. The famous trick to aspire to is ‘the flag’ – where you hang straight out from the pole with your hands. Needless to say, this requires incredible upper body strength. #Goals.
This is a serious strength and conditioning workout for your core, upper body and every muscle in between. Practise on the Chinese pole and you will get strong fast, using just your own bodyweight. Expect exceptional muscle tone, beautiful flexibility, and a real fitness boost too.
You’ll leave your pole session feeling empowered and exhilarated – it’s a tonic for the mind as well as the body. Feel the pride that comes with pushing your own limits, the excitement of exploring this changing art form and the sense of community that’ll surround you.
The right clothes and shoes can transform your Chinese pole experience. First-timers should wear long johns or leggings under old jeans with a belt – it’s all about the grip, protection and coverage. On your feet, go with plimsoles or soft, flexible trainers for now. If you get into it, buy professional Chinese pole footwear like Tabi boots, Feiyue shoes or Teva Protons online or in London’s Chinatown – they’re not expensive and will give you the edge.