Pole fitness: The sexy side of health and fitness | Balance Guide

A pole fitness instructor demonstrates some strong moves, at Dolphin Dance
A pole fitness instructor demonstrates some strong moves, at Dolphin Dance's former studio in Poulsbo (now open in Port Orchard).
— image credit: Megan Stephenson / Herald

Adrienne McLaughlin got into pole dancing on accident. An athlete all her life, she said she loved going dancing with her friends, and one day installed a pole in the house she shared with friends. Her friends were entertained by impromptu shows, so McLaughlin decided to look into pole fitness more seriously.

After six months studying pole dance and fitness, she thought, “If I love this, and my friends love this, there’s got to be other people out there who love this too.” So in 2009, she opened Envy Pole Fitness studio in Bremerton.

McLaughlin and a handful of pole fitness instructors in Kitsap County are defying the stigma of pole dancing, by embracing the difficult acrobatic moves and encouraging strong self-esteem.

“It’s a form of fitness and new form of dance,” said Elizabeth Tailleur, an instructor at Envy. “It just happens to involve poles,” added fellow instructor, Sabrina Ginty.

Launa Sorensen, who teaches at Dolphin Dance in Port Orchard, said their goal is for students to be happy, and accept themselves as they are now. Married, single, overweight, no muscle, older  — “all sizes, shapes and abilities are beautiful,” Tailleur added.

Pole fitness is a fast-growing sport, but isn’t new. Using poles as a part of acrobatic and gymnastic routines is thousands of years old, and is experiencing a resurgence in performances like Cirque du Soleil. There is even a World Pole Sport Fitness Competition every year, where 26 countries participate. Pole fitness users have been advocating for it to be included in the Olympics.

But beyond the physical stamina needed to hold yourself horizontally from a pole, small studios geared toward women are popping up, championing the other kind of pole fitness.

“To me, its like powerful way of reclaiming your own sensuality,” Tailleur said. “As women, we’re told be sexy but not too sexy, because then you’re a slut.”

Sorensen said her studio emphasizes a dance approach.

“We’re helping women get in touch with themselves, using this environment to blossom,” she said.

Dolphin Dance opened in 2008 in Poulsbo by Emily Boberg-Courts. She says the studio is built on the idea that “every woman deserves to feel sexy,” and the classes teach “self-esteem and confidence, while women learn to move gracefully and sensually.”

Both Dolphin Dance and Envy, which opened in 2009, offer several levels of classes, beginning with flexibility and core strengthening techniques, up to learning spins and tricks high on the pole. The students often wear yoga gear to class, and not everyone wears heels. Bachelorette nights are also popular, which offer props like boa scarves and beads to have fun with. Sorensen said there’s a lot of giggling that goes on.

But its not just girls that want to have fun. Josiah Long, 21, heard about classes at Envy, but like Dolphin Dance, Envy didn’t offer male or co-ed classes. McLaughlin didn’t want to discriminate, so a year ago she added separate classes for both men and women.

“If I was told I couldn’t join a team because I’m a woman I’d be real upset,” she said. “Not one single woman had an issue with it. They saw how hard the men were working, seeing [that] ‘he’s struggling as much as I am.’”

Long said he likes his new workout because it blends strength and flexibility with sexy moves. Along with pole fitness, he also does yoga, cardio and weightlifting, but loves working on his moves on his pole at home.

“Just like in life, you think you aren't strong enough to do [something], get over yourself,” he said. “Try something new, how do you know [you won’t like it]?”

Instructors at Dolphin Dance and Envy describe pole fitness as addicting — unlike a gym where workouts can get stagnate, pole fitness is fast, fun and full of encouraging classmates. Students’ ages range from mid-20s to mid-50s, and are nurses, baristas, military wives, writers and bankers.

“When you nail something, everyone is so excited, there’s no jealousy,”  Ginty said. “It’s one of most positive atmospheres I’ve ever been in.”


Envy Pole Fitness — 6710 Kitsap Way, Bremerton. (360) 930-2107

Dolphin Dance — 818 Bay St., Port Orchard. (206) 201-3635

If you are looking for a new workout, but aren’t ready for pole fitness, try belly dancing, exotic dance or zumba at these studios or several others throughout Kitsap County.


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