When it comes to pole dancing, you either love it or hate it: It’s a badass underground workout with no in between. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, pole dancing is here to stay — and it’s helping oodles of women connect with their bodies in a whole new (and wonderful) way.
Let’s face it ladies: Pole dancing gets a bad rap. Meanwhile, it’s one of the most intense forms of resistance training there is (I mean, you have to hold and control your body gracefully — in the air!). It’s a workout that isn’t focused on how to change your body, but on learning what your body is capable of — your milestones end up achieved on both an emotional and physical level.
Case in point: Meet LuAyne Brown, a plus-size pole dancer who’s been in the game since 2006 an recently became a viral sensation. An introductory pole dancing class was offered at a studio near her home, and the rest is history. She’s not just the queen of body positivity, she’s the queen of everything positivity. When commenting on the friends who have since distanced themselves from her since she began competing, her upbeat and bubbly attitude toward it is awe inspiring — if I was in her heels, there’d be a lot of drop-kicking going on.
Seriously, don’t you just want to party with her? And LuAyne is just one of the many women pole dancing has inspired.
1. Makeda Smith
Photo credit: Makeda Smith
“I recall at age 50 wanting to step up my exercise routine. I took a local yoga class, but it didn’t thrill me enough to return. Then I came across a Living Social deal for pole dancing classes — and that first class hooked me forever! It’s been three years now. I run my own business, take care of my mom and am a grandmother — but I don’t think about anything else in class except conquering new moves. Pole dancing allows me to be fabulous, sensual, strong and sexy in a safe and loving environment of supportive women. Who needs gym shoes and sweats when you can work out in 8-inch heels (which I’ve graduated to) and booty shorts?”
2. Danielle Amico
Photo credit: Danielle Amico
“Almost two years ago, I started poling during a rough patch in my life. I used the classes as an outlet to keep my mind off things — but they ended up becoming so much more. You walk around feeling like you have this sexy secret that sets you apart from other people. You feel proud to know you have this ability to lift your body over your head and twirl around in the air effortlessly — it’s exhilarating! You feel like Superwoman. Pole has changed my life — and chances are any woman who does pole will tell you the same. I’ve since become an instructor and have launched my own line of pole clothing called LeiVola Polewear (which is Italian for ‘She Soars’).”
3. Victoria Shockley
Photo credit: Victoria Shockley
“Growing up, I never did any physical activities outside of gym class, and even then it was unwillingly. I’d get out of breath walking up the stairs and couldn’t even get on the monkey bars! I was skinny and weak with no muscle definition — I hated showing off my stomach because I didn’t have abs, and always worried about being too pale, too skinny, too tall. I tried fake tanning lotions and pushup bras, and I purposely bought shoes with little to no heel so I wouldn’t be ‘too’ tall in them. All of that changed when I discovered pole dancing. I found an amazing group of supportive, fun women who don’t care about what you look like or what fitness level you’re at. I not only feel better physically, but I have so much more confidence. I feel beautiful enough to purchase (and wear!) my first crop top and proudly walk in 7-inch platforms… despite the fact that they make me 6’2″.”
4. Shallan Ramsey
Photo credit: Shallan Ramsey
“I started pole dancing a little over three years ago: I was coming out of a very unhealthy relationship that had left my self-esteem and body image in the toilet. I wanted something that would help me gain some confidence back but also allow for some time to myself — which as a mother of three daughters is sometimes difficult to do. I can honestly say pole changed my life, helping me to heal from the inside out. I now teach classes and run my own business. I’m passionate about pole and what it not only did for my body, but my heart.”