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Iron Matron's pole-dancing discovery

All we needed for a pole-dancing grand finale was having Sue do the Fireman wearing her sex kitten leopard ears and tail. Unfortunately, the furry accents never made it out of the package.

All we needed for a pole-dancing grand finale was having Sue do the Fireman wearing her sex kitten leopard ears and tail. Unfortunately, the furry accents never made it out of the package. The Iron Matron troupe was way too busy trying to wrap various arms and legs around poles to think about sex. Well, almost too busy.

Pole-dancing has moved from the strip clubs to the fitness gym, but not without taking a few hip rotations and slightly suggestive snake-like moves along with it. At least they felt kinda sexy if you

didn't look in the mirror and see what you really looked like.

Pole-dancing was the debut joint adventure of the Iron Matron and five intrepid women -- Sue Emslie, Fran Harper, Jo-Anne Kern, Sandy Campbell and Deb Carnes. They're a bunch of gamers. They're also taller and thinner than I am, but I'm trying not to hold that against them. In a series of activities organized by Victoria Parks and Recreation, we started with pole-dancing, then we're on to flyfishing, pole-walking, water yoga and 50-plus boot camp (that one has pain written all over it).

Meeting for the first time around a mini forest of black steel poles mounted in a room at the Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre was a little intimidating, but we overcame it. Actually, we had a terrific time winging around our poles, and really didn't feel an overwhelming need for sequins, feathers, tassels or body paint, despite the snickering warnings of friends and family.

Sue said one of the customers at her hardware store was most distressed that a group of menopausal women was out doing pole-dancing.

That's harsh. We're not exactly over the hill, although I don't think anybody watching us would have been moved to stick money in our gym pants. Our instructor, Amy King of Den Kay Dance Studio, did suggest that performing the Frisk at stop signs tends to stop traffic.

When it comes down to it, pole-dancing is simply a fun workout, using a pole. For sure, its history delves into the erotic and exotic. Pagan rituals, the Maypole, burlesque queens gyrating around the centre poles of vaudeville tents, modern strippers, lap dancers -- some think the pole is some kind of a phallic symbol. I just thought it was slippery. Next time I'll take a resin bag.

Apparently, the modern incarnation of pole-dancing as a fitness tool began around 1980 in Canada, possibly Vancouver. It has definitely struck a chord, especially with women who are maybe ready for something that makes them feel both fit and feminine.

In Wikipedia, pole-dancing is defined as: "a form of dancing/gymnastics that takes muscular endurance and co-ordination as well as sensuality."

Fran said every muscle in her body ached by the next night, and I concurred. Pole-dancing is said to target core and upper body strength.

I'm assuming the sensual part comes later in the hot tub.

At our session, we started with stretching, then Amy showed us how to grip the pole. Letting go, and turning the Star into a meteorite crashing to Earth, wasn't really an option. We took it slow, concentrating on doing things like a chest-first, butt out swimming motion up from a squat.

That pole is a godsend when your knees give out.

We did the Frisk, a twirl or two, and about eight moves all together. Amy said it's possible to master 10 levels of difficulty, each with multiple moves, such as the Ballerina and Peter Pan. Not ready to be Wendys, we finished up with the Fireman. The idea is to build up momentum, and jump onto the pole, clinching your legs around it before sliding provocatively back to Earth.

I thought I did this quite well, although only being about a foot off the floor to begin with, my slide was pretty quick.

All in all, we had a great time. Jo-Anne said the laughter was "medicinal," and thought it would be fun for a bunch of friends. Amy does sessions for birthdays and stagettes. Sandy loved it, and Deb, our resident poet, had this to say:

The Star, the Fireman's pole, the Frisk,

For those of you who say tsk tsk

I think you too should give it a whirl.

Pole dancing's a blast says this Iron Girl.

Our instructor's so graceful she's like a gazelle.

And me? Much more hippo-like, but what the hell?

It's fun and it's funky.

I know you're all jealous.

And now onto flyfishing, just like the fellas.

You too can discover pole-dancing. To join the fun, e-mail Victoria Parks and Rec at: outdoorpursuits@victoria.ca.

Watch for the next instalment of Sharie Epp's Iron Matron on Nov. 19.