Pole Fitness Explained: Benefits of Pole Dancing for Your Body

Have you ever wondered how pole fitness could change your body? That’s a great question! And if you’re looking at adding pole fitness to your exercise routine or looking into signing up for pole classes, it’s a great question to be asking. 

More than just a fad, pole dancing has taken the fitness world by storm and has grown in popularity in the last few years. Part of this is due to the incredible social media coverage pole athletes have attained. The hashtag #polefitness will show you eye-catching posts of strong men and women from all over the world performing intricate and skilled routines on vertical poles.

Beyond just looking great, feeling confident and capturing post-worthy photos, how does pole fitness change your body? With regular training, pole fitness can help you tone your muscles, lose weight and gain flexibility. Pole dancing is also an excellent opportunity to learn a new skill and have fun. 

Along with other dance fitness workouts, like Zumba and Konga, pole fitness studios are now a popular way to work out. 

Ready to make moves on the pole? Read on and see how pole dancing can benefit your body.

What is Pole Fitness? 

Pole fitness has evolved dramatically over time. In its modern form, pole dancing is well known as a fun form of fitness training as well as adult entertainment. Pole dancing has gained momentum as a mainstream fitness class for all ages since the early 2000s. 

But did you know that pole dancing takes its roots back from as far back as the 12th century? Acrobatic performances on a vertical pole was a well-known form of entertainment in India and China:

  • In India, they considered the routine a traditional sport called Mallakhamb. Male athletes would perform acrobatic and yoga-inspired tricks on a wooden pole.
  • In China, acrobats and pole performers would climb, leap and weave in theatrics between 2 poles up to 20 feet high.

Pole dancing has its historical roots as both an art form and sport that requires strength, agility and stamina. In modern times,  pole dancing is slowly shedding its association with adult entertainment and is even being petitioned as a future Olympic sport. 

Is Pole Dancing a Good Workout?

Yes, pole fitness provides a full-body workout. Mastering pole dancing moves can help you strengthen and move multiple muscles simultaneously.

But what makes pole fitness a good workout? Here are four health benefits of pole dancing

1. Promotes cardiovascular health.

Even for beginners, pole dancing routines incorporate movement of the whole body, keeping your heart rate up and making it a challenging physical activity that keeps your cardiovascular health in tip-top shape.

Moderate to intense movement or physical activity for up to 2 and a half hours per week is excellent for your heart and reduces the risk of life-threatening diseases.

Typically, each pole fitness class begins with a cardio component that warms up the body and prepares it for more intense physical routines, tricks, transitions, inversions and spins.

2. Increases upper body strength & flexibility.

Even if you join pole classes with little upper body strength or flexibility to begin with, you will soon build it up as you learn new pole routines. Similar to adult gymnastics, pole fitness classes can greatly improve flexibility and muscle strength. 

Pole dancing moves require you to lift your body and hold your weight for extended periods on a pole without foot-holds or any other supports of any sort. 

This might seem impossible to achieve to anyone who hasn’t tried pole dancing. Still, many experienced pole fitness instructors know that even the most inexperienced pole dancers quickly gain strength and flexibility.

In addition, being flexible can sometimes just seem like a useless skill. But while being flexible is something very cool to show off (especially on the pole), it offers several health benefits like reducing risks to muscle injury and minimising soreness.

3. Boosts mental health and confidence.

As Elle Woods of Legally Blonde said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy” – and that is scientifically true

According to J. Kip Matthews, a sport and exercise psychologist, “When your body comes under stress or experiences pain, neurochemicals called endorphins are produced in the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland”. 

Endorphins are considered natural painkillers and are structured similarly to morphine. Other than minimising discomfort when performing strenuous workouts, endorphins can also elicit feelings of euphoria and well-being.

When the release of endorphins is combined with healthy physical changes and the sense of accomplishment pole dancers feel when they’ve finally perfected a new technique, self-esteem increases immensely.

4. Helps you develop healthier joints, muscles, bones and connecting tissue.

As we age, our bones and muscles may not be as strong as they once were, especially with women who are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis.

Because pole dancing puts less stress on your joints compared to running or high impact fitness classes, it’s better for a gradual strengthening of your joints, muscle, bones and connecting tissue.

Still, proper warming up and cooling down is needed before and after your pole routines. Also, when you’re performing more advanced tricks, you’ll put a lot more stress on your shoulders and wrists, so it’s always recommended to build your strength up slowly and at your own pace.

Apart from the physical and mental benefits, pole dancing lets you become part of a supportive, tight-knit community. Depending on where you’re located, you can usually find groups online or by referral from your pole fitness centre. 

It’s also a fantastic “gateway” sport. As you advance into pole fitness, you can explore aerial fitness, silks and ropes, belly dancing, trapeze, ballet, breakdancing, gymnastics or burlesque.

What muscles do you use when pole dancing?

Pole dancing is a full-body workout – from top to toe, your muscles are worked, moved, twisted, and sometimes contorted in ways that you’ve never known before!

Here’s a quick list of muscles used when you’re doing moves on the pole:

Arms and Shoulders

While pole dancing benefits the entire body, most moves and routines are a complete upper-body workout which will require you to maneuver on the pole using your arms and therefore building strength in your triceps, biceps, forearms and shoulders. 

When you learn how to spin and climb on the pole, your upper body muscles will move simultaneously. Aside from spinning and climbing, other common moves that work your upper body would be the lift & tuck/basic invert, the hang tough or the eye opener.

Other pole fitness moves that challenge your upper body strength and endurance include shoulder mounts, handstands, superman and presses.

Back (includes deltoids & trapezius muscles)

If you’ve ever wanted a toned, sculpted and strong back, ‌climbing the pole, reclining on the pole, and kicking gives both your upper and lower back muscles a full workout. 

To avoid injury, it’s best to combine these types of moves to ensure back strength is gained proportionally.

Abdominals (Core Muscles)

A strong core and toned abs are definitely something you can achieve with pole fitness. Since any workout move that requires balance challenges your core, if developing rock hard abs are what you want to achieve, pole dancing should be right up your alley.

As difficult as it may look, one of the signature moves that many pole dancers show off is when they’re gracefully hanging vertically, upside down. When attempting this move, your stomach muscles “resist” which is beneficial for developing strong abs. 

Most pole moves are great core exercises, but ab pull-ups, floaters, and spinners are ideal for ab strength.


Toned legs are always a great result of pole dancing! Since many pole fitness moves require jumping, squatting and pivoting, it’s no surprise that your upper and lower legs are given a complete workout. Your hip flexors, hamstrings, calves and quads are also flexed and worked, too. 

Pole presses are ideal if toned legs are what you’re looking to achieve. Serpents, sits, icons and high kick holds are also great for a good leg workout.

Is Pole Dancing a Good Way to Lose Weight?

Like many full-body workouts, pole fitness can help you lose weight, burn fat and tone muscle. Still, it’s good to remember that you don’t have to have an hourglass figure or be a certain size or body type to start your pole dancing journey.

After all, pole dancing is all about empowerment and body positivity. That’s why the team here at Pretty Brave Fitness is all for it! 

The fact is, we’ve seen many gyms and fitness studios across Australia filled with many pole dancers of varied body types and fitness levels, yet every single one looks graceful and beautiful in their own way.

In addition, many pole fitness enthusiasts who have slimmer profiles find ‌ they’ve gained more mass than before they started pole dancing! This is because as you advance into your pole routines, you’ll gain more strength and build lean muscle. There’s no shame in being strong, and ladies of all ages can benefit from increasing their muscle mass (which often goes hand-in-hand with reducing body fat). 

Bottom line: pole dancing helps both men and women of all body types to become stronger and appear more physically fit. As you perfect your routines and feel more confident, you’ll soon realise that the numbers on the scale won’t matter. 

Does Pole Dancing Make You Bulky?

No, pole dancing does not make you “bulky” – in pole fitness, you only use and lift your own body weight. Pole fitness also burns fat and tones muscle at the same time. This helps many people continue to lose weight as they tone their muscles. 

To gain muscle mass or bulk, you typically need to focus on living heavy weights, such as in ongoing weight training sessions. Pole fitness will only increase your body mass to an amount proportional to your body as you will only lift your body weight. 

If you explore images of fellow pole dancers, you will find that few of them have become bulky as a result of pole fitness. However, you will improve muscle tone and strength in your arms, back, abs and shoulders with pole fitness. 

What Does Pole Dancing Do for Your Body Confidence?

Pole dancing is more than just how it makes you look on the outside. As you learn more skills and start perfecting some advanced maneuvers on the pole, you strengthen your body and even improve your posture. You’ll feel more confident, look at your body more positively and walk taller than you did before.

When you ‌look after your health by partaking in activities you enjoy, you feel good, too. That’s what pole dancing brings to the table. 

Aside from individual confidence, you’ll feel the solidarity of being part of a group of strong, beautiful dancers. Known to be a supportive, inclusive group, you’ll soon learn that other pole dancers will take you into the fold and encourage you to meet your goals regardless of your fitness level to start with. 

At Pretty Brave Fitness, we’re all about the benefits of training with a group of likeminded women. When you feel comfortable and accepted, ticking off your fitness goals left right and centre, there’s just no better feeling. 

How Do I Prepare My Body for Pole Dancing?

If you’re worried that you might not have the strength required to hoist your body up a pole with no support other than your bare hands, you can always prepare your body for pole dancing through complementary workouts or exercises.

However, we’d first like to dispel the myth that you must have some degree of natural strength to start with pole dancing. That simply isn’t true. While, yes, it’s a plus if you’re naturally stronger or fitter than the average person, you don’t need superhuman strength to start pole dancing.

That’s because, over time, as you’re working through your pole fitness classes and learning new routines, you will start building your strength.

Still, the following exercises and tips are awesome for complementing your pole dancing classes and speeding up your pole progress:

  • Strength training exercises like planks, squats, and deadlifts are great for conditioning your joints and muscles. Consider joining a fun functional fitness studio near you for classes that combine weight training (like kettlebells) with bodyweight exercises and cardio. 
  • Yoga classes are another great way to build strength and flexibility. If you’re already a yoga enthusiast, you’ll find your classes will help you with pole fitness, or try challenging yourself with hot yoga. If you’re new to yoga, signing up for beginner classes can boost your flexibility and strength. 
  • Pilates is also an alternative to yoga that you can also do from home. Similar to yoga, pilates can help improve posture through spine-alignment exercises. Reformer pilates adds in resistance training elements to help increase strength and prepare you for pole dancing.
  • Other exercises and body movement activities like cheerleading, belly dancing,  swimming, wall climbing and even martial arts classes are great ways to help you build the strength and endurance needed for pole dancing.

If you’re looking for a safe and fun environment to increase your fitness levels before tackling your first pole class, consider Pretty Brave Fitness. Our female-only group training gym offers strength, HIIT and mixed workout classes in a supportive environment. 

Women of all fitness levels train with us at Pretty Brave Fitness – join us for a free 14 day trial to get started! 

Pole Fitness for Beginners FAQs

Do You Have to Be Fit to Pole Dance?

No, you don’t have to be fit to start pole dancing. Many beginners have zero to minimal athletic experience. You can take additional workout classes like yoga or pilates to build your fitness levels, but it isn’t necessary. The further you go into pole dancing, the more you’ll build up your strength and fitness levels.

Is Pole Dancing a Full-Body Workout? 

Yes, pole dancing is a full-body workout.  From your shoulders to your wrists to your core down to your legs, pole dancing works your muscles from top to bottom almost always at the same time. However, depending on your fitness goals, you can focus on moves specifically to work on your core or practice routines that zone in on your legs.

Is Pole Fitness Difficult?

Pole fitness is not as hard as many of us think! The basic movements and skills you will learn in a beginner’s class will be relatively simple. Like any sport, as you progress, the skills will get more advanced, but so will your abilities. Pole fitness will not seem difficult as long as you start at a skill level suited to your fitness abilities and attend classes regularly to build your strength and skill set. 

What Should I Wear to Pole Fitness?

For pole classes, you should wear clothing that exposes as much skin as possible to allow you to grip your pole. This means wear shorts, so your thighs have the best grip, and a crop top or a singlet that doesn’t cover your arms. For many people, this may feel daunting. But don’t forget, you can always add layers for your warmup and cool-down exercises. 


This article is published for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and does not take into consideration your individual circumstances, medical conditions or abilities. Always consult a medical professional before beginning any program of exercise. A fitness industry professional can provide personalised advice to suit your needs.

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