Huffing and puffing on treadmill in baggy tees doesn’t fit your picture of the perfect workout? How about sweating it out in stilettos while sculpting sexy limbs and abs to hot music?

Perhaps that’s the reason why pole and burlesque dancing have been attracting a steady stream of women looking to improve their fitness, flexibility and have some fun at the same time.

Poles Apart

Pole and burlesque dancing are trading up the seedy image of lap dancing clubs and heading their way as a serious exercise to respectable dance studios and gyms.

As hard evidence, SKIN writer, Emily Wong, witnessed many hard core-muscled women and surprise, surprise…men from all walks of life (that includes professionals and doctors), different countries, age groups and sizes, displaying their remarkable strength, flexibility, grace and unabashed sensuality on stage at the recent Singapore Pole Challenge 2012.

“It is an exciting and creative form of exercise cum entertainment for all ages and all levels of dance experience. It combines many fun aspects: from great costumes, a variety of music, and dance. And it’s a sexy alternative to the gym,” says Rodney James, renowned Burlesque instructor and judge for this pole dancing competition.

As an exercise, pole dancing works practically on every muscle you’ve got – some you might not have realised were present before – but especially the core and upper body muscles. It trains incredible flexibility and jogs up your cardiovascular fitness at the same time as well.

“All dancers have strong core muscles and a high level of fitness, and there is no reason why all women cannot engage in these activities to gain the same. Pole dancing works the core and upper body strength in time with inspiring music. Half an hour working on a pole is like running 10kms.”

Swinging Confidence

And it might be much more than fitness benefits that you can reap from spinning round on a pole.

We know any form of physical exercise has a positive mental effect due to the endorphins (“feel good” chemicals) released during the activity. But many practising pole dancing report a major self-esteem boost.

First up, it’s not difficult to imagine the tremendous amount of confidence a person must have in herself to swing life and limb in mid-air, or to dangle oneself on a slippery metal pole with just one knee in the first place. With a toned up bod to boot, anyone should feel proud and good about themselves. This positive outlook often extends well beyond the classroom as they gain a sense of control and mastery over other life’s challenges that might swirl their way.

“The most important part of Burlesque classes and pole lessons is the empowerment women and men feel – the great achievement from mastering tricks and expressing the body through a dance that is engaging and fun,” says Rodney.

Indeed, many women find opportunities like these to celebrate their femininity openly and the process of channeling one’s inner sex kitten both liberating and empowering. “[As an instructor, it’s amazing to] watch shy timid women grow, and seeing their personality shine through in just 90 minutes.”

And Rodney’s Top Tip to Help You Stay on the Pole…


Rodney James Syaranamual, or more lovingly known as “Mr Burlesque”, is an internationally renowned Burlesque dance instructor. Check out his sexy fitness DVD, the “Burlesque Beat”.