Our Spring magazine is finally here! Click here to view and read our new articles!

Strength, Flexibility, Grace: York University Pole Exercise Society

Source: Bayan Mall
Source: Bayan Mall
Source: Bayan Mall


There are different exercise or food trends every year. 2016 has been the year of the avocado and the rise of boxing exercise; 2015, the year of kale and pole exercise. Despite perhaps being a year late to this exercise trend, pole exercise is still a great way to get that killer body!

Pole exercise has always been an experience that I have wanted to partake in, ever since a friend raved about the wonders it did to her fitness. Attending a session with York University Pole Exercise Society (YUPE) seemed initially like a daunting prospect: it’s recommended to wear short-shorts and is held in James Dining Hall. I kept having images of my tummy fat rolls on full display to the whole of university campus had put me off!

I needn’t have worried: upon arriving there (after several days of lots of crunches), I quickly forgot about the prospect of being seen. The sessions are held in the evening therefore, I was unable to see anyone outside of the windows. Above all, everyone was friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic to see a newbie try out their sport.

First of all, we were split into two groups. The first group, containing myself, had the first go on the three poles provided by the club, whilst the second group worked on fitness. Our group was further split and assigned each to a pole. This ensured that we were able to be taught personally and have enough time to practice the moves thoroughly.  I was taught that my dominant hand, i.e. my writing hand, is the hand that goes above my head supporting me. As tempting as it was to get a running start around the pole, it made it a lot trickier to coordinate myself. From from the epitome of poise and grace, my feet were flexed and waving around, my legs askew and I most certainly was wearing my serious concentration face. This was quickly remedied with personal advice and I swiftly got the hang of it! I never realized how much strength and awareness you needed. I tried a range of moves starting from a fireman basic, to a fireman crossed, a forward hook, a chair and an altitude heel, some of which are shown below.

94a3647e-7371-45af-a1e7-9d688c313546      31df0ab6-6779-473e-9b35-6180d82c05ea     0f45754d-bb45-4770-d359-8a1df502a6d8

The Chair.                                                     The Fireman.                                                 The Forward Hook.

Photo Credit: poledancingschool

The most difficult aspect to the dancing itself bizarrely was the pain on my skin on the pole. The club warns you prior to the session to avoid moisturizing for 24 hours so that you can grip with your arms and legs. The following morning however, there were a number of bruises along my thighs and ankles. These were the main areas of contact with the pole. I have definitely learnt to respect pole dancers with respect; to glide around with poise, elegance and above all, a smile is incredible.

The most inspiring feature of the session was watching a fellow friend and pole exercise enthusiast, Sarah Ng, demonstrate and ace a series of complicated moves. Sarah completed a variety of intermediate and advanced moves. She showcased a variety of inverts, pikes, attitudes, splits- most of which in a running combination. It was clear that with strength and determination, pole exercise was a rewarding hobby. You can set yourself individuals moves as motivating goals; Sarah was attempting her next move, the full flag, at the session I attended.

Pole exercise faces a multitude of stigmas, one of which being that the exercise is solely for women. This is definitely not the case and YUPE encourages men to join the club.  One of the society committee members is male and taught throughout the session. Many gym fanatics aim towards being able to pull off the iconic flagpole, horizontally planking at a right angle to the pole. This is a pole dancing move fundamentally requiring a strong core and upper body strength. A huge achievement and testament to hard work and peak physical fitness, like the majority of of pole dancing moves.

YUPE holds weekly sessions on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons at James Dining Hall.