We Tried This: Pole Dancing
7 things first-timers should know before going pole dancing.
Editors’ note: The HONOLULU Magazine staff is always excited to try new things. With this new web series, we bring you activities we tried for the first time—a new one every fourth Wednesday of the month.
Katrina and Brittney with, from left, goddess guides Ashley Petersen, Danielle Gosiaco, Gina Ogitani and Jamie Ernestberg.
Photo: Diane Lee
Let’s get this straight: pole dancing has a bad connotation, but it’s not just about stripping. It can be, but pole dancing can also be an excellent way to tone your body, gain strength and bring out your feminine side all in one workout. We sent web producer Brittney Nitta-Lee and associate editor Katrina Valcourt to an intro class at Fit for a Goddess to see how they liked it.
Right off the bat, we can tell you that pole dancing, or pole fitness, does not have to be sexual. But at Fit for a Goddess, you’re encouraged to express your sexuality as a form of female empowerment.
The class, led by owner Gina Ogitani and two other “goddess guides,” Jamie Ernestberg and Danielle Gosiaco, started out with everyone sitting in a circle and saying their names, how they heard about the studio and an interesting fact about themselves, to help us get to know and feel safe with each other. Then we went through a series of stretches to warm up, practicing graceful movements and some cheeky stuff, too. After a quick break, we launched into our “goddess glides”—walking in imaginary high heels with good posture and a bit of swag.
Three girls shared each pole for some basic moves: goddess gliding with one hand on the pole, doing some sexy turns, followed by some moves against the wall. We returned to the pole to finish with the “butterfly,” where you cross one leg over the pole, tuck the other behind, reach up high and swing around and down.
Photo: Diane Lee
1. WHY DID WE GO?
Brittney: I wanted to try something new. It looked like a challenge. It’s something that I would never do alone.
Katrina: Brittney made me. I’ve heard of pole fitness before and it looked intense, but I figured a beginners’ class could be fun. And it would make for a good story!
2. WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED?
Pole fitness strengthens your core, legs, glutes, triceps and more. When we went, there were 17 goddesses, many of whom wanted to try something exciting and out of their comfort zones. No men are allowed, since it’s about female empowerment and creating a safe space with other goddesses.
3. WHAT TO WEAR
You take off your shoes when you enter the studio. The intro class was all about the basics, so yoga pants are fine, since they help you glide around the pole more easily (you need to wear shorts in more advanced courses if you want to climb). Ogitani wore legwarmers, which could be helpful when practicing the butterfly. It’s all about being comfortable, but remember, if you want to play with your shirt or your hair, dress accordingly!
4. WHEN TO GO
Fit for a Goddess offers a variety of classes, but newbies have to take the introductory class first. We recommend checking the schedule each month to see when classes are available.
5. WHERE IS IT
It’s located on Ward Avenue across from Sports Authority and Ross, above Supercuts. Enter on the left side of the building and go up the stairs.
6. HOW WE FELT (BEFORE & AFTER)
Brittney: I was really excited when I first heard about pole dancing. I dragged Katrina along to try it out. I didn’t know what to expect, so I was nervous and my hands were sweating. I actually had anxiety the night before.
Katrina: I was pretty nervous, too. I’m not very athletic, so there was already the fear of not being able to keep up. I don’t like not being good at things. Plus, I didn’t exactly love the idea of trying to be sexy in front of a lot of people, and we were going to be doing who knows what on that pole. Potentially very embarrassing. I wanted a workout, though.
Brittney: For two days my body hurt. I worked out muscles that I never use. I felt empowered, for sure. When you think of pole dancing, you think of exotic dancing. There were a few moves that were uncomfortable to do in front of strangers (booty bumping the pole or love taps while stretching). But the ice breaker in the beginning makes you feel like you are in a safe circle. Surprisingly, I did not sweat, which was nice.
Katrina: It was a lot of fun, but I definitely need more practice. Some things felt awkward, like when we were leaning against the mirror rotating our hips. It hurt to lift my arms afterward and, for the next two days, my whole body was sore. Even my armpits.
7. WOULD WE GO AGAIN?
Brittney: I would go again. I want to try the next class, which seems like more of a workout. I am open to trying the other classes that Fit For a Goddess offers, such as yoga for polers.
Katrina: I’m not sure. I liked working out different muscles that I don’t normally use, but I felt a bit self-conscious. It was also my first group class, and I usually prefer to do my own thing, at my own pace. But I do want to work on my flexibility and core strength and master that butterfly!
Don’t put any lotions or oils on your body the day you go, or the pole will be slippery.
If you’re uncomfortable with expressing (mild) sexuality, this is not the class for you, but learning to be sexy is also a reason many people take the class.
Bring your own yoga mat, or you can rent one from the studio for $1.
Bring water and a towel.
Come in with an open mind. If there’s ever a place to try something out of your comfort zone, it’s with a supportive group of goddesses and skilled instructors.
It’s better to go with a friend so you feel less awkward. Neither one of us would’ve gone alone.
Be prepared to take more than one class before you find your groove. Even though it’s an hour-and-a-half class, it goes by quickly with not a lot of time to practice your moves.
Stretch or do yoga regularly. Being flexible helps a lot.
It’s called pole dancing, so be prepared to go with the music!