Working a Pole: Women are Turning to Pole Dance for Fitness

Is pole dance the workout we all have been waiting for? 

Flex 'em
4 min read

Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Camera: Abhishek Ranjan


Stereotypes around pole dancing have existed for far too long. It’s often considered to be something that strippers do in nightclubs.

But some Indian women are smashing such narrow understandings of the art form and redefining it for themselves.

With Jacqueline Fernandez in A Gentleman and Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers, pole dance is picking up steam. In the latest trend pole dancing is being recognised as an effective form of fitness.

Vesna Pericevic Jacob, founder of Vesna's Alta Celo and a pole fitness trainer told FIT,

“I started using a pole exclusively as a physical instrument or a tool to improve my upper body and core strength. Then I started applying elements of pilates on the pole. And I found it to be fantastic as strength and fitness come together. And this is what I have been teaching for the last few years.”
Vesna Pericevic Jacob, founder of Vesna’s Alta Celo

Pole Fitness is an extension of pole dancing that uses the pole as a piece of versatile equipment. Vesna adds, “Usually people challenge their bodies horizontally or you do things on the ground. But pole allows to challenge body vertically.”

Bosnia-born, Vesna is a renowned pilates trainer and has been teaching it in India for 17 years. Recently she opened up her studio for pole fitness classes. While she looks at the strength and conditioning part, Tania Sudan a pole dance trainer looks at the dance side of it.

Vesna Jacob and Tania Sudan are Delhi-based pole fitness trainers. 
Vesna Jacob and Tania Sudan are Delhi-based pole fitness trainers. 
(Photo: Instagram/Tania Sudan)

After trying other formats of workout such as running and hitting the gym and quitting them, Tania found her answer in pole fitness.

Tania Sudan is a Delhi-based pole trainer. She takes pole dance classes at Vesna Alta Celo.
Tania Sudan is a Delhi-based pole trainer. She takes pole dance classes at Vesna Alta Celo.
(Photo: Instagram/Tania Sudan)
“My health had fallen apart. My vitamin D became really low and so my cervical got really bad as well. I got blocked and felt like, okay now that I’ve had so many issues witch my body, I don’t even know if I want to push myself to work out. Because, even if I did join the gym or started running, I knew I would quit it. Because I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it.”
Tania Sudan, Pole Fitness Trainer 

After six to seven classes of pole dance, she could see her strength building up – her body was responding. She was eating and sleeping better. Seeing these positive changes, she decided to stick to it and see where it goes.

“I got a pole in my room. Now, since February, everyday for at least three hours a day I have been dancing. And I have never felt fitter in my life ever. This year, especially, I decided why not teach this art form,” Tania said.

Benefits of Pole Fitness

“I cannot find one single thing that is not involved. Your arms will get a lot of work –fore arm, upper arm, shoulders, back, core. It’s awesome for the core. Then you need to have strong legs, a strong grip, strong holds. Ankles, glutes. I mean it is pretty much a whole body workout all the time.”
Vesna Pericevic Jacob

Your Size or Shape Does Not Matter

The pole as a fitness equipment is intimidating at first. It looks easier than it is. But when one looks beyond the falls, chaffing of thighs and bruises, many find it extremely rewarding. Another inhibition that people face is related to the attire.

One needs maximum skin exposure to get a better grip in order to stay longer on the pole. This means your work out attire is shorts and a sports bra.

“In the beginning, there is a bit of hiding and a little bit of trying to say, ‘Oh, please I can’t wear this. How can I be in something really short? Can I please stay in my tights? I’ll be fine, I promise.’ You know, stuff like that. And we just kind of go and say all sizes and shapes are welcome, are beautiful,” Vesna said.

She adds,

“It’s ridiculous how much pressure there is. And why would we be looking at bodies like that. We should be looking at bodies like: are you capable to do this? Or you are not capable to do this at this point of time in doing that. That’s it. Nothing else matters.”

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