Ten years ago pole was still firmly attached to gentlemen’s clubs. It was just gaining popularity as a fitness activity. Now, with a large (and growing) number of participants, male and female there is a push to have pole accepted as an Olympic sport.
Some people are strongly in favor of it, saying that being an Olympic sport would reduce the knee-jerk reaction of people who solely associate pole with the sex industry. Individuals who are in favor of having pole be accepted as an Olympic sport also believe that this will lead to standardization in trick names, technique, and scoring. Currently, a lot of names are regionally based- one person’s outside leg hang is another person’s Gemini, by having names standardized a lot of confusion could be eliminated.
No one who knows anything about pole dancing for fitness denies that pole demands a lot of time, dedication, strength and flexibility. One hope that people have if pole is accepted as an Olympic event, is that others will see and respect the amount of training, time, and effort that goes into performing and competing at the advanced or elite level.
Pole dancers who are opposed to the idea of pole becoming an Olympic event cite concerns that pole would then become the arena of super flexible teenagers- effectively eliminating the women who pioneered the activity outside of strip clubs from participation. Another thing that those opposed to pole being adopted as an Olympic sport are concerned about is potentially losing the dance and artistry that is becoming more common in pole.
When watching an elite pole competition a lot of the athlete performers are not only incredibly strong and flexible, they are also amazing story tellers.
Some well-known polers and studio owners have also weighed in with their thoughts.
Dakota Fox of Arcadia Fitness in North Carolina says:
I am sort of torn with the idea of pole going Olympian… I love that it is getting more exposure and more accepted by mainstream society, however at the same time I love that pole as it is now is mainly for the “everyday” woman. That is a special connection and journey that may be lost if pole transitions to a primarily competitive sport… however, pole is so multi-faceted and can adapt to so many styles, hopefully there will be room for all the different types of poles and a studio for each type of poler will be out there!
Amber Cahill of TGR Fitness in Iowa states:
Pole fitness requires strength, agility, endurance, flexibility and a lot of training. In my book, that makes it a sport. Personally, I would be thrilled to see it added as an Olympic event for many reasons. For one, it gives athletes a venue in front of the world to show what our sport is REALLY about and thus, removing the stigma associated with pole dancing. An opportunity to educate an attentive audience. Even more personally, I feel that it would bring our competition and judging system into the forefront of our community. As a competitor, it can be highly frustrating to receive or not receive an award when judging style, points and comments vary drastically. Developing a system, code of points and training for all judges would be a requirement for the Olympics and a great help to competitors of all levels.
JenI Janover of Liquid Motion states:
I have very mixed feeling about it from a personal stand point. Personally for me that is not what draws me to pole dancing, but there are many people who love the sport element of it. For them it’s a great thing. There should be a place for everybody to showcase their love of pole dancing weather it’s creative, sensual, in the clubs, and yes even the Olympics. As long as we can all respect the different kinds of pole dancing then we will be great.
Cleo The Hurricane:
Jenni O’Connor of Studio Phoenix in Illinois believes:
I feel it would be an honor to have Pole Fitness be an Olympic sport. It would go a long way toward having non-polers see Pole as a legitimate sport, and giving it respect as such. I think it will also help us as a community standardize moves and competition requirements, which can only improve us. Many dancers I know are concerned about getting away from our roots and losing the sensuality of pole. But I see no reason why both athleticism and sensuality can’t be embraced. In competitions I often see sensual pole, athletic pole and lyrical pole all performed in the same division… And sometimes in the same routine! They’re not mutually exclusive.
Pole dance is evolving as a sport, as a hobby, and as an art. Change is inevitable in anything that is going to stay current. As with gymnastics and dancing there are new tricks or choreography developed all the time, some of these tricks focus on flexibility others on strength, while choreography can incorporate all of those while adding musicality etc.
In my naïve opinion- I hope there is room for everyone. Pole can be something different for different people. It can be part of a Cirque Du Soliel performance, it can also be a sexy performance, and it can be gymnastic endeavor. I believe the biggest disservice we can do is limit what pole can be. I would hate to see pole as a whole lose the sensual side, the artistic side, or the athletic side.