Long gone are the days of strippers dominating poles. As thousands of classes are offered all over the country, pole dancing has managed to slip itself from a sexual taboo to a legitimate sport shared by groups of passionate students. With the U.S. Pole Dance Federation hosting nationwide competitions and competitors being recruited by gyms across the country, it’s clear that pole dancing, the sport, is not a simple dip and twist that anyone can master.

A graduate of Brown University, Registered Nurse, and practicing vegan, Gabrielle Valliere proves that competitive pole dancers are diverse in background, shape, and size. After dancing five years as a NFL cheerleader, she tried a pole dancing class six years ago and simply fell in love. As Valliere has been dancing since the age of three, she quickly excelled in the sport and became a pole dance instructor in 2005. Now living in New York, she teaches at New York Pole Dancing and has competed in numerous competitions with the U.S. Pole Dance Federation.

“Pole dancing is a great workout because it encompasses so many things – resistance training and toning, cardio, flexibility, balance and stability, and coordination…many things you do work against gravity and are weight bearing, so it’s good for your bones,” explains Valliere, 2nd place titleholder of the 2011 U.S. Pole Dance National Pro Championship, “many women leave class telling me they worked muscles they never even knew they had.”

As pole dancing targets the abdominals, back, and shoulders, it hits several trouble spots for many women. Not to mention, it can help with that area of flesh that bulges over and under the bra. While the sport primarily builds upper body strength, it also gives your legs a workout, challenging your balance and stability as you walk around the platform in heels.

Although many women feel intimidated and reluctant to sign up for a pole dancing class, the workout is incomparable and frankly, more fun than traditional exercise. Not only does pole dancing effectively work numerous muscles in your body, but also it builds confidence. In the words of Valliere, “throwing yourself off balance and doing something outside of your comfort zone can make you more confident and effective in other aspects of your life.”

As a pole dancer and instructor, Valliere practices what she preaches, taking another genre of dance or an unfamiliar physical challenge to re-instill empathy for her students. It allows her to reflect and look back on moments in which she was scared to death and relying on a stranger to help her learn something new. She concludes that pole dancing, while intimidating at first, can transform those moments of fear into clarity and confidence.

In terms of nutrition, Valliere swears by her vegan lifestyle and recommends quinoa, different kinds of rice with protein, and homemade soups as energy boosters for class. While working, she also munches on raw nuts or eats a good ol’ fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich on multigrain bread. But like anyone else, she’ll enjoy vegan ice cream or a glass of wine during her non-teaching hours. A well-balanced lifestyle is part of her world everyday, not to mention her practice of Bikram yoga for mental and spiritual health.

If anything above sounds appealing, perhaps, you’re ready for a workout and lifestyle change that will positively impact your health. Celebrate Frugivore Month by taking a pole dancing class. Or if you’re already a student, share your experience!

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  1. I walked into a pole studio a little under two years ago and pretty much never left. It has absolutely changed my life. Never before have I been so focused on what my body can DO rather than what it looks like. I feel it get stronger and more flexible and THAT is what makes me feel good, not the size of my jeans. Pole dancing put my mucles to work and I could not be happier. The pole dancing community is a unique and open-minded group of the most supportive and encouraging women I’ve ever met. I recently completed (and won!) my first competition and plan to do more in the future. I feel confident, capable and beautiful in so may aspects of my life. I even hold my head higher. I could go on and on with this love letter to pole dancing, but if you get yourself into a studio you’ll know right away what I mean 🙂

  2. Thank you Arielle Loren! You’re dead right, pole dancing IS a sport and it’s becoming more and more respected in the modern world. I look back now and I cannot believe that I felt I had to hide my pole dancing from my work colleagues and in-laws. All pole dancers should be proud of their hard work and dedication to the sport and revel in the confidence that it brings. My first insight into pole dancing was when a new studio opened locally and I went to have a peek. I recall watching in awe the ‘experienced’ ladies on the practice poles and how they fearlessly defied gravity with their strength and technique – they made it look so easy and seamless. A month later I apprehensively attended my first pole class. There I met a group of ordinary women, much like myself, looking for something different. Little did we know of the imminent love affair we would find for the sport and the never ending physical challenges that were to come. Initially, we sported some impressive bruises – bruises that we were almost proud of! Within 3 months (1 class a week) we were all seeing physical changes to our bodies, trimming down, toning up and generally becoming more flexible. Within 6 months we were already starting to look back on the short journey that was full of personal success and we all had a newfound pride in ourselves for our achievements thus far. Now, just 18 months on, we are the girls that new people watch on the practice poles and wonder how we make it look so easy! It’s incredible how much you can achieve in such a short amount of time, and we’re all so proud of our journey. The Talent Shows on TV have dramatically decreased the stigma attached to pole dancing and we all hope to see it recognised as an Olympic sport in the near future. Stigma be gone! No more hiding from the sport that we love so much. Hats off to my fellow pole dancers! Kathryn, Australia

  3. My name is Lisa, I am a company director at Exquisite Charms Ltd based in the UK. We specialise in charms depicting elegant pole dancers. We are currently offering the Butterfly and Superman pose and will be introducing new poses in the new year. We are also able to offer a fantastic commision to advertisers and also a great discount to Pole schools that bulk order our items and sell direct to their students. We have received a lot of interest from customers based in the USA and Canada, and we are looking to expand our advertising to these parts. Please could you advise us of your advertising rates please. If you would like to look at the items we are able to offer, you can visit our website http://www.exquisitepoledancingcharms.com/ for examples of our work. We are also more than willing to provide you with an articlle giving some background information about our company and our products if this is what you require.

    Many thanks for your time,

  4. My daughter is a pole instructor and a yoga instructor. She advocates for the competitive side of this sport. While many people have moved on from the dark and accepted this difficult and healthy acitivity as a choice for exercise, some have not. To those people I can only urge them to view some of the video’s and to make an unbiased conclusion. Pole dancing is a modern way of conditioning the body to its fullest potential.

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