Pole dancing has long been dismissed as a form of provocative, sexy entertainment with no place outside seedy strip clubs. Groups of determined enthusiasts are trying to shake this bad reputation and take the sport to a whole new stage: the Olympics.
Watch this video of a training session with Cardiff University Pole Dancing Society to see just how hard and impressive the sport really is.
Lauren Sweeney, President of Cardiff University Pole dance society said: “There are serious steps being taken to have pole dancing recognised as an Olympic sport.”
“We are really careful within the society to not portray ourselves as anything other than a large group of people partaking in a sport and a group exercise. In the broader pole community there are measures being taken to reduce the stigma.”
Pole dancing lessons with Cardiff University are run in blocks of 5 week classes, giving individuals the opportunity to really improve their strength, flexibility, co-ordination, confidence and self-esteem.
In addition to the pole classes, the society also offers a number of free fitness classes to compliment pole dancing.
The International Pole Sport Federation is one of the leading forces behind the Olympic effort. The organisation’s president, Tim Trautman, says the main obstacle to people treating pole dancing as a legitimate sport is the enduring stereotype that it is something only erotic dancers do. He said: “We want people to see that they are watching athletes.”
A petition circulated by an association of pole-fitness competitors to get pole dancing included in the Olympic Games was rejected by the International Olympic Committee. Undaunted, supporters are making another push for 2016.
Watch this video from the 2012 International Pole Dancing Championship: