UPDATE: This post was written when Jonessa was teaching out of her studio in Biddeford. She’s since moved the business to Cornish.
I know, I know. I say “pole dancing” and your noggin conjures up images of strip clubs and plastic stilettos. There’s no denying that’s what pole dancing has historically looked like – and still looks like in venues around the world.
But pole dancing – a combination of dance and seriously impressive acrobatics done on a vertical pole – has found it’s way into fitness studios, too.
Much like popular circus arts like aerial silks, trapeze, and Chinese pole, pole dancing (or pole fitness, as it’s often called) requires strength, flexibility, endurance, and a bit of panache to make it all look so graceful. Learning the art translates into a solid workout that’s equal parts strength training and cardiovascular fitness.
Depending on the class, the focus can be mostly on the acrobatics – climbs, inversions, spins, and drops – or include more dance-based choreography. And yes, it can be sexy, too.
Here in Maine, instructor Jonessa Ramos teaches pole at her studio, 207 Pole Fitness in Biddeford.
Tucked inside a renovated mill building, the 207 Pole Fitness studio is an intimate space with wood floors and big windows. The room is equipped with four poles, which means class sizes are generally small and intimate, too (although she also hosts plenty of larger groups and bachelorette parties).
For Jonessa, it’s all about creating a welcoming, upbeat, and safe environment to learn something new (and something that’s perhaps out of your comfort zone). She’s a talented and experienced dancer herself (starting out with hip hop, break dancing and figure skating when she was young, then moving on to circus arts like Chinese pole, lyra, aerial straps, partner acrobatics, and hand-balancing as an adult.). She discovered pole fitness a few years ago during a class at Boston Pole Fitness, fell in love straight away, and decided to bring pole fitness back to Maine with her.
She’s wildy good at it. AND a thoughtful instructor who really does make you feel welcome and confident, even if your strut feels awkward or your current level of core strength is on par with a throw pillow. (I speak from experience here.)
Creating that environment, she says, is the whole point.
“The artistry of pole fitness is something I want to share with other women,” she writes on her website. “Enlightening people about pole fitness and breaking the stigmas that revolve around it is what I aspire to do. Building a community that is supportive, body positive and nurturing is my commitment. I want you to feel amazing about your body and yourself, feel a sense of power, self-confidence and beauty from the inside out.”
Classes range from beginner to intermediate, and all fitness levels are welcome. And while performing some of those impressive moves – like the bendy diva dive or batman – won’t happen on your first class, you can still learn some cool basics, like spins, transitions, and choreography. (See more moves on poledancedictionary.com.)
Classes are also an opportunity to explore body movement and sensuality – from struts to “sexy pushups” – especially for those of us who are convinced, “yea, my body doesn’t move that way.” I’ll admit, my movements during that first class where ungraceful and clunky, but I still had a great time learning spins and choreography and pushing my comfort zone a bit. This is the perfect space to do that.
Credit: @Fit Maine
And if you’re feeling bold and want to give a higher-level move a try, Jonessa can help. There’s time after class to practice and experiment, and Jonessa is there to spot and support you – or help give you a lift if you need help getting into that inversion.
Whether you’re simply curious or you want an ongoing workout that’ll strengthen your muscles and encourage you to get in touch with your inner sultriness (or at least have a really fun time trying), sign up for a beginner class. Group classes (typically four people) are $25, and private and semi-private classes are available, too. See the schedule.
“207 Pole Fitness will provide a homey environment where you can feel comfortable, tone your bodies and build self-confidence!”
Check out this video of Jonessa:
207 Pole Fitness
2 Main Street, Biddeford
pole207fitness.squarespace.com and www.facebook.com/207PoleFitness
Group classes (typically four people) are $25, and private and semi-private classes are available, too. See the complete schedule and pricing.