Dig Baton Rouge

Pole Position

Spontaneous dancing is encouraged

I am about as graceful as a baby giraffe. Pole dancing fitness was never (I mean never) something I had the urge to try and not something I thought I would be the slightest bit good at. In fact, I was almost certain my efforts would result in a broken something and a bruised ego. Well, as it is now a new year, I decided to try something different and who would have guessed, it was actually a blast!

I took a friend, Elizabeth, for moral support and giggles. We headed to TWRL Baton Rouge, which is conveniently located off Perkins and College.  The studio looks like an open warehouse, giving bungee and pole classes plenty of space to move around. Owner, Babs Spano, who also teaches the bungee fitness class, greeted us with a smile and explained why she got into pole dancing fitness.

“I wanted a way to get fit, have fun, and feel sexy all at the same time. I started pole in 2012 and fell in love. It got me in the best shape of my life,” said Spano.

Spano is also a massage therapist and registered nurse with extensive knowledge about exercise physiology so she knows what’s best for the body. As the rest of the class funneled in, they echoed her enthusiasm and it felt more like a group of friends than an exercise class. 

We took an evening class, which lasted an hour.  It started with a stretch and a lite warm-up of jumping jacks and lunges. The tone was pretty informal, as everyone chatted away about their day. Each person then picked a pole and covered their hands in this chalk-like substance that keeps you from slipping. Then the lesson began. Those who had been attending for a while started at their level while the instructor showed the newbies the basics. We worked at our own pace.

The first move was the “chair” aka me hanging on to dear life as I swirled around and around with my knees tucked in. For those who aren’t familiar, the pole rotates, so when you lunge into a move with all your body weight (not advisable), you are on an instant merry go round. Fear not: they get you to do the moves on both sides. We then graduated to “the martini”, which made me feel way more Dita von Teese than Ailsa von D. I was getting into the groove.

We progressed to combos as the expert section of the class practiced their upside down maneuvers around us. It felt more like Cirque du Soleil than a club for the majority of the class, only getting saucy at the end when they turned the music up, the lights down, and some attendees brought sky-high heels to practice in.

“I felt unexpectedly empowered,” said my friend Elizabeth. I second that emotion.

We left the class knowing we had a great workout that didn’t feel like work. I still feel sore a couple of days later and have multiple bruises, but would 100% go again and bring friends.  It isn’t just about mastering the moves, which I was semi-successful at by the end of the class, it is about making them look elegant and effortless. This will take time and many sessions but for a baby giraffe in 2018, anything is possible.

Photos by Amber Law

Ailsa von Dobeneck

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