Pole dancing and pole fitness – poles apart


The only pole fitness studio in Cairo is trying to change peoples’ perception of pole dancing.

Over the past couple of years there have been several international campaigns that have tried to clean up the shady image given to pole dancing. Today, pole dancing as a means to stay fit is called pole fitness and can be added to other exercises including Zumba, Pilates, yoga and aerobics. More and more people are turning to pole fitness because it is a great way to work out.

The Pole Fitness studio in Cairo (photo: TNN/Essmat El-Kholy)

The general benefits of pole fitness include weight loss, muscle toning and an increase in core and upper body strength. The results are visible very quickly. People learn moves they never thought they were capable of doing and tone muscles they never thought they had in a relatively short time. Pole fitness is quite possibly the ultimate workout for the modern day woman. And it just hit Egypt courtesy of Manar Al-Mokadem who brings the new trend in body shaping with her studio Pole Fit Egypt.

Al-Mokadem describes pole fitness as being “feminine, amusing, and articulate.”

One of many who joined Pole Fitness Egypt (photo: TNN/Essmat El-Kholy)

“The studio is about bringing an all modern/semi-taboo type of dance into a country where women can rid themselves of the taboo connotations that come with pole dancing, in a space that allows for the respect of our cultural beliefs. It is a space where women can connect with their feminine physique and express it however they desire,” Al-Mokadem told TNN.

She adds that the toughest thing about pole fitness as a sport “is coordination; you must have a really strong relationship and connection between mind and body. The most enjoyable part is performing. You feel like you’ve accomplished so much when you put a routine together. It forces you to break out of your comfort zone and challenges you through the continuous process of learning to connect with your body.”

Al-Mokadem striking a pose (photo: TNN/Essmat El-Kholy)

“Unlike other forms of aerobics, pole fitness is more of a psychological challenge than a physical one,” Al-Mokadem added.

Fitness enthusiasts looking for something new and intriguing might become interested in pole fitness because they’re bored of the gym and its repetitive motions.

There are many misconceptions, especially in Egypt, about what pole fitness is all about. There are many pole dancers, studios and campaigns all over the world working to build awareness of the differences between a striptease or exotic dance and the acrobatic art of pole fitness which is a non-sexual form of dance/acrobatics/exercise.

Angi, one of many who find pole fitness to be an acrobatic and artistic sport (photo: TNN/Essmat El-Kholy)

Being in a Middle Eastern country Al-Mokadam sees she has a role in clearing up the misconceptions. While she does not believe pole fitness will necessarily correct the assumptions, it could at least adjust them.

Pole Fit the studio is now open in Garden City and founder Al-Mokadem is determined to change the perception of the exercise from its exotic picture to an acrobatic art form.

Girls gather from all around Cairo to attend pole fitness classes (photo: TNN/Essmat El-Kholy)