Being a beginner pole dancer can be one of the most fun and most challenging times in your pole dance journey. I’ve asked some of my favourite instructors, performers and pole dancers their best tips for pole dance beginners, in the hope they will inspire you as much as they inspire me and that YOU. DO. NOT. GIVE. UP.
Who You Will Be Hearing From
I have been pole dancing for three years and even though I’m a beginner, intermediate and exotic pole dance instructor, I’m by no means an authority. I do butt in at some point, but I wanted you to read tips for pole dance beginners by some incredible polers I know rather than just waffle on myself. So without further ado, here’s your beginners help team.
Veronica Cebotari, Owner of Exotica Pole Dance London
Veronica, 31, is my very Russian boss and mentor. She was an accountant in the past and has a university degree in finance. She has been pole dancing for nine years and owns popular London studios Exotica Pole Dance Bermondsey and Hackney Wick.
Andrew Gregory a.k.a @tattoo_pole_boy, Performer and Pole Instructor at London Dance Academy
Andrew teaches London Dance Academy‘s Pole Lads classes every week. Andrew has competed in and won the Parapole title at both the IPSF European Championships and IPSF World Championships in Canada. He was also voted Male Athlete of the Year. Although he eventually took the decision to have his injured lower leg amputated in early 2018, Andrew got back to training very soon afterwards. Just over a year on, he is now a Parapole World Champion, having won gold at both the IPSF’s championships in Holland and World Finals in Canada.
Beanie The Jet, Plus Size Pole Instructor and Performer
Beanie The Jet is a plus size pole dance instructor and performer, and the creator of the body and sex positive Instagram account @pdfilthyfriday, where she showcases pole and dance filth from all over the Internet. Beanie is currently expecting a baby boy and you can find her on IG at both @beanie_the_jet and @thepoledancingbabymama. I personally can’t WAIT to see her dance again and to meet the new addition to the family!
Steve a.k.a @nabootube, Pole Dancer
Steve, 39, has been poling for four years. He rock climbed for 10 years prior, tried pole and realised it gives you crazy core strength. When he joined The Warehouse Dance Studios two years ago he was in a low place from a break-up and a 20-year skunk addiction and found that his teacher and new friends gave him the boost he needed. He started to pole twice a week, had the best time mentally and saw the strength gains physically. He now has, he says, “an amazing pole dancer girlfriend and the most amazing diverse group of female friends.” His life is better and pole has played a big part in that.
Peach Lee Ray, Pole Dance Instructor, Performer and Studio Owner at Feelin’ Peachy – Pole Dancing Classes Wirrall
Peach is a pole instructor and studio owner based in Wirral, UK. She runs a studio with a focus on body diversity – their values are Fun, Freedom, Self-Love. She helps everyone who walks through her door to be happier and more confident is her life mission. Read my full interview with her here.
Alexys, Pole Dance Performer and Instructor at Alexys Academy, Cagliari (Italy)
Alexys runs Alexys Academy in Cagliari, Sardinia, where he teaches pole, heels and flexibility. He has been dancing for almost 20 years now. He started with Latino dance, then ballet, show dance, hip hop, modern and contemporary. In 2013 he started pole and in 2017, during six months he spent in San Francisco, he studied and practiced exotic, his favourite style. There he did his first Exotic competition in 2018, winning 3rd place. He came second at Exotic Generation Italy, also competing in Exotic Generation France and UK. Alexys is an Xpert heels and fitness instructor and a Pro worldwide Exotic competitor.
Why did you start pole dancing and what was your main worry as a beginner?
Veronica: It’s a long story, but I’ll make it very short. I had insomnia, as I used to work as an accountant and I had three jobs the same time. I couldn’t sleep, I always had numbers in my mind. Once I saw a photo of one of my friends, a top lawyer in a Gazprom company, on the pole on social media and she recommended I should try it. After my first class I realized that while doing pole I had never thought about my job, and was so rested in my mind while doing a lot of exercise at the same time. Straight after that first class I bought an unlimited membership package for pole. For five years in that studio I used unlimited membership and never regretted it. I didn’t have any worries, honestly, I just enjoyed every single class.
Andrew: I originally came to the studio to do anti-gravity yoga. I was looking for an exercise class that my badly injured leg (motorcycle accident many years earlier) would allow me to do. I was fascinated by pole being taught at the studio, and eventually decided to try it.
Beanie: I’ve always been in awe and inspired by strippers/sex workers from quite a young age. I was always that one kid on the dancefloor at family parties twerking and whining my hips, it was inevitable that I was going to end up pole dancing at some point. I actually made the leap to learn pole dancing to help with depression. At the time I worked a busy, full time recruitment role and things were really getting on top of me. My main worry as a beginner was that I was ‘too fat’ to use a pole and I was unsure whether I’d fit in because of how I looked.
Steve: A friend did pole dancing and I did rock climbing. We both agreed to try each other’s sports. I guess my main worry was my own anxiety of being in a room full of people doing something I’d never tried before.
Peach: I started pole dancing when I moved back in with my parents and no longer had a solid friendship group after leaving my university city. I wanted something social to do, and my partner thought I would be good at pole so he encouraged me to start. I didn’t really know anything about pole so I don’t remember coming with any preconceptions or worries, which I think was great as I didn’t have any limiting beliefs to hold me back!
Alexys: I didn’t decide to start pole – pole chose me. I mean, I didn’t even know its existence until a dance friend told me about it when she tried it during a dance festival in Florence and then I started taking some classes from her at her house. So I started it for fun, but immediately I fell in love with it. To be honest I don’t remember if I was worried about something when I started (it was seven years ago!) but maybe my main worry was not being so good at it as I wished. You know, artists always expect a lot from themselves!
What are the main challenges for beginners?
Veronica: Definitely pain! If it’s skin pain, just go through with it. If it’s not skin pain, tell your instructor and go to the doctor!
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Andrew: Those first classes are so scary, there is always people who have done the class before and kinda know what to do. I was so worried I was just gonna make a fool of myself!!! You spend so much time focusing on what the better people in the class are doing, thinking you’re never gonna get this move. My biggest problem was working out which bit of my clumsy body went where, in which direction and when. Getting all that in the right order too.
Beanie: Personally, one of my main challenges as a beginner was perseverance. As a plus poler I felt as though I wasn’t progressing as quickly as others and a lot of the moves were trickier for me as I carried a lot of weight. I also really struggled to look at myself in the mirror, I really hated what I saw. Despite feeling good I still found it a challenge to actually look at myself. As a teacher of exotic pole this is something I see a lot of beginners struggle with in class, not quite having the confidence to really let go or getting really frustrated with not being able to hit certain combos. I also find one of the main challenges for beginners is comparing themselves to other people in class.
Steve: First I’m going with the pain. Jeeeeeeze these polers are tough! After pain I’d say trust. Learning to trust your own hands not to let go.
Peach: Self-belief and confidence is definitely prominent. I say to my beginners they have so much more strength than they realise; if they work a physical job, or have young kids, or anything like that, they will have more muscle than they think. Pushing past that barrier and getting them to trust themselves is the first step to empowering them to achieve their goals.
Alexys: I think pole is and will always be a challenge at every level, just because I’ve seen it evolve so much during these last years and there are always harder things to do for everyone. But for sure, as an instructor and as a student I can say that the main challenges are building your own strength (physically but mentally first) and being confident in showing your body during a class in front of people that you don’t know. But you just need to take your time and things will start getting better.
What’s the nicest thing about being a beginner?
Veronica: When you are beginner you just start to realize how wide the world of pole dance is and you explore new things. Also, you meet so many new friends: honestly, even when you are not a beginner anymore you will still have this feeling that you a part of big team of amazing mentally and physically strong people.
Andrew: It’s so much fun for beginners, everything is new, everything is REALLY hard. Those moves that seem so simple now, definitely weren’t simple in the early day.
Steve: The amazing support. With the right school, teacher and class mates, the feeling of attempting a move and the support of cheers and claps are just incredible. Feel good factor 100!
Peach: I think it is the unknowing! I think the hardest place to be is learning pole again after a break, because you know what to expect. So, inverse, having all that potential ahead of you, and discovering the magic and addictive nature of pole for the first time, is the most special thing about being a beginner. You never realise until later though!
Alexys: That you feel excited in everything (or almost) you do on pole just like a kid in Disneyland. Everything is new, you meet new friends, you belong to a new big family.
How long can you consider yourself a beginner for?
Veronica: I think at least until you become an instructor you are still a beginner, as you are always learning.
Andrew: It took me a while to stop thinking of myself as a beginner. I set high standards for myself. When I was told to go to L4 (advanced at London Dance Academy), I started to think differently: this was my crossover from beginner to poler.
Beanie: Some instructors/studios have specific rules which indicate when a person is ready to move up a level. I think this is a great way of pushing people to achieve more and to be their best and also helps with the structure of classes and class planning. For me personally, I don’t think it should be wholly based on what a person can achieve physically. Pole is also a mental journey and how a person feels is the real indicator to the level they should be at or should at least be taken into consideration. I think a lot of studios do, with classes such as Intermediate, Improver and Advanced beginner.
Steve: Lol is four years too long?! In my mind you’re a beginner until you decide you don’t want to be. The harder your training ups your status, it’s not time-based.
Peach: I still consider myself a baby pole dancer, a student; learning all the time as an instructor, dancer and artist. We are always a beginner in something, whether it is a style, practice or technique we haven’t tried yet. I think it is more of a mindset than a skill level that you move past. We should all keep a beginner mindset, and never assume we know everything.
Alexys: Maybe forever? Lol just kidding. If you persist and take classes regularly I think just the first year you are a beginner. In the second one you start discovering and feeling as you are on an intermediate level.
Do You Have Any Advice For Plus Size Beginners?
Veronica: It doesn’t matter if you are plus size, you can do it. I have many plus size students, but they could be stronger that anyone else in the class. In my mind there’s no difference, just do it!
Beanie: 1) DO NOT compare yourself to anybody else, comparison is the thief of joy. Instead of comparing ask your pole sister and instructor what it’ll take for you achieve that move and add it to your list of goals.
Use social media positively, follow other plus polers see what they’re doing and be inspired. 2) Never quit! Take time out if you need it, but do not quit. Strength is built over time and you will get there. 3) Speak up and always ask questions. Sometimes certain moves need to be demonstrated differently, and your instructor won’t be aware if you don’t ask questions or make them aware. Ask for alternative, modified moves that work for your body type, or for conditioning exercises when necessary.
Peach: Do not underestimate yourself. Society will make you, friends and family will, and hell, even your pole instructor might. But, your body shape or size does nor dictate how much you can achieve. For some people the journey is easier, and for others more difficult, and you may need to adapt things around your body, but never believe that you are less capable or less wonderful because of your body. The biggest advice applies to everyone though: Have patience and work consistently, and you can achieve amazing things.
Alexys: I think it’s not all about your size. I mean, technically it’s harder to do some tricks on pole if you are plus size, ok…but it’s not a rule. If you have a good teacher who motivates you, he/she will encourage you to follow your own path. We don’t have to do the same things everyone does, we just need to do what our body is ready to do and can do. When I was a student, even if I wasn’t plus size I wasn’t able to do a jade split or a cocoon for example [really flexy moves for the uninitiated], and it was frustrating. But then I understood that each of us can discover and create his/her own pole vocabulary, and that’s what makes us unique. Keep in mind that if you don’t get something in class it’s not because you are bad, but just because it’s not your time to do that.
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Pole dancing can feel like a girl’s club. Any advice for male / LBTQIA+/ Gender non-conforming beginners?
Andrew: Pole is so accepting of all, it’s a very diverse crowd. I think it’s the straight guys who find it hardest to go to their first classes, they are the minority.
Beanie: My main piece of advice again is speak up! As a plus, black poler I was always a little paranoid that maybe I might not fit in. Whenever I felt like that I would always speak up. My instructor would always set my mind at ease and a lot of what I felt was just that, paranoia. Do your research! Make sure you choose to pole at a studio that makes you feel welcome, with instructors and students who aren’t going to make you feel as though you don’t fit in. Even to this day when teaching workshops or hosting events I will look at the studios’ social media, mainly Instagram. I’m looking to find out who attends those classes and the words they use to describe their space. It seems a little bit stalky but I need to feel safe, comfortable and supported and I want the same for my students, you can spot a diverse and inclusive studio a mile off with a little research and if you’re still not sure ask if you can go in to find out a little bit more, take a friend for support. Also, make the effort to get to know the people in your class. There is no greater feeling than being part of a family and that’s exactly what the people you pole with become. Along with your instructor your class mates will support you through thick and thin, not just in the studio but outside too.
Steve: Watch other male polers on Insta! Pole has so many variations from strong static, explosive and flippy, flexy and sexy! Find what style you’ll be most comfy with and train and work in that direction. As many pole influencers and teachers are female, this can add a feminine touch to the moves. Some guys feel uncomfortable with and may avoid pole, as they may not realise it can be done in a masculine way. But still try everything as it helps us learn and improve.
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Veronica: I don’t divide students by using gender criteria, and I’ll never do. You are a pole dancer or you are not, that’s it for me.
Alexys: I know that at the beginning it’s not easy at all. When I started pole I was the only guy in Sardinia doing it and I think now I’m the only one for example that does Exotic. I’ve just decided to not take into consideration others’ opinion about it. Just be yourself, build your own style, feel free to do it even if people judge you. Because remember that people judge you anyway, so get them something to talk about.
Carolina: Just gonna butt in over here because I have my own experience with this. At the moment, I’m in a happy relationship with a man but I’m bi. I’ve read so many questions in pole groups where beginner boys or gay girls would ask: “What if people think I’m hitting on them? How do I act? Should I come out in every class?” and the answer is no. You shouldn’t come out in each class that you walk into. Pole studios are a safe space, and even if I’m personally really attracted to women, I don’t act upon that attraction at the studio because I assume they are like family. Just act like you’re among friends and if you feel like someone may feel awkward when they’re being spotted, ask for consent to touch them – which is good pole etiquette anyway.
Any advice for beginners with a disability?
Veronica: Talk to your doctor before you start and tell your instructor before the class about all your injuries or disabilities.
Andrew: I’m a disabled poler, as an amputee I am very lucky to have amazing teachers around me who work so hard to help me achieve what seems almost impossible sometimes. The studio I’m at is forward-thinking, they also have me as a teacher. If you’re differently abled, it’s about finding the right space and teachers: don’t settle for a teacher who doesn’t see your ability.
Steve: Polers respect the pain, the training not seen and the effort just to attempt a move. So do not let a disability discourage you from pole because I and your new pole fam will cheer the loudest for you.
Alexys: We have so many beautiful examples of people that do pole even if they struggle with their disability. Just turn your disability your strength.
Your number one piece of advice for beginners
Veronica: Never look at the other students and never compete with them as you don’t know their experience. You should look only at yourself and compare yourself to the past ‘you’ and to the person you are now. Don’t give up! Remember that you do it for yourself, not for you boyfriend\girlfriend, mum, dad, instructor. For yourself!
Andrew: My number one piece of advice for beginners? Simple: book a class, go to the class, book your next class, repeat. It’s that simple.
Beanie: My number one piece of advice to beginners is, don’t give up! Learning how to pole is a challenge, not just mentally, but physically and emotionally too. You will have good sessions and not so great sessions, but the good most definitely outweights the bad. Take a little break when things get too much, focus on conditioning then get back to it, but don’t give up.
Steve: Don’t stop. Pole is fucking hard. You hit walls. You see others progress faster. But it’s not about anyone but you. Keep going, train for the goals and do it more than once a week. You will become awesome.
Peach: Remember why you started. Remember that feeling of spinning round the pole for the first time. Remember the laughter and joy. Never let that feeling go in pursuit of ‘being great’.
Alexys: Work on loving yourself more, loving your body more because it’s where your beautiful soul is. Start appreciating and considering what you like most from yourself and what you are able to do, and then what about you looks good on the pole. Let your light shine. Just Dance. Try each style and find yours or create your own. With some self-love, E V E R Y T H I N G will come easily. Trust me.