What makes a good online pole dance class? This post was requested by a few of my followers, since lockdowns may be mostly over, but online pole classes are very much here to stay. The pandemic has massively changed the way we teach and learn, allowing everyone to take classes with their favourite polers. And with the world’s top pole dancers launching their own teaching platforms, selling tutorials or continuing to teach online workshops and classes, it’s difficult to even start choosing who to learn from! So hopefully this post can help you understand not only what makes a good online pole dance class, but what makes a good online pole class for you in particular.
My experience with online classes
While I may have taken a step back from teaching regularly, I have made my name as a pole instructor during the lockdowns, teaching live online pole classes, workshops and privates as well as selling tutorials and recordings via Buy Me A Coffee. I’m a certified pole tricks, heels and twerk instructors – certifications I gained online.
Online pole classes are also my preferred learning method: attending an online pole dance class – live or pre-recorded – saves me energy, time and money, avoiding long commutes, social interaction when I don’t feel like chatting and coming back home alone late at night.
So you can say I have experience with online classes both as a pole instructor and pole student, and with this post, I’m going to try and help you choose the best online pole dance class for you.
The structure of a good online pole dance class
The structure and general feel of a good online pole dance class aren’t too different from an offline pole class. As a rule of thumb, a good class will be structured as follows: a warm-up that is appropriate for the moves taught (e.g. heels classes often have a different warm-up from tricks classes), the main class program (e.g two to three pole combos or a choreography) and a cool-down.
Sometimes, classes run overtime and it’s not possible to fit in a cool-down, because either the instructors or the students have to run. But I prefer cooling my students down and when online pole dance instructors cool me down, because teaching cool-down moves makes students independent, giving them pointers or inspo when cooling down by themselves.
What changes, for me, in online pole classes is that instructors often tend to give more: being more upbeat and monitoring their laptop for feedback is a way of making up for the lack of a shared space, which often allows for more downtime. An effective online pole dance class should also feature moves and combo demos from different angles to make up for the lack of a 360 view, and often relies on lengthier spoken demos for the same reasons.
It’s even more important to ask students about their injuries in an online pole dance class, because the instructor can’t spot them and has to trust they’re not hurting themselves. So if you’re a student and you’re attending an online pole dance class, make sure you mention your injury for your own safety if the instructor forgets to ask (it can happen, there’s a lot going on!).
Finally, clarity is even more crucial in online classes. Class descriptions should provide clear level definitions, to allow students to see whether they are able to attend. Either way, the instructor should provide variations for different abilities.
Class formats and length
When we talk about online pole dance classes we often treat them as if they’re all the same, but in reality formats can vary greatly. It’s important to differentiate between them because a class’s format inevitably changes what you should expect from them. The most common types of online pole dance class offering I’ve seen are:
- A class: like a standard offline pole class, often lasting around an hour and happening more or less regularly (e.g. once a week by the same instructor or studio)
- A workshop or masterclass: more of a special occasion event, and less regular. It may cover special combos, a specific theme or a choreo, and it is often longer, going from 1.15 to 2 hours
- A tutorial: while classes and workshops are either live or recorded, a tutorial is a shorter, more specific and pre-recorded learning experience. Tutorials can address specific moves, a combo or a short choreo, flow, warm-up or stretch exercise
- A private online pole dance class: these often last an hour and feature one or two students max. Here, you’ll be working on a choreo tailored to your wishes or a personalised set of combos.
Classes and tutorials can be purchased individually or be sold in packages, or even be part of a subscription platform with different offerings.
Formats and lengths inevitably affect the costs of your online pole dance class. Tutorials are on the cheaper end, while privates and masterclasses are more expensive, not just because they’re longer or because you’re getting instructors’ full attention, but also due to participant numbers and platform costs, which mean teachers have to charge more to offset expenses.
Other factors affecting the cost of an online pole dance class include: the instructor’s popularity; the country where they are based; the currency they get paid in; the country YOU are based in and the currency YOU pay with.
All of these factors will make a class cheaper or more expensive for you – so you want to decide what to pay depending on how much you want to learn from a specific instructor or to do a specific move, or how much you can afford. It’s always worth shopping around to understand how to set your class price or how much you should be paying.
YOU are often more important than the online pole dance class itself
I have attended very few bad online pole dance classes. What’s more likely to happen is that you may attend an online pole dance class that doesn’t work for you and for the type of learner you are, which is why the next paragraphs will be asking you questions about you rather than providing straight answers. This way, hopefully, you can start considering what you’re looking for in a class.
What type of learner are you?
We all learn differently, which means we could take to a specific instructor or method more than another.
If you’re a self-starter and have no problem tailoring your training to your needs, buying a selection of quick tutorials to achieve what you need without distraction may do the trick.
You may struggle with a specific aspect of your training – I, for instance, struggle to get started, so sometimes I like to warm up with classes I’ve purchased and then do the rest on my own. In this case, sometimes a warm-up tutorial may help you start off.
If, however, you have a very short attention span and switching between short tutorials might mean you start responding to emails and looking at cat videos, a full class – and even a live one at that – might help you focus.
Depending on your ability to learn visually and to understand cues, or even on your familiarity with the moves taught and with your instructor’s teaching style, you may want to consider whether it’s worth taking your online pole dance class live instead of pre-recorded. Particularly if you’re new to online pole classes, the ability to ask for feedback live might help you learn better and faster. If, however, you’re familiar with online learning and you can’t make the live class time, pre-recorded classes and tutorials will do just fine.
Which moves are you gonna be learning?
Talking about levels is important when learning online. I have taught complete beginners and really advanced students, including people who started out with a pole in their home during the pandemic. It’s of course very challenging and scary to learn to go upside down and do scary new moves without a spotter, so if you’re easily scared or struggle with pain and/or spatial awareness, consider blending in-person classes with your online pole dance class training to get the hardest moves out of the way in a studio.
This doesn’t mean that beginners aren’t suited to online pole classes. Particularly if you’re shy and still finding your feet with being half-naked in public, pole classes can be a really nice way to ease yourself into getting out of your comfort zone. So that’s why I prefer talking about moves rather than levels: I consider myself to be an advanced poler, but some of the moves that scare me the most are lower intermediate, and we’re all different like that!
Your choice of attending specific classes depends entirely on you and how scared you are of certain moves. If, like me, you hate laybacks and foot grip, you may benefit from a spotter the first time you learn these moves. On the other hand, some students are more careful with scary moves when they learn them at home, because fear forces them to be more alert.
So, no matter your level, consider your nemesis moves and your relationship with learning them remotely.
What do you need that online pole dance class for?
If you’re interested in learning a specific move or combo, buying a single tutorial or class with that specific aim might be simpler, quicker and more cost-effective than buying a whole class package or a longer workshop. If, however, you are looking for a training programme to follow to stay active and grow as a pole dancer, a learning platform subscription, an online pole dance class package or a set of privates might be a better call.
This sounds like common sense, but I’ve subscribed to learning platforms saying they were going to prep me for a Bird of Paradise, but in reality they were only teaching the move itself and not the prep. Other times, I wanted to learn a quick combo, but the class description didn’t explain that I was actually about to do a whole long lesson. So this is why I said clarity was key earlier: it’s important that instructors describe their classes properly, but it’s also important that students don’t buy a 5-minute tutorial expecting a whole class and have a clear idea of what their needs are.
The format that works for you may change over time, too. I sometimes subscribe to teaching platforms for a few months and then go back to single classes or solo training if I feel stuck or need more variety.
How much time have you got?
I personally find classes longer than an hour and a half difficult to manage, both in terms of stamina and attention. I’m also very time-poor and flaky, so when I see a class will last for two hours I mentally check out and don’t even want to start. But that’s just me – you may think that’s your training done for the day and love it!
So again, when thinking of class length, there are a few things to consider: do you train before or after work? Before or after eating?
If, like me, you train before work and have to wake up early for it, you may want a no-bullshit, fully structured one-hour class; if you’re training after work, you may have more time, but factor in hunger and tiredness and prep for those with snacks during your working day.
TL; DR: you’re your own boss
The beauty of online pole dance classes is that they’re flexible and that you can tailor them around your needs. But I can’t tell you your needs – you must get to to know them first to understand what type of online pole dance class works for you. Hope this post has helped you how to match your needs to the classes available out there 🙂
Buy my online classes here
I have mostly taught choreo online because I like teaching choreographies more than I like teaching tricks. I feel less anxious about teaching complex tricks when I’m teaching an online private and give my full attention to one student – if I’m teaching a group class I will worry I can’t keep an eye on everyone to do it safely. There are instructors that do it way better than me, and I’ll recommend them below.
If however you love heavy metal, rock and sassy/upbeat choreos, you can find them online on my Buy Me A Coffee, both as single tutorials and as bundle of different classes – some examples here:
Online pole classes I’ve enjoyed
I have been loving learning online tricks with the badass Kheanna Walker, who’s a fantastic teacher and a bloody beast – I had a sixpack the day after her Ayesha class, so get ready to sweat and feel the burn! Kheanna for now teaches single online classes and masterclasses, often around specific moves like the Ayesha and Brass Monkey, or flex classes. Learning from her is super fun and also very affordable, and holds me accountable because her recordings are only available for a week after class – you can’t put them off!
My go-to choreo teachers at the moment are Jazzy K and Jakub Kolasa, whose style is very different from mine. They both have a teaching platforms with pre-recorded tutorials and learning from them keeps me challenged and inspired. Their platforms have tiered memberships, and you can also buy single recordings or privates from them which are perfect for when you need to learn at their own pace.
Resources for students instructors
If you teach or are considering learning from home, you may also find these posts helpful:
- How to set up your home pole
- Using Buy Me A Coffee To Sell Online Classes and Tutorials
- Considerations On Teaching Fitness Classes Remotely Via Zoom.