Sarah, 29, from Bristol started learning pole five years ago.
“I’ve always been sporty and heard how it is great for all-round fitness,” says Sarah. “I found a pole dance school nearby and was hooked after my taster class. It blends aerial gymnastics, dance, acrobatics and strength training, and requires huge skill and discipline. I’ve competed in championships and taken part in workshops both here and abroad. It’s a huge part of my life – I’ve even had a pole installed in my flat.”
“I started going a year ago as a fun way to keep fit, and I’ve convinced several friends to have a go. It’s very demanding and has really upped my core strength. On top of that, it makes me feel amazing; strong and sexy.”
“Pole dancing is body positive and can be very liberating and empowering, and it can really help you to focus,”
“I see a lot of people who are stuck in a bad relationship or who can’t get over a broken heart.
“When I suggest pole dancing they often look at me like I’m mad, but I’ve had many who have tried it and never look back. It really can help get people through a difficult time and come out stronger and more confident.”
For Katie, who campaigned for over a decade for pole to get to this point, the fight to convince them otherwise is on.
“It’s finally an opening for us to achieve our dream,” Katie says. “When it does eventually get to the Olympics – and I know it will – I hope I won’t be there with a zimmer frame in tow. It’s become a sport so quickly – in just six years – who’s to say where we’ll be in another six?
“Pole is as far removed from the world of strip clubs and nightclubs as can be. That still exists and has its place in society, but it’s almost like saying BMX riding is the same as Tour de France. While we use the same apparatus – the pole – our communities are different. What we do is for children as well as adults.
“Pole dancing is not like everyone thinks it is, you need to actually watch it to understand.”