Going to pole for the first time can be a little intimidating. This post is here to help prepare you and shake that feeling as much as possible.
What to wear
There’s a very practical reason polers wear revealing clothing: you need exposed skin to be able to grip the pole. All you need for a pole session is a pair of shorts and a sports bra. The shorter the shorts, the easier sitting on the pole will be.
That said, it can get cold in a studio, and certain moves might be more comfortable if you cover up, so layering is key. For your legs, leg warmers are perfect. If you wear leggings that go past the knee you can still do some spins, but climbing or sitting one the pole will be difficult. You might want socks for moves where your toes slide across the floor, but otherwise you’ll probably dance barefoot. Heels might be too much for your first class. Some dancers also wear knee protectors for floorwork. Most of these are overkill for your first class, but you might find them useful if you continue.
On the top a tank is best, as you might need to grip the pole in your armpit. You can add a long sleeved top in case it gets chilly.
What to bring
For a longer session, bring a bottle of water.
You’ll notice some people use chalk, “Dry Hands” or something similar to help with grip. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend trying without before making any purchases – if you need it, you can usually borrow it. If you’re worried about getting too sweatty, bring a small towel.
You can bring a phone to to take any pictures or videos with, but make sure to check with the instructor (and any other students around you) if that is okay.
Deodorant and a spare hairband if you have long hair might be other useful things to carry.
You can bring a friend if that helps, but a lot of people come on their own.
How to prepare
Eat something small, like a banana, shortly before the class. A large meal might lead to discomfort, and if you don’t eat anything at all you might feel dizzy or lightheaded. Make sure you’re hydrated.
Do not moisturize on the day of the class (or even a day before), especially your hands! Dry hands are best for grip. If you did moisture, follow the grip tips in the “Common Problems” section.
When you book the class, make sure it’s at the right level – depending on the studio, this could have many names (“Introduction to Pole”, “Level 1”, “Beginners”…).
Be there early enough that you have time to change in peace. If it’s your first time going to this studio/gym, bank in a couple extra minutes if you get lost, or to fill out any insurance forms that might be required. When you get there, check in with the reception, and they’ll point you to changing rooms, bathrooms and the studio your class will be in.
What to expect
If you’re going to an introductory class, you should be well taken care of. If you’re going to a regular class, make sure to inform the teacher it’s your first time (they should ask at the start) and if you have any injuries.
Depending on the size of the class, you might have your own pole, or you’ll share it with one other person, rarely more than that. Having your own is nice as you get more time to practice, but also more tiring.
Your pole class will most likely start with a 10-20 minute warmup – some cardio, stretching, and conditioning exercises. This is key for injury prevention.
Afterwards, you’ll probably be taught some simple spins, such as a fireman spin. You might try climbing the pole and sitting on it, which will hurt. Some teachers might incorporate floorwork, or combine various moves in a routine that you’ll dance to music. In rare cases you might be shown how to invert, or how to prepare for it.
At the end there should be a short cooldown to stretch your muscles.
Grip: you might feel like your hands are too sweaty to ever hold on to the pole. If so, wipe your hands and the pole with a towel (your studio should have some for the pole). Ths is also why you shouldn’t moisturise before the class. If you’re really struggling, use grip aid. Sometimes the problem is not necessarily in the grip itself, but engaging arms and shoulders properly.
Body insecurities: not everyone is immediately comfortable dancing in skimpy clothes. That is totally normal. Hopefully you’ll soon learn that the pole community is very welcoming and that no one is judging how you look. If anything, they’re probably worrying about themselves. Long term, pole can help greatly with your self confidence. For now, bring layers so you can cover up as much or as little as you want.
Feeling weak/unfit/inflexible: it’s possible you’ll find yourself in a class with a bunch of people who seem to be doing much better than you. The key is not to compare yourself with others. Even if they say it’s their first class, they might have a different background to you. Regardless, don’t be harsh on yourself – you’re trying something new, and you’re there to have fun and learn something.
After the class
Most people find pole to be a pretty tough workout – your arms and core might be quite sore the day after. To help with that, you can stretch, take a bath, foam roll, or use any other methods that work for you.
I hope that was helpful! If you have any questions or tips from your pole experience, please share in the comments.