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Pole dancing is not a hobby. It’s an addiction, according to one of Joburg’s best.

iPole – do you? Aviva Hanan, who may be a lawyer by day, she is also a ‘spin doctor’ on the pole!

Long seen as something scandalous – thanks to strip club advertising – pole dancing is slowly but surely entering the mainstream as a popular fitness trend. And so it should. It’s a medium-to-high intensity form of exercise that targets main muscle groups – as well as those tiny muscles you’ve probably forgotten you have.

It’s such a great workout because it requires you to rely on your own bodyweight while you resist gravity and spin around.

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Pole dancing scorches calories (yay!), resulting in weight loss while building muscle – and it improves your flexibility, reducing risk of injury. It’s a core and cardio workout all in one that improves your balance, dance co-ordination (hello, those of us with two left feet) but most importantly, it’s a massive confidence booster. It’s impossible to not feel sexier after a few weeks of pole class. And it’s so much fun.

Pole dancers spend their lessons sweating it out but also laughing until their bellies ache – usually after watching their instructor do something ridiculous (usually upside down and involving a split) and then saying, ‘Now you go’.

But don’t worry too much – you won’t do upside down spins and splits on your first lesson … but they’re not as far down the line as you may think!

Aviva Hanan, the owner of iPole, started out as a total beginner back in 2012 and she loves every single second of what she does – especially ‘watching the growth of [her] students’.

Aviva completed her instructor training through BodyMind Studios shortly after she started pole dancing. She began by taking beginners’ classes, then took courses for full mastery of advanced tricks. She’s a registered fitness instructor with Pole Dance Community South Africa (PDCSA) and also qualified as a Pilates instructor through the Trifocus Fitness Academy in 2010. So you’re in very qualified (and fit) hands here.

This pint-sized stick of dynamite is one of the best instructors in Joburg, but that’s not all. She’s also a qualified attorney.

‘Balancing being a legal officer with running a pole studio is tough, but luckily I have a team of highly-qualified instructors whom I trust completely with my clients.’

The all-female classes involve lots of laughing, photos, exercise and bruise-comparing.

Pole is a bit of an extreme sport at times, and Aviva takes the utmost care to ensure the well-being of every dancer who comes into her studio.

‘Safety is sexy! Pole is essentially gymnastics on a vertical pole instead of a horizontal one. There’s a reason they’re considering adding it as an Olympic sport,’ Aviva says.

The beauty of pole dancing is that a total beginner can master an impressive-looking trick within a week – even though, as Aviva says when it comes to improving, ‘You should only compare yourself to you.’

Progress happens very quickly, which is a blessing in a fitness world where a thousand crunches don’t result in half an ab muscle. But progress comes at a price! Any pole practitioner will proudly display their bruises – ‘pole kisses, actually’ – as a demonstration of a recently mastered skill. And it makes sense: Scantily clad bodies are pushed against steel for extended periods of time. At least at the end of the session there are a hundred photos to show off your sexy self. If you’re going to get some bruises, at least earn them with something more than misjudging the gap between your legs and the underside of a table. The all-female classes involve lots of laughing, photos, exercise and bruise-comparing. ‘It’s far from the sexy show men tend to think goes down during pole classes!’

If you’re not quite ready to commit to a weekly class, there’s always the option of being the best bridesmaid in town by planning a bachelorette party that will never be forgotten with options of pole dancing, lap-dancing or even burlesque dancing to choose from. The VIP bride-to-be is given a free gift of a month of pole lessons. These parties aren’t just limited to prospective brides. Aviva has hosted birthday parties – and even divorce parties … because nothing says ‘Bye, Felicia!’ like learning how to pole dance!

It’s also guaranteed to make you giggle during the sleazy strip club scenes in TV shows and movies – mostly because you’ll realise they’re just gyrating in heels without a stitch of technique visible anywhere. Not even a ‘fireman’s spin’. Nothing. Where are the inversions, ladies? Suicide spins? No? Seriously! Pole dancing is also sure to make you glance at poles suggestively everywhere you go. No street pole will be exempt from your wandering eye as you search for the nearest route back to a pole class – that’s how much fun it is.

If you’re ready to take your gym-game to the next level (and build huge self-confidence while you’re at it), head to iPole … but Aviva warns: ‘Be careful – pole dancing is not a hobby. It’s an addiction.’ Oh, and don’t wear moisturiser to your first class. Just trust us on this one!

Details: i-pole.co.za or email [email protected]

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