While most parents choose to enrol their children in cricket or tennis, a rising number have embraced the taboo of pole dancing as an after-school activity through a new brand of all-ages 'pole fitness' classes.
The growing number of dance studios around Australia offering classes to children as young as four has sparked criticism from advocates against the sexualisation of young girls as well as the Australian Family Association, but many in the industry claim pole fitness is purely about exercise.
'Unfortunately in Australia pole is still associated for the majority as something that takes place in a strip club, [but that] is an adult stereotype that is placed on a perfectly legitimate workout,' Lisa Singh, who runs classes for children from her studio in Melbourne's east, told Daily Mail Australia.
A growing number of dance studios around Australia are offering classes to children as young as four, including Justice Hailey (above)
Lisa, a former showgirl in the exotic industry, owns and operates Vertical Fitness and offers pole fitness classes for children aged four to 15 years old, including her 11-year-old daughter Justice Hailey.
While the studio also offers classes for adults, she maintains that none of the moves that the juniors are taught could be considered sexual and that the activity is a fantastic activity for children and teenagers.
'For a lot of parents it can be difficult to motivate teenagers to exercise and get involved in sports, pole is just another avenue that can be utilised to help build strength, stay healthy, active and build confidence,' she said.
The classes, which require parental consent, usually involve a warm up, basic gymnastic routines, spins on the pole, and pole routines, depending on age and skills level.
Lisa Singh (left), who owns Vertical Fitness in Melbourne, is pictured with her daughter, Justice (centre), and partner Ro
Justice's mother is a former showgirl in the exotic industry and said pole fitness was a sport
Lisa said there was a distinction to be drawn between pole dancing and pole fitness or 'sport', which focuses on the athletic benefits of the activity rather than performers who 'adapt a more exotic dance style choreography into their classes'.
But Melinda Liszewski, spokesperson for Collective Shout, a grassroots movement against the sexualisation of girls, said the sport was still connected to its strip-club association, which could place children in a vulnerable position.
'If this is purely about fitness, then why wouldn't you choose gymnastics instead of placing them in a context which they don't have enough knowledge about to consent to?' Ms Liszewski said.
'Let them be kids, instead of participating in an adultified form of gymnastics. I would question why parents would choose to put their children in such a scenario if pole dancing was purely for fitness.'
But Melinda Liszewski, spokesperson for Collective Shout, a grassroots movement against the sexualisation of girls, said the sport was still connected to its strip-club association
Terri Kelleher, spokesperson for the Australian Family Association, said the argument that pole fitness was purely an exercise based activity was not a new one
'Teenagers can now enrol in burlesque and lap dancing classes. In the current context the uniform of pole dancing is high heels, feather boas, and spread legs,' she said.
Terri Kelleher, spokesperson for the Australian Family Association, said the argument that pole fitness was purely an exercise based activity was not a new one.
'It is wonderful for children to exercise and get fit, and it's been argued that it increases body strength for at least four years now, but there are other, less sexualised, ways to get fit,' Ms Kelleher said.
'I do think it sexualised and if you have children competing publicly those moves are on display.'
As well as running Vertical Fitness, Lisa also heads up the National Pole Fitness Championships in Australia, which introduced a junior category for the first time this year, in response to what she claims a growing acceptance of pole dancing in the mainstream.
Pole dancing has seemingly exploded in Australia over the past decade, with many women- and men- embracing the activity for recreation, fitness, and almost everything in between.
Lisa Singh (left) also heads up the National Pole Fitness Championships in Australia
The national championships have introduced a junior category for the first time this year, in response to what she claims a growing acceptance of pole dancing in the mainstream
Justice Hailey attends her mother's pole fitness classes and can contort herself into many different position on the pole
From hens nights and 21st birthdays, to circus performers and festival attractions, pole dancing has enjoyed a good run- indigenous dancer Matthew Shields auditioned for Australia's Got Talent in 2011 with his pole dancing routine.
However Ms Kelleher said that while adults have the ability to make an informed decision about whether to engage in pole dancing, children are not in a position to do the same.
'It’s really up to the parent to decide if they want to enrol their children, but they need to be fully informed and empowered to make decisions for children when they’re too young,' she said.
Lisa said that children were unaware of the sexualisation of pole and were more likely to be monkey-like in their movements, rather than imitate any racy dance moves they might see.
'Kids are not aware of the stereotypes some surround pole with and innocently participate in an activity which is fun, challenging and rewarding, it is the negative attitudes of adults who create the stereotypes stigma of kids doing pole,' she said.
'Any pole trick that is performed usually has its counterpart or similar in gymnastics or ballet. Pole originally has been performed in China and India for 100’s of years by predominantly men in circus and as a sport.'
Chynna Roberts (above) began pole dancing when she was 15 years of age
Shayla Barlett runs Pole Catz Studio in NSW's Tweed Heads, which also offers teen pole dancing lessons and said that every studio she has been to has offered classes to children 12 years and over.
'I signed up at 17 years of age, so it’s not something I really think about. As long as we have a parent’s permission, with written consent, I do not think there is anything wrong with children or teenagers attending classes,' Shayla said.
'Pole dancing is a sport which requires athleticism, tremendous strength and skill. It is another art form of dance and expression, using a vertical pole as the apparatus,' she said.
'Ultimately, I would like to see stereotypical and preconceived ideas regarding pole dancing continue to be challenged, so pole dancing and the people who choose to do it, are respected for their talent, skills and the strength they have achieved.'
Chynna said she was drawn to pole dancing after seeing a video and signed up immedidately
'Pole fitness isn’t about being sexy and stripping, it’s about setting a goal and achieving it,' Chynna said
Chynna Roberts, now 18, began pole dancing lessons at Pole Catz at the age of 15, and said that when she tells people she does pole dancing they will often ask if it involves stripping, but that she doesn't see the sport as sexual.
'Pole fitness isn’t about being sexy and stripping, it’s about setting a goal and achieving it. In my opinion, pole sports does not sexualise young girls, we’re not promoting pole to be sexual we’re promoting it to be a fitness,' Chynna said.
'Personally, I think young girls should be allowed to do this sport, it is an amazing way to get fit. I think children and teens should have all rights to start at any age, there is no age limit to being fit.'
'Personally, I think young girls should be allowed to do this sport, it is an amazing way to get fit,' said Chynna
Pole Catz Studio in NSW's Tweed Heads offers classes for teenagers (2015 graduation concert above)
Ms Lizsewski said that she believed studios were taking pole dancing and 'white washing' it of all connections to the sex industry and 're-branding as fitness'.
'Pole dancing still refuses to distance itself from the sex industry. There is a definite crossover, pole dancing is still featured at Sexpo, and I think it's really sinister to enrol kids in pole dancing classes because they have no idea of the context of it,' she said.
'If they are performing routines that are used by adults in connection to the sex industry that is a real burden on a child.'
Ms Kelleher said that she was concerned that children engaging in pole fitness would not realise the impact of their movements, and that as they got older if the activity had been presented as a legitimate sport it could cause issues.
'I think there needs to be some caution exercised, because we can't control people's perceptions. I don't know how controlled the competitions are and if I had a daughter I'd be very concerned,' she said.
'It reminds me of beauty pageants, little girls all done up and makes me feel very uneasy. They gorgeous and completely innocent and unaware of the message they are sending out into the ether.'
I think some of the pictures just look fun while others DO look too sexy for girls of a young age. I think the negative connotions that could come from this would out-weigh the benefits of exercise. There are plenty of other ways for kiddos to get into shape.Reposted From: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3010518/Some-say-s-great-way-fit-insist-belongs-strip-clubs-let-child-learn-pole-dance.html#ixzz3VnzEsKW6 Feel free to follow me on my Facebook page or check out more from me on my blog at www.zuzanaorbodyrockaddict.blogspot.com
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