Pole dancing has gained popularity as a form of exercise with increased awareness of the benefits to general strength and fitness. These forms of exercise increases core and general body strength by using the body itself as resistance, while toning the body as a whole. A typical pole dance exercise regimen in class begins with strength training, dance-based moves, squats, push-ups, and sit-ups and gradually works its way up to the spins, climbs and inversions which are the métier of the exercise. Pole dancing is also generally reported by its schools to be empowering for women in terms of building self-confidence, in terms of which its erotic components are still the subject of some controversy. Some feminists argue that sexualized dancing of this kind cannot be seen as empowering because the choice to participate is not made in freedom from constraining power structures, especially given the performative aspect of many classes.
Poles come in a variety of materials and coatings where each material possesses its own properties, advantages and disadvantages. The materials poles are made of are brass, titanium – gold, stainless steel and chrome. The brass and titanium – gold poles are gold in colour and are used to enhance the grip between the pole and the dancer, these poles are normally used by more advanced dancers. The stainless steel poles aren’t as popular as the other types as they do not have the finest grip however, they are used by dancers who have sensitive skin. The chrome poles are silver in colour and are most popular amongst beginners. The finishes some dance poles may possess are silicone sleeves and powder coatings. Silicone sleeves can provide maximum grip, however, there are safety precautions dancers must take and consider before using silicone sleeves. These measures can include a great amount of clothing to be worn by the dancer and only static moves can be performed. Poles that are coated in powder can provide the best friction and maximum grip for dancers.
Since 2003,[further explanation needed] pole dancing has been transitioning from an exotic performance to a recreational activity. Pole dancing as a sport differs from pole dancing as a recreation as recreational pole dancing is undertaken mainly for enjoyment rather than fitness. Recreational pole dancing can be seen as empowering to women as it can make women feel positively about themselves. This is because pole dancing builds confidence, power and is a way to express one’s self. When pole dancing is undertaken for enjoyment the idea of an exotic performance specifically for titillation is enhanced. Whilst undertaking pole class women will learn a variety of different ways to use the pole to execute spins, tricks, climbs and hangs. Check all studios' credentials before committing to a pole dance studio. It is common knowledge that as the difficulty of tricks and spins increase, so do the levels.
Pole dance in America has its roots in the "Little Egypt" traveling sideshows of the 1890s, which featured sensual "Kouta Kouta" or "Hoochie Coochie" belly dances, performed mostly by Ghawazi dancers making their first appearance in America. In an era where women dressed modestly in corsets, the dancers, dressed in short skirts and richly adorned in jewelry, caused quite a stir. During the 1920s, dancers introduced pole by sensually gyrating on the wooden tent poles to attract crowds.