When people think of pole dancing, they automatically envision a strip club which is both fair and unfair. Traditionally pole dancing has been a staple of adult entertainment. But these days, pole dancing is going mainstream especially in the fitness and dancing communities. The fitness community is embracing pole dancing as a creative way to get fit. Gyms such as Crunch and Equinox, for example, are offering pole dancing classes at certain locations. The dancing community is embracing pole dancing as a legitimate art form. More and more pole dancing competitions are springing up across the country, and the demand for pole dancing instructors is rising, although the number of qualified instructors is on the rise as well.
Let's just make this fact clear: there is currently a stigma that surrounds pole dancing. Many people are unaware of the legitimacy behind pole dancing both as an art form and a fitness outlet. Similarly, certain companies are hesitant to sponsor pole dancers, and certain media companies are hesitant to cover pole dancing events.
This industry is in its infancy, however. 2006 was the year in which gyms first started to embrace pole dancing. To a lot of people, the thought of pole dancing outside of a strip club is jarring and uncomfortable. Although this attitude is narrow minded, that's reality. As time goes on, however, the stigma that surrounds pole dancing will lessen. Look at the pornography industry. Porn is one million times more graphic than pole dancing, yet porn stars, while still stigmatized in society, are becoming more accepted into the mainstream. Time is the x factor. Right now, pole dancing is stigmatized. Thirty years from now, it probably won't be or at the very least, that stigma will have dramatically waned. If you're willing to perhaps suffer a little right now, ten or fifteen years from now you could be an authority in the pole dancing industry which could be on par with the yoga or Pilates industry.
A professional pole dancer with a full slate of students can make around $40,000 per year from just teaching (i.e. not competing professionally or earning sponsorships.) To make this type of money, however, you have to be an incredibly good pole dancer and network/market yourself well. So let's get started!
Build Up Your Body
Pole dancing is incredibly hard from a physical standpoint. To pole dance well requires the fitness and discipline of a rock climber. You have to be in very good shape, have excellent balance and be somewhat fearless before you attempt certain moves such as ones in which your body is inverted.
When you're first starting out, you don't need to be in tip top shape; as you practice pole dancing, your fitness will improve. That said, if you're not in tip top shape, your repertoire of pole dancing moves will be that much more limited.
If you're really serious about pole dancing, you're likely to be in good shape either through years of exercise or years of formal dance training. If you're not in good shape, start lifting weights to target every muscle group in your body. Perhaps consult a personal trainer even if it's just a one-hour brainstorm session. Cardio is important for pole dancing but a particular type of cardio called interval training. What this means is that there should be ebbs and flows in the intensity of your cardio workouts. An example of interval training is running hills; you sprint up the hill then jog down slowly.
Swimming is a great exercise that will help you develop the muscles and cardio for pole dancing. Swimming is a low impact exercise that's very easy on the joints and also works many small, obscure muscle groups throughout the body.
But the best way to gain the necessary strength and cardio to pole dance is to pole dance, which brings us to our next step.
Learn How to Pole Dance
Pole dancing is an art form. Like any art form, you need to hone your craft in order to succeed. To be a pole dancer, you simply need to log in your hours on the pole.
First off, find a pole. Many gyms offer introductory pole dancing classes. Some instructors own their own studios and provide lessons in house. Depending on where you take these classes, the price will vary. A general rule of thumb: the more money you invest in your training, the better it will be.
In addition to taking classes or lessons, you'll want to have a pole installed somewhere in your house. A nine foot pole will cost around $100. You can either install it yourself which requires some handyman know how or you can pay for installation. Installation shouldn’t cost more than $200 (it's pretty simple). This investment will pay off tenfold because through practicing at home—especially practicing techniques you learned in class or from an instructor—you'll improve exponentially. Be consistent. Practice on your own at least an hour a day, ideally four hours per day.
Also, it's a good idea to install the pole in front of a mirror so that you can watch yourself—how your body moves and the general rhythm of your movements. Competitive pole dancing is scored on many criteria, two of which are grace and timing. When performing a pole dancing routine, you perform to music. Find a few songs that you like and practice to those songs. You can even practice body movements to those songs in the mirror without a pole.
If you own your own pole, you can find other pole dancers in your area through online forums or in person networking and host clinics in your house. Learn from other people. Seek out feedback and give feedback in return.
Finally, watch online videos. Youtube is a great resource for pole dancing instruction as well as creative inspiration. Check out the videos below!
Monetizing Your Pole Dancing Ability
Once you're confident in your pole dancing abilities, you'll be able to make money as a pole dancer. Assuming that you're not competing and earning competition money, there are two main ways to monetize your pole dancing. First is to become a stripper. Second is to become a pole dancing instructor. Some people combine the two. If you can stomach the stigma and sexual objectification that comes with being a stripper, then combining teaching and adult performance will earn you the most money.
In urban areas such as New York City, there are many academies dedicated solely to pole dancing. If you're a very good pole dancer, have some competition experience (maybe you even won a competition) and better yet have prior experience teaching pole dancing, these academies could be interested in hiring you. Contact all of them because these jobs are competitive.
Normal chain gyms such as Crunch and Equinox are offering pole-dancing classes on a wider scale. You can contact chain gyms in your area and see if they're hiring pole dance instructors. Better yet, if gyms in your area don’t currently offer any pole dance instruction, offer to launch a program for them.
Just like any other industry, if you build a brand for yourself as a pole dancer, you can monetize your brand in many ways such as opening your own training school or selling instructional videos. The key is building a distinctive brand. When you're first starting out, you may not have a clear vision of what your brand will be or what distinguishes you from other pole dancers. That's okay—keep learning and improving. With time and improvement, you'll find your niche. You'll find what makes you special as a pole dancer whether it's a certain type of trick you perform or your ability to teach complex moves.
If you have a full slate of students, you can make around $40,000 as a pole dancing instructor. If you teach classes at a chain gym or at your own studio, you can make more money because every person in the class will be paying you an upfront fee. Let's say there are twenty people in the class. Each person pays 100 bucks for the class; that's $2,000 for one class! If you're brand is incredibly strong, you'll be able to charge that much. (Keep in mind though that if you own your own studio, you'll be paying rent/overhead costs.)
You'll want to market to wealthier individuals and establish yourself in wealthier areas. A pole dancing instructor in Beverly Hills, for example, will be able to charge more than a pole dancing instructor in South Central not necessarily because the Beverly Hills dancer is better but because the market is more affluent. That said, the cost of living and maintaining a studio in Beverly Hills will be quite high.
If you're an exotic dancer, you'll have no problem making $40,000 per year; you'll likely make a fair amount more when factoring in tips and private events. There isn't much room for growth in this type of job unless you, once again, build a very strong brand for yourself and scale your business by selling videos or opening your own strip club or maybe a chain of strip clubs.
The hours of a pole dancing instructor are similar to those of any freelance professional although a little less flexible. Most people who take your classes have day jobs so the bulk of your teaching will occur at night/ the early evening. 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM will be your sweet spot. Weekends will also be busy. On Saturdays and Sundays you'll likely be teaching all day.
Besides those times, your schedule will be flexible depending on your business model. This flexibility is certainly a plus to pole dancing.
Overall, the pole dancing profession is tough both physically and also in terms of dealing with stigma. People who succeed as pole dancing professionals do so because they genuinely love to pole dance.