Pole Dance – Not Just a Passing Fad

Here to stay, pole dance has once again been granted Observer Status by the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). But what does this mean? And why?

Earlier this month the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) announced that it had been awarded GAISF Observer Status for a further two years along with hopefuls such as dodgeball, kettle bell lifting and padel. Already recognised as a legitimate sport, GAISF Observer Status will essentially set pole dance on a path towards the Olympics.

This status was initially granted in 2017 and has now been renewed until 2022. GAISF is the umbrella organisation for all (Olympic and non-Olympic) international sports federations with 95 full members and 20 associate members governing specific sports worldwide.

“Globally, over the past few years we’ve seen pole dance rise above just being trendy to a point where the benefits of the sport for fitness training are highly recognised. The power and agility needed to perform on a pole is no different to any other recognised athlete in their chosen sport. By having to control body movements, spins, turns and pivots; pole is one of the best ways to develop strength, flexibility, coordination, balance and stamina. It requires great physical and mental exertion”, says Kathy Lee, Owner of The Pole Project studio in Cape Town.

Worldwide there are several organisations dedicated to regulating best practice for pole dance, developing a syllabus, offering instructor qualifications, as well as hosting international pole competitions. In South Africa you will find more than twenty studios around the country and a variety of competitions that celebrate the different categories of the sport, from athleticism to artistry.

“So, what are the implications of the IPSF being granted GAISF Observer Status for a further two years? It means more time for pole sports practitioners to learn, to succeed at a united code of conduct and a better chance of being considered for the Olympics. It also means more exposure for pole, because whilst it’s now considered a sport and the community is growing, it’s still one of the lesser knowns out there”.

The Pole Project is a pole dance studio and aerials arts playground based in Woodstock, Cape Town. It’s a space where everyday individuals from all walks of life use pole dance as an outlet for strength, creativity, sensuality and agility.

Studio owner, Lee is a former lawyer and a pole athlete in her own right. Her love for pole dance has taken her to train and perform all over the world. Lee created The Pole Project from a desire to share her passion and the spirit of pole dance with others, as an exciting way to explore the art of dance, and as a form of exercise to improve fitness, tone, strength and endurance.

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