How Many Calories Does Pole Dancing Burn?

Ah, yes. THAT question. :-)

One of the great things about starting a pole dance or pole fitness class are the health benefits – from weight loss to muscle building and toning, pole can have an amazing impact on your body. Add in increased flexibility, endorphins, and even the confidence and connection to oneself that pole can build, and you’ve got an activity that can change your life in many ways.

But, what about the calories?

Let’s face it – calorie burning is just one of those things that a lot of us think about. “Did I work off that donut? Those gummi bears? That extra bit of cheese?” (Okay, maybe not everybody eats as crappy as I do…) A few weeks ago, I posted about my quest to track my calories better. I’ve been keeping up with my food journal via the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, which has been a decent tracker – there are tons of foods already logged into the database, which can make it easier to find and track what you’re eating, but you can also add your own entries if you have a product label handy (there’s also an option to scan product bar codes, but I haven’t tried it). You also have the option of entering your workouts to track calories expended, but the totals are a little suspect – and the options aren’t great. Naturally, there was no option for pole dancing or pole fitness in the database. :-) The results that I found in running online searches weren’t great, either. In general, they quoted about 250 calories, but there was no way to really quantify it. I wanted something that I felt was more accurate for me. Also, since I started tracking calories in an attempt to shed some extra weight, I wanted more accuracy.

After some research, I purchased a Polar Ft40F heart rate monitor to wear during my pole and lyra classes, to try to get an average of calories burned in each class.

Polar FT40F White (Women’s Heart Rate Monitor)

I’ve been wearing it in every class for the last three weeks. The model features a watch band computer that logs and tracks the results, as well as a chest strap and monitor attachment to wear while working out. You have to enter your stats in the computer in order to get proper results, i.e. height, weight, age. So, keep in mind that this data is based on my specific stats!

Here are my results (so far):

Pole Class 1: 561 calories burned, 100 minutes in length

Lyra Class 1: 491 calories burned, 60 minutes in length (private session)

Pole Class 2: 586 calories burned, 90 minutes in length

Lyra Class 2: 423 calories burned, 96 minutes in length (full class)

Pole Class 3: 523 calories burned, 100 minutes in length

Each of my pole classes is scheduled to be 90 minutes in length – I start the monitor as soon as we begin our warm up and keep it on until after our freestyle at the end of class, when I notice my heart rate falling again. My class spends about half an hour on our warm up, which consists of stretching, calisthenics, and some aerobic activity from things like ab sets, planks, leg work, etc. Our warm up is tough and meant to condition for aerial – it’s less about connecting to the music and the flow of dance and expression, and more about getting you to the point of being able to get your butt over your head.

We work on a lot of pole tricks at my level – fewer spins and floor work (although, it is included depending on the lesson for the class), more climbs, inversions, mid-air tricks, lifts, and aerial training. While we’re not constantly moving, when we are moving, it’s usually in larger, more difficult movements. So, there’s a lot of up and down with the exertion – which I’ve heard burns more calories, but I’m not a trainer, so I can’t attest to that for sure. :-) An example of what we worked on in my last class: our warm up, followed by revisiting the junkyard swing so we could attempt it in mid-air, then some work on shoulder mount flips (taking the mount into a pencil, then flipping the legs back down to a pole sit), multiple goes at conditioning our aerial twisted grip pencils and ayeshas, a big Chinese grip full body spin, various inversions, and then our freestyle, which was two songs with everyone dancing (4 students in class that night).

I took two different types of Lyra classes in the last three weeks – an hour long class that ended up being a private (I was the only student registered) and a 90 minute class with six students (and two hoops). I worked harder in the hour class because I was the only student (and boy, did I feel it later), but I still got in a good work out in the 90 minute class. I worked on a variety of tricks in both classes, like splay leg inversions, front balances, and a number of different poses.

Based on my personal data, I burn an average of 557 calories per pole class. I don’t have enough data to do an average for Lyra classes on their own (and I had two different kinds of classes), but when factored in with the pole classes, the average for calories burned doing an aerial arts class is approximately 517. Lyra burns less than pole overall, but a more intense Lyra class (i.e. my one hour long private class) can burn as much as a pole class, even if the Lyra class is shorter in length. All of the pole classes I took were not super packed with students, enabling me to have more opportunities to get on the pole – I also tried to be mindful of staying still for too long, making a point to try to keep busy so I could burn more calories. Obviously, I would get more accurate results by factoring more classes, which is something I intend to do – I want to continue to track my aerial classes from here on out and see what I come up with!

Now, as I said, these results are based on my specific statistics…which, after some consideration, I’ll share in the spirit of full disclosure. But, if anyone asks, I’m totally the weight it says on my driver’s license. :-)

Age: 32, Weight: approximately 156lbs, Height: 5’6″

Also, in the interest of full disclosure: I started tracking calories because I wanted to lose a bit of weight. Yes, I want to slim down for vanity related reasons, but I also wanted to see if it made my transition into aerial easier. I have gained a lot of muscle since starting pole, but I don’t appear to have lost fat. In fact, my weight has fluctuated up and down over the last two years. While I’m definitely stronger and fitter, I’m not any thinner – I’m a size bigger than when I started. Now, this is not to discourage anyone thinking about pole dance or pole fitness as a weight loss exercise – because people DO lose weight doing it. I just really like candy. And bacon. :-)

I hope this helps answer some of the questions surrounding how many calories are burned in a pole dance or pole fitness class! I’ll update again in the future, when I have more results, but in the meantime – Happy Poling!

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About Danielle C

Actress, writer, consumer of too much sugar, cat mom, dog auntie, pole enthusiast, amateur foodie, local explorer. Often mouthy, occasionally political.

Posted on October 16, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. What a helpful post! I’ve wondered the a ton myself. My stats are similar to yours (I’m a hair shorter and almost 10 years older) but I’m not as advanced as you and it sounds like our class doesn’t contain quite as much cardio so obviously it’d be less calories burned, but still – what a fabulous empirical benchmark! Thank you!

    • Thank you!! I am hoping the stats help people out – it was really frustrating for me to not have clear answers! :-) I think people will burn differently for a lot of reasons: fitness/conditioning level, age, weight, level of exertion required in the class content, etc, but it’s always good to have a basic idea! And, while we do work on advanced tricks, never underestimate how hard you work for floor work and basic conditioning: some the times I have been the most exhausted have been after classes with heavy floor exercises or repeatedly climbing conditioning!

      • Good point – my husband reminded me of that too, last night when when I told him about this. I come home exhausted – I worked hard! :)

      • I suspect it is pretty common for women to apply the “I didn’t do enough” mentality to pole – I tend to beat myself up for it, without stopping to realize that I actually DID do a lot and deserve to reward myself for it!! :-)

  2. Awesome information. I am right by you. 34, 5’7″ and 150 lbs. I have not lost any weight in the 2 years I have been doing pole workouts, although I don’t do as much cardio as I used to. The muscle and body shaping has been great, but I am ready to slim up the tummy a bit as the fat literally gets in the way of doing inversions or flipping over.

    • Aww! I feel you on the maneuverability issues, though. While I don’t have the greatest flexibility, some of my curves have been known to get in the way from time to time. But, I am working with it. After about a year of conditioning for aerial, I am finally starting to be feel a little more solid in my initial twisted grip moves, holding them for longer and with less wobbling. I haven’t lost any significant weight in the last year, but my body has caught up to what it needs to make it work. My instructor always says that even a few pounds can throw off aerial balance, so that is another reason I started paying more attention to these things. :-)

  3. Thanks for this! I have often wondered about this as well. :)

  4. I love the detail you put into your posts :O New blog to watch<33

  5. I, for one, can definitely confirm that losing some weight does make aerial so much easier!!!

  6. Thank you, finally know how many calories we burn! :)

  7. I’m in the level below top at my pole studio (have the same hrm as you too – how awesome are they?) And on average in a 60 minute class I burn between 450-700 calories. I’ve lost 12kg since I started pole dancing in march last year and I’m pretty strong, loads of muscle. My abs are just about to start showing :)

    You get out of it what you put in. If you go hard in your warm up you’ll get yourself to a heart rate that burns more fat. If you’re the person who stands there watching everyone else instead of practicing, well you probably won’t burn much.

    • I totally agree – I think you do get more if you push harder, but I also think your overall fitness level has a big hand in it. Another gal in my class is a long distance runner and burns half of the calories I burn as a result – her body just works differently because of the conditioning from running.

  8. Thanks for the awesome post and great info! I have the same height and weight but I am six years younger, and my pole classes aren’t as hardcore as yours! I have gained weight over the last two years I have been pole dancing, and I know a lot of that must be muscle, but I have the same problem where I feel like I haven’t lost much fat. My thighs feel like they have slimmed and become more toned, but my stomach seems to have gotten bigger (I’m assuming because there are abs under there somewhere). I eat pretty well and I take good raw vegan pre- and post- workout supplements and creatine. I have always suspected that being on birth control has affected my ability to lose weight, and I know I should do more cross training and other types of working out, but they aren’t fun like pole so I am not motivated to do it. It is starting to become very frustrating that I don’t feel like my physical appearance reflects the exercise that I do.

    • I totally understand your frustration – I feel it a lot, too. I have all of this muscle and strength, but I am not as slim as I would like, and I add to my frustration by being upset when my slimmer counterparts easily get something I have been working on for months. I have been trying to make changes with my diet and calorie intake, in hopes to see some weight loss. I am still not sure what frustrates me more: feeling chubby sometimes, or not being able to advance as quickly as I would like!! :-)

  9. that’s a really interresting post ! and diarie !

  10. Thanks for figuring this out! I always wondering how many calories I was actually burning. I usually just put “aerobic dance” into my exercise tracker on my phone. I always thought it was probably an overestimate of how many calories I really burn, but it seems like it’s pretty accurate based on your findings. I’m getting more of a workout than I thought! Woo!

    • You’re welcome! I think the results are different for everyone based on a lot of factors, but each class I take seems to be right around the same numbers. A classmate of mine was saying her total was much lower, but she is also a long distance runner and burns calories differently – even in a spinning class, her totals are low. I am going to keep up with tracking and see if anything changes over time!!

  11. Id been looking for pole blog and happen to run into yours =)

    Question- do you wear the watch on your wrist during pole class? I mean, I’d been wanting to get a HRM for awhile for poling but I don’t think I can climb with a watch on my wrist!

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!

    Thanks!!
    Mechie =)

    • Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I did wear the watch when I was doing the research – I didn’t find it difficult to climb, but it was a little harder to do certain spins. However, I found it easier to manage it when I was wearing my wrist wraps from Vertical Swag. I would put the wraps on my wrists, then add the watch on top. It stretches the band to the last hole, but it fits me. :-)

  12. I always wondered how many calories I was burning during pole class! I have to get myself one of those watches

    • I think it varies from person to person, depending on fitness level. A classmate of mine burns far less, but she also does marathons, so her fitness level is different than mine.

  13. Hi Danielle

    I very much enjoyed reading your post. I’ve wanted to figure out how many calories I burn during pole too and as you say there hasn’t really been a lot of research been put into it. I think I might invest in one of those watches too as I use the MyFitnessPal app aswell.

    Also what is the Junkyard spin? I’ve just tried googling and YouTubing it but didn’t get any hits :( sounds like fun and I’m wanting to give it ago! :)

    • Hi Emma!

      The calorie burn is different for everyone, so it might be really great for you to try to track it for yourself!

      The junkyard swing may have another name, I am not sure. If I remember correctly, it comes from a reverse grab spin, but you end up hooking your leg during the grab. It’s a little hard to explain without a visual – I have seen advanced polers do a similar move high on spinning pole, but I can only do it from the floor on static. I’ll see if I can find a video or shoot one to upload on the Facebook fan page for my blog. :-)

  14. Thank you, this was informative!

  15. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site.
    It’s a very easy oon the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often.
    Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Exceptional work!

  1. Pingback: How Many Calories Does Pole Dancing Burn? | United Pole Artists | Pole News

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