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.
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!