FARMINGDALE — Brittany Rogers never had muscular arms. That is, until she took up pole fitness classes.
Now, Rogers, 21, of Monmouth, looks forward to working out every week at Heaven-Lee Heights Inc., at 553 Maine Ave., where she gets a full body workout using a hollow steel pole that is 1 and 5/8 inches in diameter. She’s been attending classes since August.
“I love it,” Rogers said. “It’s a fresh outlook on fitness.”
The young woman is one of 55 students who participate in pole fitness classes — an extension of pole dancing — that requires using a vertical pole to its maximum potential, showing individuals the versatility of its use while improving muscle tone, flexibility, coordination, posture, and core strength.
“It’s a full body workout in an hour,” said Jenn Maroney, who has been instructing students since February.
Before opening the business, Maroney spent the past 10 years working out in her garage using vertical poles. She knew the routines from years of dance lessons she took as a youth.
Maroney said that sometimes people who inquire about the class are a little hesitant because they associate the exercise with the pole dancing that’s performed in strip clubs. Maroney wanted to steer clear of that and focus on fitness — there are no choreographed dances involved.
“I tell people they are more than welcome to stop by and observe a class,” she said. “Once people attend and they realize I don’t do stripper-style, they usually come back.”
Pole dancing has become more popular in the U.S. in recent years, incorporating spins, poses and invert moves on a pole that’s generally about 2 inches diameter. Maroney uses poles that are 1 and 5/8 inches in diameter because they’re easier for smaller women to grip, she said.
Rogers, who was apprehensive about taking the class, said she had a hard time doing the moves Maroney was teaching at first. But by the third week, she could spin.
“You can see yourself progress and realize what you can do,” Rogers said. She has since incorporated running and floor workouts into her exercise routine.
Maroney calls her classes a “judge-free zone.” There is no weight limit and women who attend classes range in age from their 20s to 50s, including four mothers and daughters. And there are a number of women who never enjoyed exercise who now attend faithfully.
“It’s not long before they become addicted to it,” Maroney said.
Maroney starts newcomers off in an introductory class, where they can get used to the routine. It includes learning four spins and building coordination.
In the introductory II class, students continue to learn spins and work on coordination, and they learn how to use their weight when working the pole, which Maroney said is among the hardest aspects of the class.
Maroney also introduces new grips and teaches students how to use their core more, as well as teaching them a few combination steps.
Students can get creative and flexible in the intermediate class as they learn how to pose upside down and do basic inverts and hang hands-free. The class incorporates spins, poses, floor work, inversions, and moves that require a person to go from pole to floor and floor to pole. “It’s a lot more vigorous,” Maroney said.
Several men have expressed interest in taking the class, Maroney said. She recently had her first male student, a man who attended with his wife.
She also offers open pole time so students can come in and practice.
Perhaps one of the most rewarding things about running the business, is watching people become more self-assured, Maroney said.
“It’s just amazing to see the change in people’s attitudes and how they carry themselves from the first time they walk through the doors,” she said.
As far as Maroney knows, she has the only pole fitness studio in the state.
Maroney said she is not associated with any large organizations, such as the Pole Fitness Association. Such organizations have sprung up across the country and world in the last couple of years, she said, and are trying to get pole fitness recognized as a national sport, perhaps even a sport at the Olympics.
She hopes these groups are successful in getting pole fitness recognized as a sport so she can attend the training.