Climbing the Ranks (nay, Poles) of Athleticism
Dancers at the ready. On your mark. Get set. Pole.
The International Pole Sports Federation is attempting to climb to new heights. The IPSF has made an application to be recognized by the International Olympic committee as an Olympic sport. This development comes after the IPSF was confirmed as a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency code.
What could this mean for the future of pole fitness and the Olympic games? Do pole athletes deserve to be considered among the ranks of Olympic athletes? Controversy lies in the stigma behind pole dancing. Though in the past decade pole fitness has climbed the ranks of the fitness industry and has become more widely accepted as an outlet for conditioning, strength development and improving self-esteem, it is still widely viewed as an unsavory moonlighting job. The athleticism behind pole fitness is often diminished because of the assumption that the only reason anyone would want to advance their abilities is to make a few extra bucks on the weekend. It is important to note that there are aspects of the IPSF that align pretty directly with the ideals that are the basis of the IOC. Let's take a look:
International Pole Sports Federation:
"(Maintain the objective) To perpetuate, improve, and extend the sport of pole sports throughout the world."
"(Maintain the objective) To follow and actively support the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its principles and goals."
"(Maintain the objective) To encourage each country to contribute to and adopt our criteria and have a national federation offering the same high level of support to their own pole sports athletes, judges and supporters with our sponsorship."
"(Maintain the objective) To stimulate the interest of people in healthy sport participation through pole sports."
International Olympic Committee:
"The IOC has long recognized that it has a significant advocacy role to play in the promotion of sport and physical activity at all levels around the world. "
"(Supporting) any investment in the fight against doping and against match-fixing, manipulation of competition and related corruption, whether it be for education, testing, research, logistics or staffing, cannot be considered as a cost but as an investment in the clean athletes."
Hungry for Gold: made to promote healthy body image and the importance of healthy eating and exercise habits.
Those listed above, taken directly from the IPSF site and the site for the IOC prove that pole fitness could hold its own in the world of the Olympics. Not only that, but pole athletes are already expected to uphold those Olympic-like standards in an athletic, ethical and societal light according to the standards of the IPSF. Moving on to another argument against pole fitness and its well-deserved spot in the Olympic games: Where does pole belong? Considering athletic ability and physique, it's a pretty easy answer. Pole would fall under the gymnastics category, right? Well, maybe not according to some. The negative stigma that curses pole fitness means that most consider a pole routine mature content. Therefore, the majority of today's gymnasts would not be permitted to participate. In addition, the pole fitness portion of the Games could not be aired in many countries due to censorship. That's where we truly have to enforce the lack of sexuality behind pole fitness on a competitive level. These competitors are just that: COMPETITORS. They train for years, they compete, they follow nutrition and exercise regimens in order to prepare their bodies for their sport. Not much different than Phelps in the pool or Biles on the beam, right? In addition, there are certain rules behind floor, beam, etc. routines that prevent athletes from performing less-than-PG content. If they break these rules, points are docked. We have to consider that pole fitness in the context of the Olympic games would follow this same protocol. Routines would serve the same purposes: to display strength and ability; to promote health, fitness and healthy body image; and to display the athleticism of the human body after proper training and nutrition. Bottom line: what do you think? Even members of the pole community seem to be split on the issue. Does pole deserve a place in the Games? Or should it stay in the shadows of the fitness industry and serve as an outlet for women (and men) of all shapes, sizes and ages to increase self-confidence and grow into more healthy individuals?