Studio owner and instructor Kristy Craig says she is simply catering to her adult clients’ demands.
“My existing students were asking about it for their children. They were saying, ‘My daughter plays on my pole at home all the time, I’d love her to actually learn how to do things property and not hurt herself,’ ” said Ms. Craig, who is a certified fitness and aerobics instructor.
Ms. Craig, who first took a pole dance class four years ago and never worked on the pole as an adult entertainer, said she will keep the focus strictly on athletics. “I treat it just like gymnastic classes…. I don’t teach any of the adult moves,” she said.
Ms. Craig said as pole dancing evolves as a sport, it’s being stripped of its gentleman club roots.
“For competitions they actually have rules and regulations that there can be nothing sexual, or any article of clothing removed, and in some you aren’t allowed to wear high heels. The sexuality is being taken out of it. It’s highlighting the gymnastic, athletic and circus acrobatics aspect.”
The instructor says her response to critics of the classes is: “Do you see anything provocative going on here? Because there isn’t. This is strictly about fitness.”
In 2010, Vancouver’s Tantra Fitness made news for similarly allowing underage girls (in group classes as young as nine and private classes as young as five) to join with parental permission.
Tantra owner Tammy Morris, a former exotic dancer, stressed at the time that the classes are not sexualized — girls do not learn to strip or grind.
“The kids just love it,” said Ms. Morris, president of the Canadian Pole Fitness Association. “They have no association with it or think there is anything wrong or bad about it. That’s an adult putting that on them.”
She said the association does not have an official stance on age minimums for pole dance lessons.
The association is holding its championships at the Edgewater Casino in Vancouver in October. Competitors for that event must be of legal age, because of the venue.
“As the public becomes more educated and as more competitions are happening, it will start to be seen more as a sport,” she said, rather than being associated with stripping.