Last Updated on February 5, 2023
This article contains a list of RED FLAGS to look out for when choosing a pole dancing studio.
If you’re thinking about joining a pole dancing studio, it’s important to do your research and make sure it’s the right fit for you. In this post, we’ll go over some common red flags to look out for when choosing a studio, so you can avoid any potential headaches and have a great experience.
This post is NOT about calling out any particular pole dancing studio in particular.
In my experience of teaching pole dancing in 3 different countries, there are lots of pole studios who encourage bad habits right from the beginning.
Many pole dancing studios offer an ‘open day’ or a free session ever so often to give new students a chance to try it out before committing to a block of classes.
Use that as an opportunity to spot these red flags 🚩🚩🚩!
1. Instructors Lifting Students Into Poses On The Pole
This is a practice that I’ve seen in about a third of the pole dancing studios and gyms that I’ve visited.
In some places, it’s common for the instructors to ‘lift’ the student into poses instead of ‘spotting and supporting’ them as they do it.
I’ve literally witnessed an instructor pick up a girl by her hips to ‘help’ her get into a pole dance trick.
How exactly this ‘helps’ her learn I’ll never know.
Spotting and supporting a student are very different to actually lifting them up into a pose.
2. Encouragement of Bad Form
Another red flag is when instructors frequently encourage bad form.
As a pole dance instructor I am no stranger to students who love to complain about things.
“Urgh, I hate this move”
“Do we HAVE to do this one? Can we do something else instead?”
“I don’t want to do this, I’mma sit this one out”
But when a pole student is exhibiting bad form and they refuse to do it any other way because they “can’t” then it’s up to the instructor to correct them and educate them.
In many pole studios, where they treat progression like a tick-box exercise, ticking off tricks week-by-week, they’re happy to allow students to continue learning bad form as long as they end up with something that resembles the intended trick.
This is a red flag because good form doesn’t just exist to look good. Good physical form prevents you from getting an injury or causing additional strain on your joints in the long term.
A pole dance instructor once taught me a “cheat” to doing a split grip hold by bending my lower wrist into an unatural position.
I stupidly tried it and my wrist hurt for weeks. It set back my own progress and made my real angry that I listened to a pole dancing “hack”
3. Allowing Students to Jump Into Inverts
This is controversial as about 50% of the studios I’ve visited have allowed this.
Inverts should be lifted into and not jumped into.
Firstly, jumping into an invert doesn’t even look remotely good, elegant or graceful. Secondly, this is how injuries and extra bruises happen.
It’s extremely common for beginner pole dancers to want to get ahead and learn moves such as a basic invert really early in their pole dancing journey.
I waited almost 5 months before I was even introduced to the concept of inverting!
It’s also common for pole dance instructors wanting their students to experience the sensation of inverting even if they’re not quite physically ready for it.
By forcing students to wait for their invert, students may end up getting bored, fatigued or frustrated with their lack of progress.
However, it’s one of those things that’s in the category of ‘short-term pain for long-term gain’ – waiting until you’re properly strong enough for an invert will make it safer and more rewarding for you.
If you rush your inverts. you risk picking up bad form early on which is damn hard to rid yourself of.
Instead, focus on your conditioning for inverts. Work on doing your knee tucks, remember to look back!
4. Poor Hygiene Practices
Even before the pandemic, there were pole dancing studios with incredibly poor hygiene practices.
It’s totally normal for pole studios to ask students to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer before and after classes. Common sense, right?
Another thing to expect is to be asked to clean your own pole after class is done. As students use grip aid products, lotions (even though they shouldn’t be!), deodorants and makeup/fake tan when using the pole, they do become dirty which is not pleasant for the next person who has to use it
Many pole dance studios don’t bother with this, and as mentioned earlier – some don’t even have running water which is a major red flag for me.
5. Lack Of Proper Spotting
Spotting is hugely important during a pole dancing class. If an instructor is a poor spotter, that’s a major red flag for me.
Spotting is a skill that needs to be learned. Being a pole dance instructor is a lot more than just being able to demonstrate the moves – you have to be able to physically support your learner’s bodies in awkward positions.
This means getting close and hands-on with your students when they’re barely dressed.
Some instructors are clearly uncomfortable with this and they shy away from spotting their students correctly. I’ve watched instructors stand by and watch beginners try fairly dangerous tricks for the first time while shouting directions at them.
What they needed – in that instance – was a guiding hand and some encouragement. They basically needed a spotter.
Poor spotting is a red flag for me when choosing a reputable pole dancing studio or gym.
6. Lack Of Facilities
So many pole dancing studios or gyms were refurbished into pole dance studios after being a different business. These studios were clearly finished in a rush and it definitely shows.
Look out for things in the studio that look run down – peeling paint, chipped or broken mirrors, etc.
So many pole dancing studios don’t even have bathrooms, drinking water or a changing area.
I walked into one studio in London where all the learner’s bags and clothes were in a pile in the corner while everyone just got changed out in the open. They all knew each other – but it’s preferable to get changed in private and have somewhere secure to keep your bag during classes.
All pole dancing studios should have bathrooms and drinking water. Why would they not!?
7. Overbooking Classes
This happens in almost half of the pole studios I’ve been involved with. It happens so often where there are too many students and not enough poles.
When everyone is paying the same price – this seems unfair if 2 or more students in that class end up having to share a pole.
During the pandemic and the aftermath of the lockdowns – this wouldn’t have been possible. But outside of Covid-times, this happens a lot.
2 or more students will always have to draw the short straw for that class and share a pole with another learner. Meaning they only get 50% of their class time and the rest they have to stand around waiting for their turn.
In one studio – if this happened then they always offered the affected student(s) an extra class free-of-charge to make up for this, which was nice.
I’ve ever been to classes with 12 students and 3 poles – OK, the poles were 15 foot tall, but it was a shambles. The poor students spent most of the class standing in a line in their panties and vest tops waiting for a turn on the pole.
See also: Pole dancing without a pole
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Pole Dancing Red Flags: Conclusion
I hope this blog post has given you some useful insights into what to look for when choosing a pole dancing studio.
By being aware of common red flags and doing your research first, you can ensure that you find a studio that is safe, welcoming, and fun.
Remember to trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
With the right studio, you can have a great experience and reach your pole dancing goals.