Pole sport athletes demonstrate grace and stamina while battling perceptions
National championships held in Fredericton this weekend
Pole sports, which use a metallic vertical bar to perform acrobatic moves, require a lot of strength, stamina and the courage to battle perceptions.
Dozens of pole sport athletes were in Fredericton this weekend for the Canadian Pole Sport and Arts Federation national championships.
Many people associate the pole with strip clubs. Ashley Wiggins, the federation's president, said she doesn't deny the similarities, but explains the sport requires a high degree of athleticism and isn't sexual.
"We don't fight it from that perspective, because there is an art to that style of pole, but it is not our style of pole dancing."
The art form originated in India over 500 years ago, and it was only in the 20th century that the acrobatic sport became perceived as sexual, she said.
"The more you dig into it, the more you find it is even older than you thought," she said.
Intense training required
Wiggins got into pole sports after leaving the military. She said she's played and competed in a number of sports, including taekwondo and basketball, but nothing has challenged her like pole sports.
Being successful at it requires intense training for your entire body, so you can support your weight while in the air, said Wiggins.
"You're going to have to be able to lift your weight, and lift it from right to left, and all around."
Pole athletes this weekend competed in two variations: pole sport, which is similar to gymnastics, and pole arts, which is more creative and performance-based. Aerial artists also competed at this weekend's event.
About 30 athletes competed in front of judges from across Canada, the U.S. and South Korea, in the hopes of advancing to the Pole Sports and Arts World Federation international championships.
With files from Information Morning Fredericton and Radio-Canada