Two pole dancers doing inverted routines.

Pole dancing is a showcase of endurance, strength, skill, and overall athleticism. It’s a challenging sport that many women bravely take on for its many perks. While it may look effortless and sexy, it’s a full-body workout that takes a lot of practice and patience. Devote enough time to your practice, and you’ll reap physical gains, such as increased strength, flexibility, and coordination.

Moreover, showing up to class regularly improves your confidence, a priceless benefit that pole enthusiasts of all levels can attest to. These Filipina pole dancers share how the sport improves their and empowers them.

Trying Something New in a Supportive Community

For Mikey Labrador, trying something new was a confidence booster in itself. She took her first class in 2017 after watching a pole dancer perform at a club. “I had just quit my job and we were celebrating at a club. Once she started dancing the rest of the world kind of melted away. Every movement oozed with confidence. She was graceful, strong, sexy... and 20 feet in the air she looked like the most powerful person in the room,” Mikey shares.

“I was extremely at the time and my self-esteem was practically non-existent but seeing her perform felt like I was opening a window into the future. I needed and desired that confidence she had for myself, and it felt like pole dancing was the path to getting there. I booked a class the next day.”

Having struggled with and body dysmorphia issues from being overweight, Mikey found pole dancing demanding but extremely rewarding. “Because of pole, I always try to reflect more on what my body needs. I had to have a harsh reality talk with myself that if I wanted to take pole seriously, I needed to eat, but I also needed to accept that this is my body, and it can be strong regardless of what it looks like.”

Moreover, Mikey thinks giving pole dancing a shot was a confidence booster in itself. “Stepping into the classroom for the first time can be scary, but simply showing up for yourself is a sign that you’re capable.” 

She adds, “The community also helped raise my self-esteem a lot, I think because it’s so open to experimentation and exploration. Some people want to feel more covered up while doing pole, while others will wear . Whatever way you choose to pole is always valid, and discovering how you want to and movement is all part of the journey.”

Building Confidence Through Diversity and Inclusion

Bea Perdi started pole dancing in 2023.“I have always been a fan of the sport, but I felt like I couldn’t do it because of my . Since I was turning 30, I thought, “F**k it let’s go,” and I did it!” she shares.

Even as a newbie, Bea has noticed a difference in her athleticism. “It gives you a lot of upper body strength.I learned to do a pull-up, which I was never able to do before trying out pole dancing. But to be honest, I do it more for my ! It challenges my mind how I can execute tricks even if I am a beginner.”

Bea explains, “The pole community is one of the most supportive groups I have ever met. My classmates always cheer me on and help me with tricks. Another thing is, in pole dancing, you need to wear a sports bra and shorts to be able to do tricks. Seeing people from diverse backgrounds and inspire me to do better.”

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Rising to the Challenge

Kristel Yap, who also started attending pole dancing classes in 2023, fell in love with fitness because of the practice. “I enjoyed challenging my strength and taking videos of everyone’s graceful movements, so I continued with once-a-week classes. Our teachers demonstrate a routine so effortlessly, but you feel the weight of the entire world when you do it yourself. It’s quite funny. Seeing my progress week-on-week is exhilarating.”

Kristel is also pleased with how pole dancing has improved her fitness, , immunity, and mood. “I am the most toned I have been my entire life. I still have the same frame, but my arms and legs are now defined and shaped nicely. I lost a lot of excess fat on my torso as well. Strength-wise, I am not sure I am better at , but I feel more confident with functional movement.”

She adds, “As a person traumatized by performing, who would only lip sync even the National Anthem, or pretend to be sick when school performances came up, I definitely challenged myself by getting into ‘dance’.”

Pole dancing may be intimidating, but it’s worth a spot on your bucket list. The self-esteem boost and fitness benefits are a mere bonus to the real reward: doing something for yourself and having fun with it. These strong and fearless women think so, too.