I’ve dreamt of having a dance studio in my own home for years. However, like most New Yorkers, I live in a tiny apartment that doesn’t allow me to dedicate a large amount of space for pole dancing (or anything for that matter). But with a bit of creativity and planning, I created a flexible studio space where I can practice safely. Here’s how I did it, plus some tips if you’re also trying to pole dance in a small space!
Part 1: Evaluating the space
My partner and I recently moved into a 2 bedroom apartment. We decided to use one of the rooms as an activity room where we could share the space as a dual pole dance and music production studio.
In order to find the optimal place to put the pole, I took measurements of the room and of the furniture that would go into that room. The goal was to find an arrangement that would maximize the clearance around the pole and also ensure that the pole was installed underneath a ceiling stud for security.
Based on the measurements and stud locations, I created a diagram of the room and furniture pieces to scale on graph paper. Next, I cut out the pieces of furniture and mapped out all potential layouts.
Once I had all the pieces laid out in front of me, deciding on the final layout was quite intuitive.
At the shortest distance, there is 3 ft of clearance from the pole; at the longest distance, 4.5 ft. A minimum of 5 ft of clearance in all directions around the pole is recommended. However, I think that poling in an area with as little as 2.5 ft clearance is doable–although you would be limited to practicing moves that keep you closer to the pole. While that wouldn’t be the ideal situation, having some pole space is better than having no pole space.
(After anchoring down the pieces of furniture, there are still miscellaneous objects that I need to move every time I pole: a cat scratcher, an air purifier, and a rolling chair.)
Part 2: Setting up the pole
I opted for the 45mm stainless steel XPERT PRO X-Pole because of its solid reputation and ability to easily switch between static and spin modes. The pole is held in by tension but shouldn’t budge if installed properly. The X-Pole website suggests that an additional extension piece isn’t required for ceilings up to 9’1”. However, after the initial installation, I realized that the pole was too short for my 9’0” ceiling and purchased an additional 250mm extension piece.
Installation was rather straightforward. Per the instructions, I fitted the individual pieces together and extended the pole to the appropriate length. The trickiest part was getting the pole perfectly upright. But with the help of another person and a level, it was easy to do.
One thing the X-Pole guide doesn’t mention is that when you get a new pole, it’s extremely slippery because there’s a layer of protective film on it for shipping purposes. To get the film off, I wiped down the pole vigorously 2-3 times with apple cider vinegar.
Part 3: Shifting my mindset
When sharing multi-purpose space, a challenge can be getting into the right headspace to pole. I find it difficult to motivate myself to pole in the same space I also eat, sleep, and work. To help shift my mindset, I use props, music, and lights to change the ambiance and recreate the experience of being in a proper studio.
- yoga mat and yoga blocks –
To warm-up. I like a thick 1/8 inch mat because I have sensitive knees. You can get these for pretty cheap ($8 for blocks, $10-20 for a mat) at TJ Maxx or Marshalls.
- alcohol spray bottle, microfiber cloth, and Dry Hands –
To stick to the pole. I got my spray bottle and 50% isopropyl alcohol from Dollar Tree.
- phone tripod –
To get the best angle to record my practices.
- mirror –
To correct my form. A mirror elevates the space but it’s not a necessity. Watching video recordings of myself is overall far more effective for form correction.
I use a mirror I found on the side of the street attached to a dresser. I removed it from the dresser using a power drill, brought it home, and mounted it onto the wall with mirror clips.
- speaker –
To set the mood. I have the Onyx Studio, which is a portable Bluetooth speaker. The sound quality is impressive for its size.
- mood lighting –
To further set the mood. I have the Nanoleaf Aurora, which is a set of wall-mounted lighting panels you can control and program from your phone. It’s discontinued but Nanoleaf makes a similar model called the Rhythm.
Part 4: Deciding how to train
Up until quarantine, I had been poling consistently for almost 2 years–but only under instructor guidance at a studio. I had never previously trained on my own and honestly didn’t know how to. Once I had everything set up, I took a few live virtual classes to begin feeling comfortable poling in a new space by myself. Instructors I’ve taken pole class with include:
- Jeni Janover
As engaging virtually as she is in real life. Jeni breaks down moves with crystal clarity.
- Ariel Xenia
Specializes in beginner spin pole. Ariel is incredibly patient and gives super-specific feedback.
After warming up the pole on my own and taking a few live classes, I gained the confidence to train by myself and the understanding of which moves I could safely execute given my space constraints.
Lately, I’ve been watching online video tutorials to polish tricks I’ve been working on and to learn new ones.
When I’m craving the structure of a pole class, I’ll follow along to a video from Body and Pole Online. I like B&P online because of the plethora of classes to choose from (400+) and its user-friendly interface. They offer a free 2-week trial and the first month for $10. After that, it’s $20/month.
Recording your practices
One huge upside of training at home is having the freedom to fully record my practices. Most studios have a no-cell-phone policy during class.
The importance of recording myself is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my pole journey.
Recording your practices is important because:
- You can self-correct.
You can zero in on exactly what did and didn’t work so you don’t have to keep making the same mistakes. I compare my recording to a video of someone executing the trick correctly and adjust accordingly.
- You can track your progress.
Seeing my own progress motivates me to keep training and improving.
When I first began poling, I didn’t record myself because I didn’t want myself looking like an idiot immortalized. I cringe when watching myself 80% of the time, but I have to remind myself that I am practicing, not performing.
If you aren’t willing to look like a foolish beginner, you’ll never become a graceful master.
Learning to watch yourself objectively is a form of self-awareness, which is critical to growth and improvement. At the end of the day, you are your best coach, critic, and cheerleader.
I can’t express how incredibly grateful I am for this new space and for my pole family. Although we’re apart, thank you for keeping in touch.
With the uncertainty of fitness centers reopening permanently in the near future, I’m working on developing a sustainable and long term home pole training schedule and practice.
For those who pole at home–how do you train? Please share your tips and advice in the comments below. I could use them!
Until next time.