Pole Qualifications

I first started pole dancing many, many moons ago. When I first started, there wasn’t really much in the way of formal qualifications. There didn’t seem to be too much in the way of universal agreements. I suppose in someways, there still isn’t. Levels vary from school to school – some people only have 4 levels, I’ve known some to go up in to the 20’s. Some have letters and others only have Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced.

When I started taking lessons, I didn’t really think about who was going to teach me. I found the first (and only) pole school near me. I knew someone that had taken lessons with my soon to be instructor and thought it was the best way to go. I stayed there for years.

Pole dancing is a funny old sport. When you study to be a personal trainer, there are so many elements to your training that when you are officially qualified through a registered training program, your clients can be confident knowing you have the appropriate skills to help them.

With other forms of dance / fitness programs, there is varying levels of knowledge and participation required to become qualified. Some are one day courses where you need to turn up and take part, others have a minimum amount of hours which can sometimes equate to a year long course.

Pole ‘Training’

I once worked for a company – who have now gone bust, teaching hen parties. I initially started working for them as I had years of pole dance experience and was promised full training. I had to work for them for a certain length of time or risk paying back a percentage of £1000 to cover training costs. I thought great! This training is going to be brilliant.

When I went to my ‘training’, I was shocked to discover that I was merely watching someone else teaching a class and was then left to my own devices. I didn’t really mind too much as I’m quite capable (I think!) and had been teaching others dance classes before then. They provided a DVD of a ‘routine’ to teach. Back then, I already had a pole at home so I was able to do practice this routine. I thought a few of the moves would be too difficult for absolute beginners and so changed them for slightly more appropriate ones.

I assumed that they would only use instructors for pole dancing who already had some pole dancing experience. Once again I was wrong! I had a trainee instructor come along to one of my pole classes. I had some extra time and so decided to show her how to do a few basic pole moves. She came back a month later and was meant to be the class instructor and it was up to me to let the company know how her teaching was.

In my opinion, one month of pole dance experience simply isn’t enough to allow you to teach. In this case I think it may have been about 3 or 4 hours of pole dance experience over that month. After attempting to get through the warm-up, we were on to the spins. I had to take over almost immediately to demonstrate the moves. It was a bit worrying to think that the company thought that those few hours were enough to become trained and hopefully qualified to teach pole!

Real Pole Qualifications

Before I went on an instructors course, I had very little real knowledge about them. I simply thought that getting any pole qualification was better than no qualification. I looked at quite a lot of courses all of the country – I was willing to travel if the qualification was worth it. To my surprise, a lot of places offered online qualifications. You would do some online learning and then send videos across. Although some of these are fully registered courses, my view was that if I was going to pay money for a qualification, I wanted to physically be in a pole studio. I wanted to learn something. I wanted to have a proper, recognised qualification.

In the end, my decision of which course to choose, simply came down to timing. There was a PDC recognised Pole School that I know has a great reputation where I used to live. I really wanted to do that course, but simply couldn’t make the dates they offered. Instead of waiting for another 6 months / 1 year for that course to come around again, I decided to go for another school with closer dates.

How To Choose Your Course

When it comes to choosing the right course, you have to make sure that it suits you. This can be a variety of factors – the date, costs, level of qualification, if it’s a registered course, what you have to do to actually get your qualification. If you’re going to spend money on something, you need to be selfish and make sure it suits your needs.

Qualifications are great. They give (you and) your clients confidence in your abilities. As long as you’re on a registered course, you will be properly trained on how to teach a class. If you are self-employed you will find out everything you need to know about licenses and an intro to taxes. Possibly more importantly, you will get a syllabus to make sure that you teach all of the moves and teach them correctly. You will keep all of your students safe, well and happy.

My Training

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of training I was given on my course. This included breaking down all of the moves and giving them a go, going through strength training exercises, flexibility work, how to structure a class, teaching a class and even choreography.

My qualification required me to do some written work as well as send in some footage to then be assessed.

Now that I’ve been through this training I have realised that the standard of qualified instructors with these courses are very high. I can’t speak for those courses that aren’t registered but it’s safe to say that registered courses are the way to go.

The best thing about the course was that I got to meet a lot of pole dancers. It was such great fun. Sure, I came away with a lot of bruises but I also learnt a lot too. I’m sure I’ll always be in contact with the girls I met that day too.

Money well spent, I’d say! 🙂

Comments From the PoleFreaks Community:

  1. I’m personally Certified with Vertical Dance as when I was starting out, pole certifications didn’t exist. I am also a Personal Trainer & Certified Strength Coach. Vertical Dance was one of the hardest I’ve completed. Between written and practical exams and teaching classes it was great.

    My believe is that just because you can pole dance does not make you a great instructor. The same goes with training. Learning how to breakdown and perform the moves safely, spot clients and trouble shoot is essential. I am happy that the pole community is beginning to evolve and require such credentials.

  2. In some cases I think this qualification is needed. But as with many things, some people are simply more gifted than others, can reflect their knowledge to their students, with or without a qualification. It’s a fact that experience is often better than any course one can take, and it’s my experience that often, even with qualification pole teachers are, well, not good.

    Pole sport is young in the form it is now. It’s not easy to find very experienced teachers or pole dancers to teach and if you can find them, perhaps they are charging more than many studios can afford. This way a number of girls that, perhaps, have never done any sports in their life, end up as instructors. And this is what I think is dangerous. I have been to too many classes where the instructor has no idea how to “use the body” in a safe way. Stretches and inverts are being done without any care being taking about the way they are done. It’s easy to get injured in pole, and it’s easier to get injured if you’re being taught by someone who doesn’t know how to use their own body. Of course we all want to learn new tricks, and we want to get them now!! But this often results in sore and pulled muscles.

    I haven’t been to a pole qualification instructor course, but I have been to a classes where the teachers apparently had one. I was shocked to see how simple things were being taught in a way that is harmful for the body. Personally, I think that more focus should be put on how the body works and how movements should be executed avoiding injuries and I also believe that more strength and flexibility (yoga) trainings should be included in the pole trainings. Because that’s were it all begins, and a strong, flexible person, who is aware of the body is at lower risk of getting injured.

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