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Pole Kinematics: The Physics of Pole Dancing

The complexity of pole dance is absolutely incredible! Combinations of movements from lifts to flips to aerial body waves leaves audiences stunned saying: “Whoa….that last performance defied the laws of gravity!!!”. It’s important to understand fundamental physics as it relates to pole dance for several reasons. Just to name a few reasons, understanding physics will help you (1) improve your pole dance technique; (2) helps you pole dance safely as you know figure out what exactly your limits are; and (3) overall, helps your pole dance performances look much cleaner and cooler from an audience’s perspective. 😀

There are many pole moves, including spins, static holds, and drops, that can be learned about more using fundamental physics. Today I will be going over one fundamental concept: Speed.

First, let’s define what speed is. For the purpose of Pole Physics, let’s just say that speed is this: how fast you, the pole dancer, goes.

How fast can you climb to the top of the pole?

How fast can you do a fireman spin?

How fast can you do a drop split to the ground that wows your audience unexpectedly?

Now for the nerdy definition, let’s take it back to high school physics class. Speed (s) can be defined as distance (d) divided by time (t) like seen in the equation below:

equation

For all those math heroes out there, you can tell just by looking at the equation that speed is directly proportional to distance. So according to this equation, this means that if distance increases, speed will also increase (when the time remains the same). You can also tell by looking at this equation that speed is inversely proportional to time. Meaning, if time decreases, speed will then increase (when distance remains the same).

So let’s put this to practical use: If I am a pole dancer and I want to increase the speed of my flying body spin, I have to look at two components: Distance and Time. From the equation above, we know that to make my flying body look really fast, I must:

 

  1. Increase the distance that I travel while executing the spin and/or;
  2. Decrease the time it takes for me to complete the spin

 

So right before you execute this spin, here is one mindset you can have that will help:

 

For me to do a fast flying body spin, I must travel a maximum distance, outwards from the pole and back, in a short amount of time. Once I kick off into the spin, I will focus on extending my body as far away from the pole as possible (without losing grip of the pole). This will create maximum distance between me and the pole. The shorter amount of time I do this spin, the faster the spin will be.

The cool thing about this is that, in many cases, advanced pole dancers follow physics principles intuitively. In other words, when you master a fast move correctly, you are utilizing physics/the laws of motion in your technique, without necessarily knowing exactly how or why. It just feels right in your gut. Have you ever practiced a pole spin (a flying body spin for example) and knew that you did the trick correctly because “it felt right.” Well, that’s because intuitively your body was able to utilize specific laws of motion necessary to execute that spin the way you want it to look.

In terms of physics and pole, speed is just one component of hundreds of physics topics that can be discussed within pole dance. I’ll be going over these concepts in more depth on Friday, June 5th at 10:30AM for the Free Workshop, “The Physics of Pole”. See you there! 😀

Alex Asuzu

Alexandria is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and has a Bachelor’s of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Biophysics. Alexandria started pole dancing in June 2010 in Washington, DC as a fun way to stay in shape and to practice self-awareness and appreciation. Thanks to pole dance, Alexandria has developed higher esteem for herself and she adores the way her body looks…..and she wouldn’t want to have it any other way! Being plus-sized herself, Alexandria started a pole fitness blog in 2014 called "Curvy Pole Dancer" that is centered towards full-figured women who are learning to pole dance. She currently lives in Rockville, MD and works in IT.
Alex Asuzu

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