I remember my doctor telling me once to stop weight training and start hitting the treadmill if I wanted to lose weight. I was a little surprised -- he looked like a bit of a meathead himself with his huge biceps -- but you do what your doctor tells you, right? Well, maybe not always! We aren't trying to give you medical advice here at The Pole Dancing Shop, but we'd like to share some information that might help you understand why weight training is important.
There are many different theories as to how or why muscle burns more calories than fat. Some may even deny it is true. There are so many potential players in the weight game: genetic history, metabolism, activity level, types of foods you eat, etc. However, how many of us started pole dancing and noticed that our pants got looser, even if the scale didn't move? Well, if that happened for you, then your body responded positively to weight training. You didn't pick up any weights, you say? You didn't need to, because pole dancing IS a weight-bearing, strength-training activity! Some of the best exercises you can do for yourself don't involve picking up any weights at all. Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, holding plank. These are all simple exercises that you can do at home without having to purchase an entire home gym, and they all help you build muscle.
Being healthy doesn't always correlate with body size. Thin doesn't necessarily equal fit and "fat" doesn't necessarily equal unfit. The diet industry rakes in billions of dollars per year by telling us that we need to lose weight. That same industry fails at an alarmingly high rate -- over 95% of people who lose weight will gain it back. Yet, people are still literally killing themselves to be "thin." Doing fad diets and losing weight, only to gain it back, is much harder on the body than just being a few pounds overweight. The point is, maybe you shouldn't eat and workout to be thin. Focus on your health and well-being. Nourish your body with good foods and stay active to keep your body and mind in tip top shape.
If, however, you do want to lose a few pounds, perhaps focusing on gaining muscle and strength would be healthier in the long run than waiting for the number on the scale to drop. I know all too well the disappointment when you think you've been doing so well and you step on the scale with no results (or even worse, the number is higher than expected). It can cause a spiral into chocolate-binging purgatory. There are so many ways to measure weight loss (or inches lost) that don't involve stepping on a scale. You could try taking measurements (or just trusting your clothes as they get looser). Go to a body fat testing facility (a lot of gyms will have mobile facilities on-site a couple of times per month that won't charge a ton of money). Or you can forget all of that and just worry about improving your strength. Can you do more push-ups or pull-ups today than you could a month ago? Can you hold plank longer? Can you climb the pole and let go with both hands now? Can you invert? Can you dance an entire song without breaking a sweat? There are many other ways to measure your success that don't involve stepping on a scale.
We are not here to downplay cardio workouts either. There is a benefit to getting your heart rate up, which helps with stamina and keeps your heart healthy. While we're at it, don't forget to include some flexibility training, such as yoga, for a well-rounded workout. There used to be a stigma attached to women strength training. We know that most pole dancers already know that you won't turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger if you strength train. But we did want to bring up the subject to get your thoughts.
Do you feel like pole dancing has made you stronger? Tell us about your experience!
Photo is from the Lovely Rita Fundraiser at Twirly Girls Pole Fitness, by Liquidpulp Photography.