Is pole dance a sport?

There is a clear line that runs through pole dancing – the fact that it is “a sport”, the “movement of the feet,” the fact that it is “a physical activity”, the fact that it is part of “a social culture,” “a culture in which sexual expressions of all kinds occur,” and that “everybody’s doing it.” In other words, we all do it and it’s no big deal, and that makes pole dancing okay. (I’m even willing to be a bit hard on the guys who go for the pole in the first place.) It’s a lot easier to get a pole in my face than to get a couple of guys to dance right next to me, or more likely, another guy’s pole in some random other man’s face.

But I have been in the gym for a good while, and at the gym is where my physical education (PIE) class got taught. I do think that pole dancing is important for the human body to be healthy, especially for the pole dancer, who lives on the edge and works hard to stay alive, but I don’t think that pole dancing is a sport because it’s so close to working out. (It’s no different than playing a sport because you’re not getting much physical exercise, and you want to play a sport when you stop being able to do the sport.) I do think that pole dancing is an activity. I do think that the body is complex and flexible and in many ways in a state of flux, and I do think that that makes our bodies more like “sports” than “exercise.” And I do think that’s why the body is a sport not because it’s an activity but because it’s a means of getting the body in shape or improving a particular physical state.

But the fact that there’s a line that links PIE class to pole dancing does not make the activity a sport. It could be a sport and have certain benefits, like the fact that the whole class is based on the physical aspects of the sport, and therefore the exercise, but not the physical activities themselves. A lot of the things we do in the gym are very much based on physical activities – when we play sport, and also when we do physical exercises, so it will just be fair for me to think of the process as “the process of changing my body, changing my posture, changing my movement.” (Which is also good if you’re worried about how you look.)

On the other hand