The sexy strength training workout is one step closer to being recognized for its serious athleticism.


Make no mistake: Pole dancing is not easy. Effortlessly twisting your body into inversions, artful arcs, and gymnast-inspired poses takes athleticism on the ground, let alone while trying to remain suspended on the side of a smooth pole. It's part dance, part gymnastics, and all strength (even Jennifer Lopez struggled to master pole dancing for her Hustlers role).

In recent years, the fitness community has started recognizing this with studios offering beginner lessons and fitness-focused classes that bring out your inner sass. (This Shape staffer tried pole dancing recently and says, "I was able to step outside of my comfort zone and engage muscles I didn't even know existed.")

But if you still need convincing that pole dancing is more than just a fun thing to do for a bachelorette party, you'll be interested to learn that athletes could one day earn a gold medal for their hard work in the sport.

The Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF)—the umbrella organization that houses all Olympic and non-Olympic sports federations—has granted the International Pole Sports Federation official observer status, a move that internationally recognizes and legitimizes a sport. This recognition from the GAISF is the first, big step to potentially make it to the Olympic Games. Next, the sport would have to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which can take several years. (Cheerleading and Muay Thai have been added to the IOC's list of provisional sports, bringing them that much closer to the Olympic podium.)

"Pole Sports requires great physical and mental exertion; strength and endurance are required to lift, hold, and spin the body," says the GAISF in a statement. "A high degree of flexibility is needed to contort, pose, demonstrate lines, and execute techniques." There you have it: Just like skiing, volleyball, swimming, and other fan-favorite Olympic sports, pole dancing requires training, endurance, and serious strength. These are just some of the reasons to consider taking a pole dancing class yourself.

Also added to the list of observer-status sports: arm wrestling, dodgeball, and kettlebell lifting. In other words, it might not be long before your go-to workouts join the elite athletes on the biggest international sports stage in the world. Until then, get excited to cheer on the debut of rock climbing, surfing, and karate at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.