This Friday and Saturday in Dallas an athletic competition will be held at the Lakewood Theater that will crown a Texas champion. The competitors train for hours a day to mold their bodies into shape and to perfect the highly difficult (and often dangerous) maneuvers that are staples of their sport. Strength and stamina are musts for any top-level competitors, but these athletes won’t be using a bat, a ball, a stick or a hoop to compete in their chosen event.
They’ll be using a pole.
The Third Annual Miss Texas Pole Star (MTPS) will be held tonight (Oct.5) and tomorrow (Oct. 6) evening. The Saturday evening main event will be held at the historic Lakewood Theater on Abrams. First things first, let’s strip away the pre-conceived notions about competitive pole dancing. While there is no denying the origins of pole, MTPS is a decidedly PG-13 affair where the athletes wear outfits that are no more revealing than what your average female beach volleyball player wears in the Olympics. There are unique elements to pole that the athletes incorporate into their routines such as the Gemini, the Scorpio, or the lay out, but many of the movements would be familiar to any gymnast.
If you scoff at the notion of calling the participants athletes, go ahead and try and do an inverted pole hold using only your hands (think hand stand, but on a pole) while elegantly and athletically transitioning into and out of the maneuver. MTPS co-founder (along with Karen Palmer) Linda Spraggins says,
“We choose to work out <and compete> on a vertical pole versus a horizontal balance beam. Do we realize that it’s kind of sexy? Sure. But the costumes we’re wearing aren’t all that different from what gymnasts wear…this is a serious sport and they are real athletes.”
Contestants in the amateur, fitness and masters divisions generally have unrelated day jobs and use the intense pole fitness workouts to get into and then stay in shape (Ms. Spraggins herself lost over 40 pounds taking pole fitness classes). The top competitors in Saturday’s Ultimate category, however, train for hours a day, use choreographers and some even compete in events such as Miss Texas Pole Star on a full-time basis. “The athletes have to have a seriously strong core, strong legs and good upper body strength to perform the advanced moves,” Ms. Spraggins explained.
Competitor Holly Henderson trained as a gymnast when she was younger and says that pole champions:
“...tend to possess an impressive mix of strength, flexibility, creativity and confidence. Like ballet or gymnastics, pole isn’t only about athletic ability; its about poise.”
Ms. Henderson has a day job in finance, so she often doesn’t get home from training in the gym or studio until 10pm or later. She says that pole fitness is appealing to her as an athlete since her gymnastics career peaked when she was in her early teens. Pole athletes, on the other hand, compete at the highest level into their 30s and even later in the masters division.
If you want to see exceptional athletes perform a well-choreographed combination of physical fitness and art, give competitive pole dancing a chance. For tickets or more information, please visit misstexaspolestar.com.
SportDFW will be covering MTPS, so look for our recap and photos in the upcoming days.