Kristy Craig, the owner of The Twisted Grip Dance and Fitness Studio says the class, which is offered to kids as young as 5, originated in response to demand from parents. “My existing students were asking about it for their children. They were saying, ‘My daughter plays on my pole at home all the time, I’d love her to actually learn how to do things property and not hurt herself,’” Craig told The National Post.
And so, "Little Spinners" was born. As of September 6, UPI reports that four kids (three girls, one boy) had signed up for the weekly class that costs a mere $70 per one hour session.
The cost of pole dancing class, however is not what most critics are up in arms about. Many parents ask whether kids should be participating in this type of workout at all. Last year, when a studio in England offered a similar program, Babble blogger Meredith Carroll wrote, "How anyone could offer pole dancing to girls almost that young is beyond me. Talk about the increased sexualization of kids."
According to the Daily Mail, child protection groups called photos of last year's class ‘deeply disturbing’.
But Craig defends her program claiming that there is nothing sexual about it. “Do you see anything provocative going on here? Because there isn’t. This is strictly about fitness,” she told the National Post. In fact, she think it's just like the types of physical activity children are already drawn to.
"I mean kids love climbing trees. They will climb anything," Craig told UPI.
In 2010, when Scotland studio Up Yer Pole came under fire for their under-16 pole dancing program, owner Pammy Cameron used a similar defense. “There are no sexy routines or provocative dance wear, it just so happens there’s a pole involved,” she told The Sun.
Pole dancing teachers aren't the only ones trying to change the public's mind about the activity. The International Pole Sport Federation (yes, there is one) is pushing for pole dancing to become an official Olympic Sport. They seek to erase the "stripper" stigma, if you will.
As far as how pole dancing class may impact kids who participate, child psychologist Dr. Derek Swain told CTV that there's no problem with it if it's used only for physical activity. But, he is concerned that because of its association with the sex industry, "it could cause bullying and even increase the likelihood of girls becoming strippers when they’re older."
And, Dr. Swain wonders where the desire to take these classes are even coming from. “Sometimes these kinds of activities are more of an interest to the parent than they are to the kids,” he said.