He was at the Taboo Sex Show this year... He had a lean and muscular body, hidden under a loose t-shirt and artfully faded jeans. His bright quick eyes and his easy smile hinted at something mysterious. He was an enigma, and I knew why, as he strutted over to the pole and lifted his body into the air, as if by magic. Such acrobatic grace was hard to dismiss. He was master of the pole and it seemed to conform to him, rather than the other way around...


 No, this isn’t an excerpt from the latest steamy romance novel. It was actually real life! But, it did feel a little like 50 shades...


 I was sent to the Taboo Sex Show this year, to interview Ricky Pang, 2013’s Canadian Pole Fitness ChampionHe was the first Canadian male to win the men’s division. He is also co-owner of Tantra Fitness in Richmond, BC, a studio which specialises in pole fitness classes, dancing classes, burlesque classes and more.  


 And why was he at Taboo this year, other than to give me a wonderful 2 min private demonstration of his pole-climbing talents? He was there to promote both his passion and his business: pole dancing and pole fitness, or ‘poling’, as he affectionately called it.


 He’s an accountant?


 Well, he used to be one. You would never think that this former accountant would be the leading male pole dancer in Canada. But, Ricky on paper and Ricky up close are two very different things. As soon as you see his rippling abs, defined arms and strong legs, you know he is a pole dancing God. His demonstrations on the pole only confirm it. ‘Acrobatic’ doesn’t seem fitting enough- unbelievable is more the appropriate word! The way he defies gravity, as his body lifts upwards into impossible positions, supported only by his arms, as if held by invisible strings. But there are no strings attached to this man. It’s pure muscle that holds him up. And to think, he only started ‘poling’ 4 years ago! Now, his body would rival that of an athlete- a true testament to the power of the pole!


 However, male pole dancing is more than just a sexy pastime. It has become a popular way to stay fit. “It started slowly,” admits Ricky. “There are a lot of male pole dancers in the rest of the world, except Canada. Canada is in its infancy, still growing as a sport, especially in the men’s division.” And he can’t wait until it develops into an international-level event. “I can’t wait till we get up to the level of Russia,” says Ricky, “those guys are badass! They’re Cirque du Soleil quality!”


Pole fitness is becoming increasing popular, for both women and men. “We have 100 members now,” boasts Ricky, “and we’re still growing.” Now, he runs classes through his Tantra Fitness location in Richmond and in Gastown. He sees mostly women come through those doors, but men are quickly catching up. “It’s still a woman-dominated environment,” explains Ricky, “but, more and more men are getting into it.”


You would think it would be problematic, conducting a class full of beautiful women, grinding and writhing on poles. But, to Ricky, poling is all about fitness. In fact, it was the demonstration of athleticism that drew him to this sport. “One day, I saw this guy on America’s got Talent and I thought, Oh my God, it’s a guy on a pole- a guy!...I was fixated on him,” Ricky admits. “He was so fluid, had such dance abilities and was so elegant, yet so strong!” He had to watch the clip again. In fact, he was so inspired, he quickly enrolled in his first pole fitness class. “I only had 48 hrs before my common sense kicked in,” he jokes, “so I scheduled my first class and 4 years later, I’m still here!”



How does male pole dancing compare to women’s?


 Ricky explains the main difference: male poling, unlike women’s, has no exotic or ‘sexy’ element. Instead, male poling showcases strength and fitness, to make it credible as a competitive sport. Though, he doesn’t see anything wrong with having fun while you’re at it. “Feel free to get in the heels,” he says, “Wear those stilettos! That’s the beauty of pole fitness. It’s all about self-expression!” And to those of you who think that pole dancing is just all about the grind, Ricky dares you to try one class. Once you see the physical endurance required and the complex routines, the image of the sleazy bump n’ grind will go right out the door! 


 But, he does have some important advice for men who want to try a class: “Respect the studio and the ladies in the studio,” he says, “If you’re there, just do the moves, and focus on the moves.” Basically, keep your eyes on the pole.


 Is poling a good way to stay fit? 


 Just as Ricky. He readily admits that he never sets foot in a gym, “I hate Stairmasters and not being able to talk to people in a crowded gym. Pole dancing keeps me fit,” he says, “So, it’s all I do.” When asked did he have any secret tips for looking so toned and healthy? “I eat a lot of fruits and salads,” he says. “Inversions and being upside down on the don’t want your dinner to come back up. So I keep it light when I know I’m going to be doing that.” But, he’s ready to point out that pole fitness is a total body workout. It will tone your upper body, lower body, arms and legs. “You definitely feel it in the upper body. And eventually you develop the tone in your muscles,” says Ricky.


 Any grooming tips for Men?



 He suggests one thing: Be clean. Use soap and brush your teeth. “Be respectful of others,” he says, “because hygiene is sexy!”


 What about body hair? Does a male pole dancer need to be hair-free, like swimmers?

 Ricky admits he prefers to be hairless, but, “because I’m Asian, I can’t grow body hair if my life depended on it.” He says it works out well for him. And if he does have a stray hair or two, it’s “nothing that an $80 epilator couldn’t fix.” That may not work for all men. Some men may need waxingelectrolysis or laser hair removal to rid themselves of unwanted body hair. But, there is a good reason for losing the excess hair. It makes your muscle tone stand out, gives your body better definition and hey, if you’re doing all that hard work on the pole to get fit, you might as well show off your results!


 For more info on hair removal options for men, visit Élan’s ‘Services’ page.


 As Ricky waved goodbye, that concluded my day at Taboo. It was an intriguing meeting that will stay in my mind for very long time. And I still have that free Tantra Fitness lesson (See last week’s blog to find out how I scored that), which I might use to see if the power of the pole can work its magic on me.


To see a sample of Ricky Pang’s incredible pole routines, watch him on YouTube or visit him on Facebook.


 For more info on Tantra Fitness or to book a class, check out: