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Nova Scotia could be first in Canada to make pole fitness a sport

HALIFAX – A group of athletes is lobbying for pole fitness to be given provincial sports organization status in Nova Scotia and, if successful, the province would be the first in the country to do so.

Tori Fleming has been doing pole fitness for two years. The studio coordinator at Studio in Essence in Halifax said the activity is more than what people initially think of.

“It’s incredibly physically demanding. It requires a lot of strength, a lot of flexibility and a lot of endurance to do a whole routine,” she said.

Now a group of pole enthusiasts are pushing for Sport Nova Scotia to give pole fitness official sport status. It currently is also not recognized as a sport on a federal level.

According to Sport Canada, a sport is a regulated form of physical activity organized as a contest between two or more participants for the purpose of determining a winner by fair and ethical means.

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“Its primary activity involves physical interaction between participants and/or between participants and the environment: air, water, ice, snow, ground, special surface or apparatus,” the Sport Canada website reads.

Fleming said the status would standardize pole fitness as well as give it access to services, support and most importantly funding.

She said pole fitness has been growing in the Halifax area the last few years and notes hundreds of women are doing it for fitness purposes as well as for competitive reasons.

The women say pole fitness is comparable to gymnastics and figure skating.
The women say pole fitness is comparable to gymnastics and figure skating.
Fleming says hundreds of women are participating in pole fitness.
Fleming says hundreds of women are participating in pole fitness.
She says they do it for fitness and competitive purposes.
She says they do it for fitness and competitive purposes.
The women have approached Sport Nova Scotia with an application to designate the activity a sport.
The women have approached Sport Nova Scotia with an application to designate the activity a sport.
Fleming says pole fitness requires flexibility, strength and endurance.
Fleming says pole fitness requires flexibility, strength and endurance.
The women at Studio in Essence are spearheading the initiative.
The women at Studio in Essence are spearheading the initiative.
Candice Prior (bottom) hopes to attend and compete in the world championships in London, England next year.
Candice Prior (bottom) hopes to attend and compete in the world championships in London, England next year.

Fleming and others at Studio in Essence say there is no doubt in their minds that pole fitness is a sport and should be recognized as such. They add it is comparable to gymnastics and figure skating.

“It is a sport. It’s basically gymnastics on a vertical pole,” said Candice Prior, who has been doing pole fitness for five years.

“We have to do some floor work as well as work on the poles. There are required moves. There are point systems for it. It’s very advanced and very athletic.”

“We have to train really hard just like any other sport. Like gymnasts have to train, they need to put their routine together, they have trainers. I just don’t see it any differently. It takes a lot of flexibility, strength and agility,” said Christy Lynn Sanford, owner of Studio in Essence.

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Prior said that a designation from Sport Nova Scotia would not only give the activity more legitimacy, it would allow her to apply for funding to attend the world championships in London, England next year.

Organizers met with Sport Nova Scotia this week to discuss the criteria and their chances.

“There’s no question in my mind. It meets every criteria Sport Nova Scotia has as a sport,” said Fleming.

Sport Nova Scotia CEO Jamie Ferguson said that there are several qualifications an activity must meet before it receives sport status.

“Do they have plans to try and grow their participation numbers? What does their competition structure look like? What type of events do they take part in? Do they have training and certification for officials and for coaches?” he said.

Ferguson said that no decision has been made in regards to the women’s application.

He adds the process can sometimes take up to two years.

If the group of women are successful, Nova Scotia would be the first province or territory in the country to give pole fitness that designation.

The women hope that creates a domino effect across Canada.

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“It would be really exciting for Canada. Sport Nova Scotia would really be putting themselves out there and saying ‘we’re the first’ but we’re going to believe in this,” Fleming said.