Daniel Harris, VP of OBU Pole Fitness Society, busts some myths about the sport and shares thoughts on the importance of diversity and inclusivity.
Want to introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, I’m Daniel and I am the Vice President of the Oxford Brookes University Pole Fitness Society. Within my role I try to be at every session to support the instructors. I liaise with the Well-being rep and the Social Secretary, giving my opinion but respecting their positions. I work with the President to see how we can make sessions more accessible to our members. I am also working on how to present society’s diversity. It is a role where I get to decide how involved I want to be with the running of the society.
What is pole fitness?
In brief, Pole Fitness is a fitness class that is fundamentally based on moves associated with pole dancing. However, it is so much more than that. It has aspects of dancing with floor routines, including the flexibility of yoga and the strength of gymnastics. There’s a worldwide revolution in this sport, and with professional competitions and fitness classes it is leading the way in body positivity and diversity.
Why did you personally get into pole fitness and what would you say to people who are interested in giving it a go?
Coming to university I knew I wanted to join a sports society and make new friends. However, I had a fear of getting into something new. I have seen a lot of people play a sport for years before coming to university and felt I wouldn’t fit in with some of the more masculine-dominated sports. Also, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I wanted somewhere where I could be myself and wouldn’t have to worry about being my true self in front of people who I could spend most of my free time at university with. I heard a lot of positivity surrounding the Pole Fitness Society about inclusivity and diversity and so I went with a friend to a taster day, and I was instantly hooked, and fell in love with the sport and what it could offer me.
I would honestly say don’t judge a society by its name. We are one of the most open and diverse societies at Brookes. If you are scared, worried, or unsure about joining, please just message us and come to a society taster day. If you want to come alone, the committee and our instructors will be there for you at every session and will help you to meet new people and make the anxiety and nerves go away. Our instructors are trained and are used to working with people with no experience. It doesn’t matter if this is the first physical fitness group you have joined – we will help you achieve your personal goals and fall in love with the sport.
What events do you run during the year?
Each year, we host a Showcase where our members have the opportunity to appear in our show with a routine they have created. They have the chance to perform in front of family and friends. This is completely optional though, and we do not expect everyone to want to perform.
Does the society support any charities?
We have been supporting Movember for men’s mental health, which our Head Instructor Nieve has been leading on. Unfortunately, during covid in the academic year of 19/20 we weren’t able to proceed with any of the events that the committee had planned, and during covid 20/21 the society itself was nearly lost as we weren’t allowed to continue our sport but finally, with everything coming back to normal this year, we are looking into opportunities and discussing new events to be able to work and become a more charitable society.
What does inclusivity and diversity mean for the society?
Inclusivity and diversity is the backbone of our society and is a core principle that all of the committee members hold in their hearts. Unfortunately, many people have a Hollywood perception of a specific type of person who partakes in pole fitness, but this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Our society asks for two things: dedication and passion. We welcome every single person regardless of ability, gender, age, or body type. As a society, all we want to see are people achieving personal goals and we take pride in watching their progression. This is truly a safe and open space, regardless of who you are, and we can say with 100% certainty you will never be judged and you will always be supported.
Diversity and inclusivity means so much to me that when I became Vice President I wanted a rebrand of our team logo. We went with a design that showed no person – just lines depicting a move, so it has no sex, no gender, no body. A logo that anyone in the society can be seen within, regardless of who they are. We are always looking at ways to make our members feel safer and more included.
When do sessions take place and how can people get involved?
Currently, we have sessions running Monday and Friday 16:30 until 20:30 and Saturday 15:30 until 19:30. Due to darker nights we are trying to change class time on a Saturday to be earlier and more accessible. You can find us on Instagram @obupolefitness and on Facebook as Oxford Brookes Pole Society. We will answer all and any questions sent to us via DMs.