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10+ Games To Play In Your Pole Class

By on June 19, 2017

One of the biggest challenges as a pole instructor can be continually finding fun and creative methods for teaching skills or reviewing material. One way to change up your normal teaching routine is to incorporate games and learning activities that challenge your students in new ways and encourage them to think on their feet.

Photo Submitted by: Stella Calella

I asked other pole instructors to share some of their favorite class games, then I loosely categorized them as freestyle, skill-building, or conditioning activities (though you’ll certainly see that many of them could easily fit in multiple categories). You’ll find a variety of unique ideas, and discover fun variations on some of the same games as well. Hopefully this will inspire you when writing your next class plan!

Just make sure you find the perfect Pleasers for your games.

Freestyle: games and activities that encourage movement exploration, musical understanding, transition building, character development, and more.

My go-to game: Character Freestyle. I played a variation of this when I did a workshop with Danielle Romano and Krista Powell and used it for inspiration for the game I play with my classes. On slips of paper, I write out very general characters (superhero, cat, 1950s housewife, ballerina, spider, etc.) and place them in a hat. In another hat, I place slips of paper with descriptive words (dejected, hyper, lovesick, aggressive, etc.). Students take turns pulling a character name and an adjective and then we use the combination as freestyle inspiration.

The Floor Is Lava: Set a timer for two minutes. Students must freestyle without touching the floor until time is up. –Pippa Loveridge, Polenastics Pole Studio

Pole Jail: Guide each student into an awkward position around the pole or on the floor. Students must then find ways to gracefully dance their way out of each position. –Rachel Skye, Studio Spin

Floorwork Challenge: Students attempt to travel around the floor without their hands and feet losing contact. –Miglena Laf

1,2,3 Freestyle: One of my pole coworkers shared a variation of this game with me when she learned it while traveling to another pole studio. Divide pole movements into three levels: 1–low flow, 2–standing height movements, and 3–off the floor (adjust as needed for your class). Put on music and have your class begin freestyling. Call out a number (1, 2, or 3). Students must continue freestyling but only using movements at that specific level. Continue calling out numbers to change the level at which they move. For example, if you call out 1 they must move to low movements. If you jump up the 3, they must move into positions where they’re off the floor. Students must keep moving and changing levels until the song ends.

Skill-Building: games and activities that encourage building movement vocabulary, reviewing class material, refining technique, and more.

Pole Poker/Dance of Chance/Add-On: The basis for this game is to encourage combination building as students are forced to find creative ways to stack movements together. Try these variations:

  • Write names of moves on poker chips (floorwork, spins, standing moves, inversions, etc.). Have students pull 3-5 chips and create a combo using the moves. Then have the student teach the new combo to the class. Or make it into a progressive game where the first person executes a movement, the next student adds on a move, and so on. –Heather Jones Poulin, Brass Butterflies
  • Build a routine together. One class member (or the instructor) demos one move. The next person does that move plus one more. It continues until all students have contributed a movement. Then run the routine to two or three different kinds of music. –Pippa Loveridge of Polenastics Pole Studio, Andra Dunn of Inverted Dance and Fitness, and Miglena Laf
  • Focus on transitions. Give the students three simple movements and set a timer for three minutes. Encourage them to find transitions that flow between the movements to create a combo. –Miglena Laf

Get From A To B: Give students a starting position and an ending position (trick, pose, etc.). They have to figure out how to get from point A to point B within the stipulations set by the instructions. For example, you might say that they must use three moves or transitions to get from A to B. Or that one of the moves must be inverted. Or that they can’t use any kind of traditional climb between moves. This encourages students to get creative and think outside of the box with their transitions. –Rachel Skye, Studio Spin

Some sporty Bad Kitty gear can only make those conditioning games more fun.

Conditioning: games and activities that encourage strength building and stamina.

My go-to game: Floorwork Relay Race. Divide class into two even teams and line up at the back of the room. When you say go, the first member of each team travels across the room and back while doing a specific floorwork move of your choosing, then tags the next teammate to do the same. The first team to get all members through wins the round, and then you start again with a new floorwork move. (For large groups, you may want to display a list of all of the moves and have each team member do a different move when tagged in, versus having all members have to complete a move before moving on). Some floorwork moves travel much easier than others, but that’s part of the fun.

Pole Roulette: Apply a specific role to each pole (for example, pole 1 is all one handed spins, pole 2 is all inversions, pole 3 is all fireman spins, pole 4 is only moves with 3 points of contact, etc.). Students go pole to pole and can only perform moves that that pole’s “rule.” This is perfect for conditioning but could be a fun skill-building and review game as well. –Lauren “Pinki” Schiavo, Flaunt Fitness

Pole-To-Pole HIIT: Place a card next to each pole with a movement (along with regressions/progressions). One by one, students must go pole-to-pole and do that spin, trick, or transition on both sides and then move on to the next pole. Play at pace for cardio benefits. If there is a wait at a pole, the waiting student continue with some kind of cardio movement (running in place, star jumps, etc.). –Pippa Loveridge, Polenastics Pole Studio

Photo Submitted by: Maree Prebensen

What are your favorite class games? Do you play any variations on these? Share with us in the comments!

A big thank you to all the instructors who shared their games and activities with me for this post. While I hope that I clearly outlined the details, I apologize for any errors in interpretation. I so appreciate your help!

Paige Lysaght

Paige Lysaght

is a Certified Health Coach, AFAA certified fitness instructor, and parkour and aerial arts studio owner.
Paige Lysaght

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