Pole has now been recognized as a sport. The International Pole Sports Federation gained Observer status from the Global Association of International Sports Federations.
In Oro Valley, Centre Stage Pole Fitness is training for future Olympic bids.
Katrina Wyckoff, the director of Centre Stage (1335 W. Lambert Lane #115), has trained pole athletes at her studio for the last four years.
She’s seen the program “explode” at her studio, and now that pole has gained status as a sport, she looks to the opportunities to share with people what pole is all about.
“It was the combination of the artistry, athleticism and adventure that just really made it a phenomenal experience for me and I just thought people have to see this, they have to try this, they have to know about it.” she said.
Once an activity gains the status as a sport, it can take about eight years for it to have the opportunity to gain status as an Olympic sport.
Luckily for Centre Stage, some of its youngest participants in pole sport are currently 7 years old.
By the time pole sport is potentially recognized as an Olympic sport, the local school will host athletes at just the right age and have enough training to compete.
Center Stage is one of only two studios in the U.S. currently training participants for world competitions and the Olympics in pole sport.
“It’s very different than the stigma some people might think of. It’s just like any other sport, it’s full of people who are working hard and training as serious athletes.” Wyckoff said.
Centre Stage currently has a competitive pole team of 20.
The team enters competitions where their rou tine is judged by a panel on a number of criteria set for routines. Center Stage currently holds four national titles in pole sport, including one from the youngest athlete, Maren Wyckoff, 7, Kiera Eckel, 8 and Brianna McClanahan and Wyckoff as double pole sport champions as adults.
Aside from competition, Wyckoff said anyone of any age or level of training can try pole sport.
If a dancer comes in three times a week to a pole class, they could see a change in their strength in as little as three months.
She encourages anyone who has interest to try it out.
“I love the empowerment it brings to our students and the community. It’s this wonderful thing that builds strength while making an impact on our community.” Wyckoff said.
It usually takes dancers one to two years to gain the skill and strength to compete in pole competitions.
As the sport quickly grows, Wyckoff is optimistic about the sport and the opportunities Center Stage athletes will have with the sport as it becomes recognized at a national and international level.
Center Stage will represent pole as a demonstration sport at the World Sport Games 2019 in Spain.
“It’s really neat because we’re building the future of an Olympic sport here in Tucson.” Wyckoff said.
Leah Gilchrist is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.