7 Incredible Photos That Prove Pole Dancing Is A Sport

Look at them go.

Ask someone to name as many sports as they can, and they'll quickly rattle off a handful of popular games like soccer, basketball, and football. Even if they think to mention less-spotlighted sports like cheerleading and gymnastics, it's practically a guarantee that pole dancing won't make the cut. 

But why not?

Photographer Bart Erkamp said he had never thought of pole dancing as a possible fitness option until a couple summers ago when his date told him she was planning to install a pole in her house. They kept in touch, and that November he attended a regional pole dancing championship to get a better handle on the quickly expanding sport. 

"I must say I was quite blown away by the performers," he told A+ via email. "The combination of strength and elegance is amazing (my body started to hurt just by watching some of the moves). In a way it’s like artistic gymnastics on a vertical pole."

As he noted on his website, although pole dance has historically been seen as a form of performance art limited to adult-oriented venues, many people are now practicing the sport as a way to keep fit.

"If it is up to the International Pole Sports Federation, pole dancing will be an official Olympic sport in 2016," he wrote.

Which doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

Whether pole dancers perform in night clubs or in their living rooms, they have to be incredibly strong and graceful. You don't make twisting around an unforgiving metal pole look as effortless as you do without being seriously tough.

"I learned [while photographing] that the people who practice this sport are very proud of it and are happy to show the world that pole dancing is a serious sport... I hope that is what people take away from the series," Erkamp said.