The Hartlepool class where kids learn to pole dance

Off the Floor group members on the hoops at the Chique Physique, Fitness & Dance Studio.
Off the Floor group members on the hoops at the Chique Physique, Fitness & Dance Studio.
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The instructor at a children’s aerial fitness class in Hartlepool says she is trying to alter people’s perceptions from the image of x-rated pole dancing.

Gemma Brazell runs Off The Floor in Cromwell Street, which teaches youngsters aged seven to 14 as well as adults.

Gemma Brazell working with 11-year-old Evee Downing.

Gemma Brazell working with 11-year-old Evee Downing.

Although one of the activities the class offers involves acrobatic moves on a pole, mum of three Gemma, 33, says it is very different from what you would see in a strip club.

She wants to get across to parents of potential new members its fitness and confidence-boosting benefits.

Gemma said of the activity known as vertical acro: “It is like being a gymnast. I want to get the stigma away from pole dancing and for parents to see the difference in what we do.

“It helps the children with their flexibility, strength and fitness and most of all confidence building.

Gemma Brazell wants to change people's perceptions of pole dancing.

Gemma Brazell wants to change people's perceptions of pole dancing.

“You still spin on a pole but it is not in a sexy way at all.”

Gemma said girls and boys, including her seven-year-old son, do the pole fitness acrobatics.

The group, based at the Dance Physique fitness and dance studio, in the town’s Cromwell Street, also teaches circus-style activities including from metal hoops suspended from the ceiling and aerial silks where the person performs stunts using long silks as ropes.

Gemma said parents often change their minds when they see the activities in action.

She added: “We have had children interested, but the views of their parents put them off.

“We have done a couple of shows where the children and adults use all their skills and are put together in such a way that when people do come and visit us a lot of people change their minds instantly.

“It is very different from what people expect it to be.”

Gemma decided to teach pole fitness after it helped her shed unwanted baby weight after having her three children and wanted others to experience its fitness benefits.