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Caines loving life in pole position

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Flexing muscles: pole fitness instructor Iejah Caines (Photograph by Kevin Smith)

His shoulders hurt, his muscles burnt and sweat poured everywhere.

It was Iejah Caines’s first attempt at pole dancing — and he was hooked.

“I loved the challenge,” he said. “It’s not about being sexy. It might look sexy, but it takes a lot of strength.”

The 33-year-old was drawn to the fitness routine after he saw it in Rihanna’s 2014 video, Pour it Up.

He was fascinated by how the singer climbed poles and turned herself upside down.

“Her athleticism was amazing,” he said.

The taekwondo fourth dan black belt was bored with his workouts at the gym and decided to give it a whirl at Lotus on Victoria Street.

“It has really made me stronger,” he said. “My taekwondo has also become prettier. I do a lot of kicks and they’ve become more elegant.”

In hopes of getting other males interested, he started teaching a pole fitness class geared solely towards them.

So far, he has three students.

He believes the association between pole dancing and strip clubs keeps men away.

“I am very tired and sweaty afterward,” he said. “Men need to stop thinking about it with the strip club mentality.

“I am not a feminine guy. I am a mason by trade. After a hard day at work, it is stress-relieving for me.

“If you associate it with clubs, then that’s your mentality. It is important to be open-minded to learn new things and grow.”

Men’s pole fitness is gaining in popularity elsewhere. Cirque du Soleil includes acrobatic pole acts in its performances and the actor Jude Law used it to train for his role in Closer.

One of Mr Caines’s most difficult moves is a reverse planche. It requires him to climb a pole and place his body straight out in a plank. One arm is behind him; the other above.

His ultimate goal is to be able to lift his own body weight.

“I can lift 90lbs, but to lift your own body weight is a feat in itself,” he said. “That is the ultimate goal. Now I can do things I couldn’t do before. There is a move called a muscle-up, where you bring your body straight up and over a bar. I can’t do it yet, but I’m almost there.”

His class, at Lotus on Saturdays at 10am, is open to beginners.

“We start by getting them to lift their body up and getting them used to the pole,” he said. “Once I see the progression, that is when I would show people the next steps. There are many different movements such as spins and inverts.”

Classes start at $80 for eight sessions. Contact Lotus on 296-5900 or www.lotusbermuda.com for more information.

Showing strength: pole fitness instructor Iejah Caines (Photograph by Kevin Smith)