Break out the dollar bills and order up another round of drinks on me because pole dancing may soon be coming to an Olympics near you.
That's right, serious pole dancers are making a strong push to get pole dancing into the Olympics, minus the high heals and eroticism, of course.
“It can be extremely challenging. It's Olympic level difficulty depending on what you're looking for and what style it is,” said Becca Butcher, pole dancer.
While having the reputation of being mainly a strip club lure, pole dancing has emerged over the past decade as the latest fitness craze. It's offered in local gyms across the country as well as done professionally around the world as thousands of dancers from around the world train daily to perform in international pole competitions.
Unfortunately though, the International Pole Sport Federation, the group that is spearheading the push to get pole dancing into the Olympics, is facing an uphill battle thanks mainly to the same type of public perception that makes it so popular today.
“The biggest challenge is going to be the stereotyping that we have to deal with. And you know, quite frankly everyone thinks pole fitness and pole sport and everything came out of strip clubs, but it started long before then,” said Tim Trautman, presidents of the IPSF
“We have to take some of the eroticism out of the moves and also take off the high heels. We're going to frame it as these are athletes that you're watching. “
The appeal of pole dancing, to those outside the strip clubs, is that it's a sport anyone can do. U.S. National Champion Natasha Wang was in public relations for 10 years, pole dancing on the side as a hobby, before she began winning titles.
“I was in PR for 10 years, working in an office and this was a hobby. It's a sport for regular people, regular men and women are doing it who come from very normal backgrounds,” said Wang.
If pole dancing is to make it into the Olympics it has to change the perception of the everyday person. It's hard for those not familiar with it outside of it's better known setting to take it seriously. That unfamiliarity is the biggest hurdle in it's path to legitimacy.
“I feel like the public's perception has to catch up with what the sport is really about.” said Wang.
That 'catching up' may take a while, but when it does the Olympics is sure to get a lot more, um, interesting.
Photo Credit: AP
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.