To REP's or not to REP's?
There has been an on-going debate within the pole dancing world as to what is the best way to qualify as a pole dancing instructor. For many the ideal route has been the Register of Exercise Professionals (REP's). REP's has a great reputation for its work with aerobics instructors and gym managers but is it the right body for pole dancing teachers?
To become a pole dancing instructor with REP's you need to do 2 things; firstly you need to complete an Exercise to Music course at Level 2 and then secondly you need to do a REP's registered continuing professional development course with one of the REP's pole dancing providers. The problems with this route is that there is often no pre-requisite for any pole dancing experience meaning that anyone could qualify as a pole dancing instructor by merely doing a 2 week ETM course and by doing a 1 day pole dancing instructor qualification.
The ETM course does offer warm up and cool down advice and some basic physiology and anatomy but is not pole dance specific so an instructor then has to learn how to pole dance in as little as 8 hours. This format may well be suitable for leading an aerobics class but teaching pole dancing requires skills that simply cannot be developed in this time frame.
On the REP's website there is a 3 day course providing a qualification to teach beginners pole dancing with the only pre-requisite that you do the non-pole related ETM first. The Pole People Instructor qualification takes just 2 days and gives you 16 REP's points. Pole Perfect, in Exeter, also offer a 1 day training course and the Pole Perfect instructor can be quoted as saying "In just one day I can teach you everything you need to know to teach beginners fitness pole classes - including warm up, cool down, beginners moves and linking moves as well as advising you on progressing your training with intermediate and advanced courses."
None of the courses mentioned demand any previous pole dancing experience. Would you feel safe learning from someone with just 1 days pole dancing experience?
We at the PDC recognise that experience is as valuable, if not more valuable than qualifications. Someone with 3 years actual experience of pole dancing will have picked up more knowledge than someone completing 1 day course. Who would you rather learn from?
The other problem with the REP's route is that once someone is qualified they can then choose how to structure their lesson and can have as many students as they like per pole, use any type of pole such as a peek-a-boo or scaffold pole and could then go on to teach advanced moves without any experience of how to safely execute such moves. We have seen examples of REP's instructors who have put a pole in their bedroom with no safe distance around the pole and then advertised as a professional pole dancing instructor teaching all levels.
Of course in reality there is no legal requirement for teaching pole dancing, you don't have to have insurance (you do require employers liability if you have employees), you can use any type of pole, you can have as many students as you like per pole and can, if you wish, have a 15 foot pole, no crash mats, inadequate insurance and no experience. The problem with this reality is that when an accident happens the student will look to sue and will most probably have a claim and the result of this claim is that the premiums of genuine pole dancing instructors then vastly increases.
Some schools are already finding it increasingly difficult to get pole dancing instructors insurance as the under-writers are realising there is more to pole dancing than simply wiggling around a pole.
With the Pole Dance Community we look for a balance of both experience and qualifications whilst encouraging continuing professional development, networking and pole jams (we think that training and pole jamming with other teachers is extremely valuable for skill sharing and problem solving). We also actively check that our members are abiding by our strict code of conduct.
No doubt the debate about exactly what makes a good pole dancing instructor will continue, if you would like to contribute to this debate please either use our forum or e-mail us with your thoughts. We will write a follow up article with your comments and feedback.
N.B. If you have REP's insurance you are only covered to teach pole dancing if you have the ETM Level 2 and a pole dancing add-on such as the Vertical Dance qualifications, without both of these courses your insurance is invalid for pole dance tuition.