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Studio owner defends ‘Mommy & Me’ pole-dancing class after footage goes viral

“These kids aren’t twerking — nothing inappropriate, nothing sexual is going on here,” Tia Harris tells TODAY.com.
/ Source: TODAY

A pole-dancing school in Atlanta is offering a "Mommy & Me" workshop — and the concept has some heads spinning.

In a now-viral Instagram video, children are shown twirling, twisting and performing acrobatic tricks alongside adults at Pink Poles Studio. The clip is set to the "Take Me There" from the 1998 animated movie "Rugrats."

According to Pink Poles Studio owner, Tiajuanna “Tia” Harris, the boys and girls in the footage range in age from 4 to 14. 

“Kids and pole dancing are 2 things that shouldn’t anywhere near each other,” one person wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Added another, “Pole dancing is associated with strip clubs and therefore inappropriate for children. It’s simple.”

Harris tells TODAY.com that the outrage is unwarranted, noting that pole dancing is now an internationally recognized sport and may even reach the Olympics

“These kids aren’t twerking — nothing inappropriate, nothing sexual is going on here,” Harris explains. “What we’re doing is teaching them to use the apparatus as a fitness tool. It’s no different than gymnastics or ballet.”

After the first "Mommy & Me" pole class earlier this month, Harris recalls receiving a phone call from an attendee. 

“She was like, ‘I wanted to tell you how much my son enjoyed the class. He said he felt like Spiderman,’” Harris says. “Hearing that warmed my heart.”

Georgia studio offers 'Mommy & Me' pole dancing class
Pink Poles Studio wants to break the stigma around pole sports.@pinkpolesstudios via Instagram

The Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) describes pole sports as a combination of “dance and acrobatics.”

Pole sports require "great physical and mental exertion, strength and endurance," GAISF states on its website. “A high degree of flexibility is needed to contort, pose, demonstrate lines and execute techniques.”

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a parenting and youth development expert, is all for parents and kids co-experiencing physical challenges, such as pole sports. Just be prepared to answer questions when the child gets older, Gilboa says.

“There is nothing sexual about it, but you can’t ignore the reputation around pole dancing, and girls on poles,” Gilboa tells TODAY.com. “You don’t need to talk to your 4-year-old about that reputation, but you will likely need to address it at some point.” 

If you find yourself struggling to find the right words, Gilboa recommends keeping it simple. 

“You can just say, ‘I found an exercise that I really liked and when they offered a way that I could include you, I thought it would be fun — and you enjoyed it, too,” Gilboa says.

Harris says the next "Mommy & Me" workshop is nearly at full capacity, and there are many new names on the sign-up sheet.

"We're not going to stop doing this," Harris says. "We actually have a kids-only class starting next month."