WATCH | If you don't associate pole dancing with sheer artistry or athleticism, chances are you haven't attended a Pole Sport Organization competition.
The Hilton in Stamford, Conn., hosted dozens of amateur and pro dancers last weekend.
WATCH | With a mission to provide pole dancers of all skill levels and ages an "opportunity to perform in a professional and friendly venue before family and friends," Pole Sport hosts up to 15 shows annually in the United States and Switzerland, leading up to the U.S. championships.
In addition to the thrill of competition, Dianna Bell said the experience has boosted her health as well. "I've never felt so strong in my whole life, even when I was training with a personal trainer," Bell told Circa.
Hayley James also defied gravity with grace for cheering fans and six judges.
"It's an amazing... full-body workout," she said. "You get really strong, really fast."
She and Bell train with their friend, Samela, at Diosa Dance Fitness in Framingham, Mass.
"Once you spin around [on the pole]," she said, "you're going to want to constantly do it."
There's always the fear of failure [but] when they get past that [and find] that sense of accomplishment, that's what gets me going.
Their trainer from Diosa Dance Fitness, Paulina Ramirez, is a competitive pole dancer as well. But she added that training her students is even more rewarding for her than performing onstage.