The International Pole Sports Federation has gained Observer status from the Global Association of International Sports Federations.

The newly recognized competition sport is typically judged by a panel based on a number of set criteria. Centre Stage Pole Fitness of Oro Valley, Ariz., currently holds four national titles.

Centre Stage director Katrina Wyckoff told Tucson Local Media, “It’s very different than the stigma some people might think of. It’s just like any other sport, it’s full of people who are working hard and training as serious athletes.”

With a competition team of 20, Wyckoff’s studio is one of only two in the country with experience training participants for world competitions. Now that pole sport has been recognized by the GAISF, Wyckoff will begin to train future Olympic hopefuls.

Centre Stage has been a training ground for competitive pole athletes for four years now, with some participants as young as seven years old.

In the eight years it could take for pole sport to see inclusion in the Olympics, Wyckoff expects to have athletes who are strong enough and of an ideal age to compete.

“I love the empowerment it brings to our students and the community. It’s this wonderful thing that builds strength while making an impact on our community,” said Wyckoff.

Center Stage is scheduled to make an appearance in Spain at the World Sport Games in 2019, where the competition team will give a demonstration of the emerging sport.

Courtney Cameron is Editorial Assistant of Athletic Business.