Jennifer Lopez’s Super Bowl Halftime Pole Dance Workout, Explained

Fans, critics, humans of Earth: By now, everyone knows that Jennifer Lopez works hard to entertain her fans, creating incredible concert experiences to maintain her household name status.

And when she’s on stage performing energetic dance numbers while singing her hit songs, Jennifer makes it look like second nature. Adding pole dancing into the mix, however, was the ultimate level up.

Johanna Sapakie, a dancer and choreographer in aerial acrobatics, coached by Jennifer Lopez from newbie to an expert in the art of pole dancing.

Starting with her role in Hustlers and continuing with her 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show performance, Johanna taught Jennifer how to make the pole her stage through numerous training sessions that worked alllll her muscles.

Jennifer’s Super Bowl performance with Shakira is the focus of the new Netflix documentary Jennifer Lopez: Halftimewhich dropped on June 14.

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Johanna coached Jennifer on the full-body exercise for months in preparation for her performances. And it totally paid off.

Johanna chatted with Women’s Health to reveal everything you need to know about the pole dance training that made J.Lo’s Halftime Show (and the pole dance portion), a true masterpiece.

Meet the expert: Johanna Sapaki is an artist, choreographer, director, performer, and coach in pole dance. She’s performed for Cirque Du Solei and at The MTV Movie Awards.

Pole dancing is a full-body workout.

Johanna described pole dancing as the ultimate workout to engage all areas of your body.

Despite the common assumption that upper body strength is most important to support the dancer while on the pole, Johanna explained that all of your muscles are firing. For example, a dancer squeezes with her grip and inner thigh muscles, all while weaving with her core, and pulling with her arms. Her ankles and lower body press hard into the pole for stability. “Everything is working in unison to create the movement,” she said Women’s Health.

“If your body works as a total package, you’re much more likely to be successful than if you rely on just one muscle group,” she explains. For example, “If you have a really strong core, your core will help support the rest of your body, so your arms will simply have to do less work.”

For newbies, she shares this tip: “Do your best to divide the workload evenly between the parts of the body, so that each part of the body is doing its job to facilitate the climb.”

It’s a full-body affair!

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Is Jennifer a professionally-trained dancer?

Yes! Jennifer actually started her career as a dancer, claiming that dance was her first love.

However, when it came to pole, “everyone, including Jennifer Lopez, started out at step one,” Johanna says when asked if Jennifer had a learning curve with this new performance skill. Turns out she’s human like the rest of us!

Johanna and Jennifer have similar dance backgrounds, which made communication between the two a breeze. “I was able to easily communicate with her in a way she could assimilate quickly,” Johannah says.

Even though Hustlers was Jennifer’s first exposure to pole dancing, her performance background and their frequent training session meant that she quickly got into the swing of things (see what I did there?), as shown by her Hustlers performance.

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Johanna attributed Jennifer’s impressive athleticism to her dedication and her willingness to embrace the challenge of trying something new. Pole dance is not like other dance forms, and many walk away with scars and bruises, Johanna says. But Jennifer is “somebody who does not shy away from that discomfort,” Johanna told Women’s Health.

Jennifer’s cross-training helped build the strength necessary for pole dancing.

Off of the pole, “we did cross training and we concentrated on our core,” Johanna said. Lower body and back core work, especially dead bugs, CrossFit, and building upper body strength all helped Jennifer to increase her confidence and skillset while in the air.

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And while the workout is strenuous, it’s also a blast. “You’re not thinking about it as a workout because you’re having fun,” she says.

I believe it! This sneak peek into Jennifer’s Halftime show rehearsal looks equal parts exciting and exhausting.

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Jennifer trained for four months for the Super Bowl Halftime show.

In comparison to the eight-week training plan she had for Hustlers, Jennifer’s Halftime Show preparation started the November before her February show. The two trained together four to five times a week for four months.

Coming off Hustlers, Jennifer had the basics down, such as the chair spin, backup spin, and fireman spin, along with the climbing technique that introduced the dancer to the muscle-engaging, unison movement of the exercise.

With the standard moves down, Jennifer worked with Johanna on implementing more tricks like inverting, which is where the dancer holds themselves upside down by her arms.

“You build your steps with a real instinct progression. By the time you get to the hard stuff, you can handle yourself,” Johanna said about moving from spins to flipping upside down.

In the heat of rehearsing, Jennifer and Johanna would clock 12-hour days. “Without even going to the gym, our bodies were banging because we were doing the activity for 12 hours a day,” Johanna recalled.

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The two focused on choreographing a routine that would be appropriate for the Super Bowl and increasing her stamina for the longer performance.

Jennifer did all of her own pole dancing moves.

It was that intensive training that allowed Jennifer to perform all of her own moves for both Hustlers and her halftime show.

And the hard work paid off! Once again, Jennifer made an incredibly strenuous exercise look like a breeze. I mean, just look at her killing it at the Halftime show!

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You can check out her pole dancing performance and learn more about her Super Bowl training in her new documentary Halftime on Netflix now.

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