A passion for pole dancing

Don't I look so happy even though it hurts!?

When people ask me about my hobbies, I usually mention yoga, surfing and running. These are activities I enjoy, but they’re not my passion. My true passion is pole dancing. POLE DANCING! That’s right, I’m saying it out loud and proud! POLE DANCING!

Some basic inverts: the Gemini and Fallen AngelFor years, I’ve spent a few nights a week working out at Studio Rio in Virginia Beach, Va., learning how to do handstands, headstands, splits and a range of other challenging contortions on the pole. I have never once dreaded going to the gym. It’s the other way around, I’m upset when an obligation comes up that makes me miss a workout! And once I get to the studio, I usually stay for several hours and hate having to leave. When I do finally leave, I’m exhausted, sore, bruised and banged up! The girls I work out with at Studio Rio are my best friends. We challenge each other and cheer each other on both on the pole and in life. That’s what makes Studio Rio so special and why I drive an hour and a half from North Carolina to train there.

Now, you can see why pole dancing is not an easy hobby to bring up in conversation. As a public relations professional, I definitely understand there could be negative implications for my announcing online that I have a passion for pole dancing. A typical reaction to my passion for pole dancing might be to question whether I am or have ever been a stripper. Nope! And neither are the other girls I spend my time practicing with. There is a realm of pole dancing far beyond strip clubs that is sadly unknown to many: pole dancing for fitness. This kind of pole dancing is about strength, flexibility and an infinite amount of sore muscles and bruises.

I am not one to frequent strip clubs, but from what I’ve heard you won’t see much of our pole choreography in your local joint. The owner of Studio Rio is a former dancer and she never pole danced on stage like we do at her studio. She had to learn pole dancing for the first time when she opened the gym because she knew it would be popular!

Yes, there is still an element of sexy to pole dancing for fitness. That’s partially because you have to have your skin exposed, which helps you "stick" to the pole. It’s also because it is dancing and because we do it in heels (more of a challenge). Don’t hate us because we’re sexy! Nobody hates on those girls who rock bikinis playing beach volleyball in the Olympics. It’s just part of the sport. If you take the time to learn about pole dancing, you’ll quickly be able to appreciate the athleticism involved.

I have never been in better shape, and it’s because I am addicted to practicing and learning new skills each week. I have to run, lift weights and do yoga to condition myself for pole dancing. I have a pole in my house (in my workout room, not my bedroom!) so I can practice when I’m away from the studio. I don’t pole dance to look a certain way, I pole dance because it's fun and to feel a sense of accomplishment when I’m pushing my physical limits.

It’s important we all have a healthy hobby we are passionate about. Pole dancing is an extremely healthy hobby that keeps you fit and feeling great. I do absolutely love yoga, running and surfing for those reasons as well, but poles is my passion.

Not enough people know about pole dancing for fitness. For example, did you know there are competitions and that even men pole dance? Or that the International Pole Dance Fitness Association is petitioning to make it an Olympic sport?  Pole dancing is nothing to be looked down upon, and I’m proud to show all of you what my girlfriends and I have worked so hard to learn.

Can your girlfriends do this? I'm just hanging out with Jenilee (up top) and Trisha (below).

These girls are amazing! Top left is Mashayla doing a handspring to the pole and then to the right of that she's working on it with Katrina. Also, pics of the awesome Jenilee. Yep, she's upside down in the splits!Me in a headstand, Trisha in a pike and me upside down again in a handstand.

Every sport has its heroes. Pole dancing has world champion Felix Cane (who also stars in Cirque du Soleil). So, take a look at what she can do and see what inspires my girlfriends and I to practice each day!