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The Importance of Representation in the Pole Community

Aradia: How long have you been Pole Dancing for?
Pally: I have been pole dancing for about a few months shy of three years

Aradia: What interested you in starting pole dancing?
Pally: I had gained some weight due to a new medication that I was prescribed. The rapid weight gain was frustrating, and diet alone was not helping me shed the extra weight. I needed to get into a more active routine. I went to Zumba regularly, but it was a bit too high impact for my chronic shin splints. I saw an ad for the “Intro To Pole Dancing” groupon one day, and figured that it would be a great way to stay active without aggravating my shin splints.

Aradia: What stigmas or challenges have you faced since joining the pole world?
Pally: To begin with, I was never a seasoned athlete or dancer. I had no relevant skills that translated to pole fitness. I had to start from zero in strength, flexibility, and coordination. Strength was fairly easy to build, while flexibility is an ongoing struggle for me. Outside of the physical limitations, I still face a few challenges relating to race and religion.

Coming from a conservative community, I cannot be as open about my passion for pole fitness as I would like. In particular, I have to yet to tell my parents about my hobby, competing, and now instructing pole fitness. Having had a fairly strict Islamic upbringing, I was kept from participating in any activities that would not fit in with my parent’s conservative values. My pole attire in particular would get some disapproving sighs from my parents. Though to me, high waisted and a sports bra may seem fairly normal by our standards, they are far too revealing for most practicing muslims. Additionally, when I first started pole, I was either the only visible minority in class, or one of a small fraction of students of colour. Going into a class and being visibly different than your peers can be very intimidating. You feel like you don’t quite fit in, and that little voice in the back of your head always tends to chime in to tell you this sport is not “for your kind”. This problem is not exclusive to pole fitness, however, the small class sizes draw attention to the glaring disparity in the demographics in sports/fitness classes.

Aradia: You mentioned that you feel this sport isn’t as ethically diverse as it could be. Why do you think that is? What do you think we need to do to change it?
Pally: In the past 3 years, the number of POC students has increased dramatically. It brings a smile to my face when I walk into class and see the student distribution approaching the demographics of the real world. Despite the influx of POC students, I have yet to see higher level students, instructors, competitors, or performers that look like me. I cannot emphasize the importance of representation enough. I am not sure if every POC has the same experience, but growing up, I was discouraged from a lot of physical activities by my family and community. The go to line was “this is not for us” or “do you see other people from our community doing that?” It is difficult to aspire to be a high level athlete or competitor if none of them look like you. The current lack of representation reinforces that exclusionary messaging.

I also think that conservative values and lack of emphasis on sporting activities in POC communities further contribute to the racial disparity in pole. Most immigrant communities hold fairly conservative or religious values that don’t particularly jive with the sensual side of pole fitness. All while growing up in the south Asian community, women are discouraged from participating in physical fitness and sporting activities. Either sport is not feminine enough, requires too much skin exposure, and may result in a masculine physique or disfiguring injuries.

Aradia: What are you competing in?
Pally: This year I decided to compete in Exotic Level 1 in the Canadian Pole Fitness Association Western Canada Regionals

Aradia: What made you decide you want to compete in pole fitness?
Pally: I had previously competed in amateur, and did fairly well for my first time. I have always been a very competitive person. I wanted to try my hand at competing to see how far I could go and to give my pole fitness journey a tangible purpose.

Aradia: What is your end goal with this routine? What do you hope comes out of your competition (a part from placing)
Pally: My decision to enter Exotic was a no brainer. I am not a trained dancer, so I felt very out of place in the amateur division amongst seasoned dancers. My routine in 2018 was very athletic and dark. It was not exactly something that appealed to the judges. As much as I enjoyed putting together the routine, I did not feel at home in that division.

I have always been drawn to the Russian exotic style and decided that was a much better fit for this years’ competition. My goal with this years’ piece is to create a unique and memorable routine that unapologetically showcases my south Asian heritage. I am not the most coordinated, nor the most flexible dancer, but I am confident that I can convey a unique story on stage. My hope is to leave a lasting impression and hopefully encourage other POC competitors to step out onto that stage.

Meet our new instructors – and learn how to become an instructor yourself!

Meet our new instructors, and also learn how to become a Pole instructor with Aradia Fitness!

What does it take? What skills and qualities are we looking for? What is involved in the training process?

Historically, we did something called “Instructor Try-Outs”. We required that students/applicants be in at least the Advanced level of pole in order to try out.
From here, an instructor would lead the applicants through a basic fitness class, providing the owner and other instructor judges the opportunity to gauge personalities and leadership skills from the applicants.

Step 1: We need to see your personality! Do you have the ability to LEAD a class? What does this mean? 
-Can you carry conversation and make students feel comfortable and welcome? Students are so incredibly nervous in their first few classes, and we need YOU to break the ice and make them feel comfortable.
-Are you bubbly and confident, or do you have RBF? (Not going to spell the last acronym out for you, haha, but I’m sure you can take a guess!)
Students want to be welcomed into an environment in which they feel that their instructor is HAPPY to see them and have them in class!

Step 2: Skill demonstration
-We ask that you demonstrate strong technique in the following skills sets: Fireman spin, diamond spin, helicopter inversion, butterfly, climbing, and spiral spin.

3rd consideration:
-Your actions in class as a student can also carry through as a recommendation to become an instructor. Many of our students today were recommended by other instructors! Why/how? The instructors have noticed what pleasure it is to have them in class, meaning: they follow through on directions well, they don’t cross boundaries with instructors, they listen well, and they’re pleasant to be around, and they don’t attempt movements outside of the class structure. Instructors always pass this information along to the owner. A good student = a good team player!

So now that you’re hired, what is the training process like?
Good question, because it’s actually changing now! Up until now, we offered in house certification upon hiring. First, you start with Pole 101/Intro/Party training, which is a full 8 hour day.
Once this has been completed, you will then start 10 unpaid shadow shifts under supervision with a certified Aradia Instructor. Upon the final shadow shift, Chantelle comes to watch the class, giving the instructor trainee a pass/fail grade. From there, each additional level requires another day of training.

*New requirements*

We now require you to be fully CPFA certified in order to apply to become an instructor. You will need your fitness theory or equivalent, First Aid/CPR, CPFA theory, and you will need to pass your final CPFA examination.

Becoming a CPFA certified instructor does not guarantee a position with Aradia, but we do strongly trust in the Canadian Pole Fitness Association certification, and that it will provide you with an extremely good chance of being hired with Aradia.

*Party Instructors*

We are hiring Party Instructors. For this position, you will NOT be required to have CPFA training/certification.
You will be required to work at least one Saturday per month, and one Friday per month! If you are interested, we would love to hear from you!

For more information on the CPFA, please go here: http://canadianpolefitnessassociation.com/cpfa-certification/
Please check our Aradia Fitness facebook page for upcoming CPFA training sessions


Meet our new instructors!
Rhiannon
Rhiannon has been pole dancing with Aradia for just over two years. After auditioning for a burlesque troupe and being told she would benefit from dance lessons, she went to find exactly that! She tried beginner adult ballet, but her adult knees were not happy with that. Soon after, a friend asked if she would take pole classes with her, and she’s still there to this day! Funny enough, outside of pole, Rhiannon is a burlesque dancer – so I guess the dance classes really paid off! The strength and agility she has gained from all the tricks is still mind blowing to her, but she has really fallen in love with the exotic dance aspect of pole. Heel clacks and floor work are her jam! Rhiannon is super excited to be a part of the Aradia team so that she can spread her new found love of fitness and dance

 

 


Roxy

Outside of Aradia, I am an executive assistant to a Paediatric Neurologist at the University of Alberta. My hobby is of course pole dancing. Singing and dancing are both of my passions!

I have been pole dancing for two years as of November 2018. The type of pole dancing that resonates with me is exotic and lyrical. I am still learning and I am still trying to figure out who I am when I dance with the pole. Dancing is one thing, but incorporating pole into it is challenging for me. One step at a time is what I say to myself all the time. I will one day find myself in the Pole Flow world!

I started pole because I won a 3 month membership at Aradia Fitness. I had been curious about it for a few years, but never had the guts to do it. I entered this contest thinking I was not going to win, because I never win anything (lol), but this time I did win! I am so happy I won this contest because it made me realize pole is what my life was lacking.

If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is what I tell everyone, and I want to make everyone feel that they have potential that they can do this; whether it takes them months or years to accomplish one move, I am very proud to help them get there. Teaching is a very rewarding job. To see how students progress brings so much pride to my heart. Teaching comes very natural to me and I decided to go for it, why not?

Pole dancing is much more than what people think; it is hard work. No one knows how hard we have to work to be able to accomplish a single move or put choreography together. No one knows until they try it, then and only then they realize “holy crap, this is hard!” That’s when I crack a smile because they have now realized that pole is much more than what they have been told pole is. Pole fitness goes beyond what people think and believe, and the beautiful thing is that everyone can make their own; whether they want to be sexy, strong, sassy, lyrical, the doors are open and they can pick and choose what they want to be!

Strength doesn’t come easy, consistency is key in order to be great at this sport or any other sport for that matter. Strength is something humans build over time, it just doesn’t come naturally to women. We have to work hard and this is something I want people to understand prior to saying “I am not strong enough for this.” Understanding that everything takes time is important in every single sport or exercise you decide to do.

Dasha

 

I discovered pole dancing 7 years ago while I was living in Easter Europe. It is very popular there, so I decided to give it a try. My first impression was “It is harder than I thought!!!”

After my first class, my shoulder was hurting for a couple of days. I really wanted to be able to do an invert, so I started going more often to classes, and training hard. Once I could start doing some inversions, I realized I was hooked. While pole dancing, I prefer to work on tricks, strength, and flexibility.

I have been pole dancing for a while and realized that I had reached a level in which it’s hard to improve on your own. I needed a new challenge. Being able to share my passion with people who enjoy it as well excited me a lot, and makes me want to progress further and share my experience. It is hard to teach others, but seeing them progress is very rewarding.

Outside of pole dancing, I have a full time job, and I’m a full time student taking classes online and in the evenings.

 

 

 

Amy

Life outside of pole? There is no life outside of pole! haha Honestly, my life outside of pole is pretty average. I have a day job in public health and a fantastic group of friends and family that I like to spend time with when I’m not in the studio. I have a dog and a cat that I treat like my children. I have noticed that some people think pole dancers and aerialists must lead exciting lives full of sex, intrigue, or misdemeanor, but that is simply not true. In my experience most people who pole dance lead fairly “normal” lives (whatever that means) — they just like to hang upsidedown in their spare time 😀

Pole has changed my life in so many ways. I always wanted a strong, fit physique (who doesn’t, ammiright?) but I found conventional gym equipment kind of boring. It never inspired me and it always felt like a chore. Training aerials has been something completely different. I am never bored when I am in the studio and I am ALWAYS challenged physically. Now a days there are times I catch a glimpse in the
mirror and take notice of my legs, or my arms or my back and I see muscles that weren’t there before.

It’s a real confidence booster! Through pole, I have also found a community of people that are so supportive, kind, open-minded, accepting, inspiring, unique — it is so beautiful and very difficult to describe. I think my friend Kelly (also a fellow Aradian) put it best when she said “I would honestly let any one of you plan my future wedding at this point” hahaha and it is so true!

They say that most types of physical activity will help improve your mood (think “runners high”) but I think pole and aerials is extra special in this regard. I view pole and aerials as art. If I am agitated, I can put on some metal and dance out my frustrations; if I am sad, I can put on a slow jam and move through my feelings; if I am happy, I can put on a upbeat tune and spin around the pole until my arms fall off. In that way, pole is so cathartic – And I love it for that.

In pole and in hoop my favorite moves have to be anything involving pretty shapes, cool transitions or interesting move combos. I love working on stringing moves together and creating flow. Mostly, I think the simplest moves often look the most beautiful.
My fellow instructors and students are a major source of motivation and inspiration for me. We are all good at different things and it is inspiring to see what eachother can do. In regards to “celebs” in the poledance community a few of my current favorites are Daria Che, Olga Koda, Vera Kodini, Alyona Amber, Louise Wawrzynska, Sasha Meow, Michelle Mischka, Sonja Sloane, and Vika Poledance to name a few. Another major source of motivation for me in pole and aerials is the challenge it offers. Pole will challenge you mentally, physically, and emotionally, but it is the challenge that makes it great.

I would have to say that EVERYONE, no matter what your fitness level is currently, is good enough to
start pole. When I started pole I had zero upper body strength and I had never taken a dance or
gymnastics class in my life. I was awkward, and hopelessly inflexible. We all start somewhere, but trust
me – once you start, you will be amazed at where you end up!

 

Alicia

A How To Guide on Motivating Yourself To Go To The Gym

Looking to motivate yourself to get your butt off the couch, quit binge watching Orange Is The New Black, and get yourself to the gym?
You’ve come to the right place! I’m going to tell you how, in ONE simple step! Are you ready for it? It’s pretty groundbreaking. Here we go….

1. Don’t

“Don’t what? Don’t motivate myself to go to the gym?”

Yup, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Why are you doing something you hate? Life is too short to drag your butt to the gym, and hate about 90% of the 90 minutes that you’re there. And if you’re socially awkward like I am, trying to wait for a specific machine (because let’s face it, we really only know how to use a few of them), can be quite nerve-wracking. And I think I know how to lift, but WHY do I feel like people are still judging my lifts? Maybe they’re not. Maybe it’s all in my head. Ahhh, stop looking at me!

Anyway, I’m not trying to write a blog about my own personal dislike towards the gym. There’s a lot of people who thrive on gym life, and they kill it out there! But there’s also a lot of people who don’t, and that’s okay!

So let’s break this down.

Why are you wanting to go to the gym in the first place?
Is it because any of the following?
a) Because according to Body Break, staying active is very important. It’s been ingrained into my mind from a young age! 

Well, they’re not wrong. Being physically active is absolutely very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle! But did you know, that you can find forms of physical fitness activities that you actually enjoy? I mean, obviously we’re biased here at Aradia, and we think that Pole Dancing is bucket loads of fun, but there’s also plenty of other fitness boutiques in the city that offer a fun range of classes from: cycling, aerial silks, yoga, fighting, boxing, zumba, pound fitness, parkour… the list goes ON

b) Because I’m trying to change the way my body physically looks in the mirror

Okay, so I’m not saying there’s anything necessarily wrong with this if that’s what you feel like doing… Just be aware that it might not be motivation enough to keep you going to the gym. Especially if you’re anything like me, and you expect to see change within 2 gym days (LOL I know this is impossible folks, don’t judge me), you lose motivation to keep it up, and fast.

But what if there was a workout in which you weren’t focusing on that anymore? But instead, you were focusing on nailing a REALLY COOL pole dancing trick that you NEVER thought you were capable of doing? Once again I might be biased, but the rush of THAT is far greater than seeing the scale drop a pound or two.

So that’s it, that’s all folks. If you’re looking to make a change, you have the power to do it. If the gym isn’t a good fit for you, you’re in luck. The city of YEG has so many incredible fitness classes. In addition, one more personal perk that these studios offer, is a sense of community and belonging. If you’re feeling lost in the gym, I can relate. Attending a studio boutique that offers small classes gives you a much better opportunity and chance at building friendships, connections, and mutual interests.
And hopefully, they can also motivate you to keep you on track 😉

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