Amy Hazel opens up about pole dancing training

The current Miss Pole Dance Australia had previously struggled with anorexia and bulimia and body dysmorphia.

[Laura House| Daily Mail]

For years, Amy Hazel, 25, suffered from anorexia, bulimia and body dysmorphia.

The Melbourne-based champion pole dancer started up the sport at 18 years old but during a year long break from pole while studying design in England, she struggled with anorexia and bulimia.

In 2016, Amy told FEMAIL that this had then developed into ‘flexorexia’ – a type of body dysmorphia that meant she was unable to see herself as flexible enough, especially when she compared herself to others.

Now, the current Miss Pole Dance Australia has revealed her newfound love of balance and how a passion for naturopathy and acro yoga has helped her learn to love herself and find success in the sport.

‘Winning Miss Pole Dance Australia was just such an amazing dream come true for me and I truly put it down to embracing more balance in my life,’ Amy, also known as the ‘Pole Dancing Unicorn’, told FEMAIL.

‘I started studying naturopathy after developing a love for holistic remedies and healing through food and especially with my anorexic background it was so important for me to learn about how to nourish my body with food and herbs.

‘I also dove into a lot more group fitness over the past year like F45 and yoga. Doing group workouts has been so great for my self esteem and my relationship with exercise.’

Amy said she has balanced out her schedule and combined her love for pole dancing with naturopathy and acro yoga which she does with her partner Jake.

"Winning Miss Pole Dance Australia was just such an amazing dream come true for me and I truly put it down to embracing more balance in my life."

— Amy Hazel

‘I find couples acro to be amazing for our relationship and it helps us work through things and communicate better,’ she said.

She also credits her Miss Pole Dance Australia win to this more balanced and holistic approach to life as she has been able to work on her self confidence.

‘I don’t compare myself to others anymore. I started to realise that everyone has their own niches,’ she said.

‘I think it was stepping out of the pole world for a bit and not solely basing my life around pole dancing that allowed me to be more in tune with myself. As a result my winning routine wasn’t any more technical than previous years, it was just more emotional and real.

‘The thing that changed was my attitude and how I felt about my song and costume and just getting more in tune with really enjoying myself up there.’

Amy has also started up a nutrition-focused social media page where she shares snaps of her food and healthy creations.

‘I remember I used to be so conscious of the size of my meals and now I’m all for eating as much as I want if it’s good food,’ Amy said.

‘I would love to be a platform for people to come to where my love for naturopathy and food can help them.

‘I really want to help others and I’m organising a retreat next year where people can come and focus on nutrition and caring for their body and all that stuff.’

"I would constantly compare my stomach, arms and legs to the girls around me and think that I was bigger than they all were when in reality I was 37kg and 2-4 sizes smaller than most of them. I just simply couldn’t achieve "skinny" and it became an obsession."

— Amy Hazel

Amy said her passion for pole remains but with her ever-increasing platform she hopes to help women overcome eating disorders, body dysmorphia or poor eating/fitness habits.

‘I really want to encourage women to reach out – as much as you don’t think people want to help they do want to help you. If you are honest and open there’s a 95 per cent chance they will want to guide you or help you out in some way,’ Amy said.

‘You are never alone and as much as you might think it’s shameful, it’s better to have someone with you and helping you along the way.

‘I personally feel like the minute I start making decisions based on what’s going to benefit me, the world falls at my feet.’

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Lupita Nyong'o learns to pole dance

Lupita Nyongo "needed" to learn to pole dance.

[Montrose Daily Press]

Lupita Nyongo “needed” to learn to pole dance.

The ‘Black Panther’ actress was inspired to try out the skill after visiting a “fancy” New York strip club with a male friend and being amazed by the “sexy” dancers’ skills.

She recalled of the dancers: “It was incredible and sexy, and I thought, I need to learn how to do that.”

The 34-year-old actress loves to try out new hobbies and activities and doesn’t get upset if she isn’t very good at them because it takes her back to the carefree attitude of childhood.

She said: “That’s why I like to try new things, like pole-dancing…I value not being good at things, because children are not good at things.”

Lupita had a great time working with her castmates to get in shape for ‘Black Panther’ because her co-star Chadwick Boseman enlisted a live drummer to play for them.

"It was incredible and sexy, and I thought, I need to learn how to do that."

— Lupita Nyongo

She said: “I got such a head start in this industry that it is not in my best interest to look for struggle. That’s such a powerless place for me to think about: what is working against me. I don’t think of what I don’t have; I think of what I do, and use that to get the next thing. It’s a finite reservoir, so it’s important that I safeguard it with my life.”

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'World's only' father and daughter pole dancing duo explain why sexy routines aren't weird

The 'world’s only' father and daughter pole-dancing duo have defied critics to set up a new studio.

[Janet Hughes | Mirror]

Dave and Hazel Roberts’ prize-winning act is so rare that they were scouted for TV show Britain’s Got Talent- but they didn’t get the result they’d hoped for.

Simon Cowell and David Walliams thought the concept was too “weird” and all four judges buzzed them off almost as soon as they started.

But they haven’t let their critics hold them back, Gloucestershire Live reports.

Dave, now 52, and Hazel, 27, have been doing pole dancing individually and together for around six years.

They have moved from their hometown of Swindon and are now preparing to open a fully equipped studio with 14ft poles to the ceiling in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, in the hope of eventually teaching full-time.

“I did a six week course in the last year of University in Ireland and sent him a picture of me doing a Crucifix saying look what I can do... He sent one back in the same pose saying ‘so can I’. "

— Hazel Roberts

It all started when Dave’s ex-girlfriend saw Bendy Kate on the TV show Got to Dance and persuaded him they should take it up as a hobby together.

At first he took private lessons because new starters were too self-conscious to share a class with a straight man and he tried to keep his new hobby under wraps for fear of ridicule from friends and family.

“Completely coincidentally I did a six week course in the last year of University in Ireland and sent him a picture of me doing a Crucifix saying look what I can do,” explained Hazel.

“He sent one back in the same pose saying ‘so can I’. “

“It’s a matter of trust... If you can’t trust your own dad not to drop you, who can you trust?"

— Hazel Roberts

When Hazel returned home from university she started going to the same pole dancing school as her father and it was a teacher there who suggested they paired up for a Halloween party .

They have not looked back since and recently moved from their home town of Swindon to set up the studio in Tewkesbury.

“It’s a matter of trust,” said Hazel who finishes their routine with a somersault. “If you can’t trust your own dad not to drop you, who can you trust?

“I’ve had other people suggest that I work with them, but I think to myself ‘Not a chance’.

“I wouldn’t feel so comfortable or safe because they would not know my balance points like my dad does.”

The couple perform in skimpy shorts and vests because you need bare skin to grip the pole and say it’s good to see body conscious women gradually building up the confidence to discard their joggers.

“They come in saying they can’t wear shorts because they have thunder thighs, but I just tell them that means they will be able to grip the pole better,” said Hazel.

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Here’s the story behind that pole-dancing robot

[James Vincent | The Verge]

If you’ve been on the internet recently you might have come across the above tweet, showing a robot with a CCTV camera for a head doing some half-hearted pole-dancing. It’s a good tweet! It captures a bunch of extremely 2017 feelings, including dystopia, fear of job automation, and the general mood of absurdity that’s going around a lot. Plus, you know, it’s a pole-dancing robot.

But, as a famous philosopher once asked: why is this robot pole dancing? To what end? Well it turns out it’s art, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

 

At the time [when I made them], they were putting CCTV cameras up all around London, and Britain was becoming the most surveilled society in the world. So I was playing with this idea of voyeurism, and who has the power in that relationship; whether it’s the voyeur or the person being watched.”

— Giles Walker

“At the time [when I made them], they were putting CCTV cameras up all around London, and Britain was becoming the most surveilled society in the world,” says Walker. “So I was playing with this idea of voyeurism, and who has the power in that relationship; whether it’s the voyeur or the person being watched.”

He adds that there was a lot of discussion in the news at the time about the “sexed up” Iraq dossier — a document published by the British government examining the existence of WMDs in Iraq, which a source later said had been exaggerated. “So I was just playing with the idea that if a document could be sexed up, maybe CCTV cameras could be as well,” says Walker. “That’s how I got to these mechanical peeping toms. It was a mingling of all those things.”

Since their creation, the robots have taken on a life of their own. Pictures and videos of them resurface online every now and again, and Walker hires them out to tech conferences, festivals, and other events. (They cost around £1,000 a day or $1,343.) And although they look straight out of a sci-fi B-movie, the bots aren’t technologically complex. They’re made from shop mannequins and are powered by windscreen wiper motors, with their movements controlled by short, pre-defined loops. “At that time I built all my stuff out of scrap and found objects,” says Walker. “So not much tech in there. It’s really old school.”

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[Gameplan] First-timers try pole dancing

[Andi Cabiling | Rappler]

Pole dancing can be intimidating specially since it’s not just your typical workout. Gameplan host Katz Salao and working mom Trixie Monteron try to pole dance for the first time to change how women view their bodies, and to promote an active lifestyle using femininity as their best weapon.

“Pole dancing is a full body workout that is a combination of fitness and performance. It strengthens your arms, back, and chest. And it makes your core a lot more stable,” shared Kayleen Ortiz, a pole dance instructor at Polecats Manila.

“The most challenging movement for me was the first one that Kayleen taught us. When we had to grip the pole, and lift both our legs. And you had to hold that pose for as long as you can."

— Trixie Monteron

Pole Dancing for Beginners

You don’t have to be sporty or active in other physical activities to try out pole dancing. Kayleen herself didn’t come from a fitness background. “Pole was my first sport. So it’s proof that anyone can do it,” she said.

Even Trixie was amazed at how she was able to do the moves on her first try.

“The most challenging movement for me was the first one that Kayleen taught us. When we had to grip the pole, and lift both our legs. And you had to hold that pose for as long as you can. Imagine lifting your whole body just using your core and the whole upper body. It felt like I weighed a ton of bricks doing it. And I was able to do it surprisingly,” said Trixie.

“The bigger part of pole that I like is that it transforms how you see yourself. In pole, you realize that these things that have made you insecure before are really a source of strength.

— Kayleen

Acceptance is key

Pole dancing is not just about being fit or being able to perform the movements gracefully. There is a deeper reason as to why people like Kayleen enjoy doing it so much.

“The bigger part of pole that I like is that it transforms how you see yourself. In pole, you realize that these things that have made you insecure before are really a source of strength. You appreciate the arms that you have. You appreciate the thighs that you used to think were thick. But because of these things that you were gifted with, you are able to do amazing things on the pole,” shared Kayleen.

Like Kayleen, Katz and Trixie also learned to embrace what they once thought were their flaws.

“One of the moments that really struck me was when I wanted to lift my legs and hold on to the pole, but I couldn’t. And I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t do the moves. I learned that everybody’s body is really different. And we’re going to react to the pole differently. And we’re going to do the moves differently,” said Katz.

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Heidi Coker: "You shouldn’t be afraid to try pole fitness."

[ | Atlanta Magazine]

Some athletes wear shin guards and cleats. Others wear helmets. Heidi Coker? She gets lean and strong in the tiniest of booty shorts, because she’s a pole fitness expert with several international titles and a teaching gig at the Pole La Teaz studio in Atlanta.

Though many incorrectly assume she must also be a stripper, Coker—a former teacher who now travels for, competes in, and teaches pole dancing full-time—shrugs off the stigma. “It’s fitness and a sport, not exotic dancing,” she says.

Indeed, many of the teachers at Pole La Teaz are reformed gym junkies, with one abandoning CrossFit for the pole and another finding that it was the best workout after leaving a long and joint-punishing career in basketball.

Below, Coker chats with us about the workout and the fear associated with getting on the pole to get fit.

“It’s fitness and a sport, not exotic dancing...”

— Heidi Coker

What’s your fitness and athletics background?
I was a gymnast from a very young age and competed until I was 21. I was an international elite. Then I stopped—took a 10-year break and did yoga off and on. I really enjoyed dancing, but nothing serious. Then I saw a woman on TV who talked about how, after doing pole, she felt empowered and in the best shape of her life. I wanted all of those things. So in summer 2009, I started pole and fell in love. At the time, it was a little more taboo and misunderstood.

What changes have you seen in your body since starting pole?
I was going between one and three times a week to Pole La Teaz, usually for 60 to 90 minutes. When you go to the gym, [you generally use] weights and using other forces to build muscle. On the pole, you have to control your body and your movements, but also make them look fluid and use your body very precisely. My arms became more developed, my core was getting stronger, and even my legs [were stronger], even though you don’t use your legs as much as you would in a traditional workout. This is a head-to-toe total body workout. I also felt more confident and expressive.

"When I first started pole... Almost 100 percent of the time, [people] look at you and think stripper. There’s nothing wrong with [being an exotic dancer], but that’s not what I was practicing. It’s fitness and a sport."

— Heidi Coker

Do people assume you’re an exotic dancer from a club?
When I first started pole I was very cautious to tell people because I worked in a school system at the time. Almost 100 percent of the time, [people] look at you and think stripper. There’s nothing wrong with [being an exotic dancer], but that’s not what I was practicing. It’s fitness and a sport.

Tell me about pole competitions.
I watched YouTube for ideas and tricks and noticed that people all over the world were not only pole dancing, but competing, and what they were doing was art. So I started trying to do the tricks I saw them do. After a short time I realized that I was accomplishing the same movements.

I entered [my first] competition in 2010 and was competing internationally by the following year. It became something to use as a tool to see the world. What changed my life and career was winning Pole Art 2013. At the time, it was one of the most renowned competitions, and it really launched my name. I also was the 2015 Australian Pole Fitness Champion. In the U.S., I’ve placed second and third and been named artist of the year a couple of times. To me, it’s not necessarily about the titles. It’s just a way to show my art, since in pole there are not as many opportunities to perform.

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Activist pole dances in a wheelchair to raise awareness about disabilities

[Nkhensani Manabe | JacarandaFM]

Erin Clark knows this very well, even though she is not a typical pole dancing candidate. Her congenital spinal illness means that the base of her spinal column has never developed. In spite of this, Erin has grown confident in her body and is proud of what she has been able to achieve.

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Woman Drops 140 lbs in One Year Thanks to Pole Dancing

She piled on the pounds through emotional eating but now she’s completely transformed her figure.

[Sarah Buchanan | Daily Star]

Mel Lovell ballooned to 19.5st after binging on crisps, pastries and biscuits.

The 48-year-old felt “intimidated” going to the gym so she decided to take up a different hobby to help beat the bulge.

After taking up pole dancing just 12 months ago, the mum-of-two has dropped 10st.

The mum-of-two has been filled with newfound confidence as the sport helped to tighten her physique and tone up her loose skin.

And the size 10 lady says the unconventional exercise has given her a rock-hard core that proves she is strong both inside and out.

Mel, from Devon, said: “At my induction lesson I couldn’t even lift myself up the pole. But I felt like I needed to know how to do this.

“You just build it up, it’s about how much you want to do it. It took me about four weeks before I could even lift myself upside down. Now I’ll do it 30 times a lesson.

“It took me about six months to be able to climb from the bottom of the pole to the top.

“I can’t stop doing it. My body has changed so much just from doing pole. Three years ago I’d get on a plane and I’d be too embarrassed to ask for the extension for the seatbelt so I’d pretend it was fastened.

“Before pole my body looked a mess. I looked old. Now I feel tall when I walk and my body feels tight.

“I just feel so strong inside, being able to climb up three metres and hang upside down and do all these tricks. You need so much strength, you’re lifting your whole body up.”

“Before pole my body looked a mess. I looked old. Now I feel tall when I walk and my body feels tight."

— Mel Lovell

Despite her progress, Mel said that standard forms of exercise weren’t working out for her.

She explained: “I was going to the gym twice a week, but I just felt like everyone was looking and laughing at me.

“It turned into going once a week. I didn’t like swimming because it showed too much skin.

“A friend of mine said we should start running. It took about six weeks to run without stopping. One day it just clicked. I was doing 5k or 6k runs.

“I was feeling better and had more motivation. I could play football with my son. But I didn’t really lose any more weight or change my shape. I had bingo wings, loose skin at the tops of my legs, my tummy was just dropping and dropping.

“I liked myself with clothes on, I thought I looked nice, but I didn’t like myself without clothes.

“I didn’t really enjoy any of it. I really couldn’t notice the difference with my shape. I was unhappy with my body and with horrible loose skin.”

"I just feel so strong inside, being able to climb up three metres and hang upside down and do all these tricks. You need so much strength, you're lifting your whole body up.”

— Mel Lovell

It wasn’t until she saw a social media post about a womens’ only pole fitness class that she was spurred on to sign up.

Still feeling self-conscious about her figure, Mel did one-on-one sessions with coach Jo Greer from Pole Dance Plymouth.

The tough mum’s fitness regime now consists of three hours of pole dancing per week, plus an hour of boot camp training – and she even has a pole at home.

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I took a pole dancing class, and I have a newfound respect for stripping

The class combined flexibility, strength, and, of course, a lot of dancing.

[ | Insider]

Society has ingrained in us the idea that men are allowed to be sexually open, while women or femme representing individuals should keep their sexuality a secret. If they don’t, are often labeled a slut, whore, or something equally degrading. Talk about double standards.

I, on the other hand, believe you should be as sexually open or as sexually closed as you want to be. Do what makes you feel the most empowered, whatever that is for you.

For me, that meant trying a pole dancing class at Body & Pole in New York City.

"I, on the other hand, believe you should be as sexually open or as sexually closed as you want to be. Do what makes you feel the most empowered, whatever that is for you."

— Ciara Appelbaum

Most people (wrongfully) believe pole dancing is restricted to strippers or women desperately seeking the attention of men. Some even argue that pole dancing perpetuates sexism. Although it’s impossible to ignore the exploitative aspects of the stripping industry, a woman can — and should — be able to do whatever she wants without it being deemed a desperate grab for male attention.

The minute I walked into class, I realized just how inaccurate that narrative is.

I entered the room and was greeted with floor to ceiling mirrors, sensual red lighting, and, of course, seven poles which were ready for dancing. In walked my instructor Pauline, a stunning blonde with rippling muscles, who began the class with a variety of stretches and strength exercises. Nothing too out of the ordinary.

After about 30 minutes of stretching and activating our core, arm, and back muscles, we were ready to dance. And the nervous sweats began to drip.

"Pauline dimmed the lights to get us in the mood and each person got to 'do their thing' on the pole, adding whatever personal touches they were comfortable with, for a three-minute routine. By this point, we were all really comfortable with each other and each dancer was met with a roar of applause from the rest of the class after their routine."

— Ciara Appelbaum

The dance portion of the class was a lot harder than it looks.

Standing at over six feet tall, I’ve always considered my movements a little awkward. Don’t get me wrong, I have grown to love my long body. But I don’t consider myself a graceful person, and often feel self-conscious when it comes to moving nimbly. When I look at my reflection in the mirror, I’m consumed by long, scrawny arms and legs. This self-consciousness was only heightened by Pauline, who made each movement seem effortless and cool.

But when I looked around the room and saw my classmates were all regular people who were equally excited and nervous, I felt more at ease.

It didn’t hurt that Pauline created a nonjudgmental space by making lighthearted remarks and presenting an all-about-fun attitude. Soon everyone in the class followed her lead and my insecurities were replaced with confidence.

We started the dance section of class with the most basic move  walking around the pole. Pauline cranked up some Beyoncé on the speakers, signifying it was time to find our inner sexy.

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Gravesend pole dancer on sport's Olympic aspirations

Observer Status

[Daniel Green | Kent Online]

Once confined to sleazy strip club joints, pole dancing could be on its way up to the biggest stage in international sport.

It has become an increasingly popular fitness activity. And after more than a decade of campaigning, it has been recognised by the Global Association of International Sports Federation and could become an Olympic sport.

The news was welcomed cautiously by Faye Miller, who used to work in debt recovery but is now a pole and aerial fitness instructor.

“It’s great it has been recognised at last. After all, it is the ultimate workout, just like gymnastics except the pole is not horizontal, but is the other way.”

— Brook Kimber

Faye, 30, who lives in the Singlewell area of Gravesend, owns Athena Fitness, a fitness company in Milton Road, Gravesend,which teaches pole, aerial loops, trapeze, twerking, stretch classes and classic style.

She said there were more negatives than positives of it becoming an Olympic sport.

She said: “Pole has gone down a quite long road when it comes to fitness. A lot of people were quite strong-minded about it and only saw the bad side, like a strip club.

“There’s always a bit of a stigma with it because it’s a bit taboo.

“I do feel that by placing it in the Olympics it will be trying to hide where it originally came from.

“I think in the Olympics it will become very regimented – you can only do it in certain ways. When people do classes it’s quite free and they do any style.

“If people see it in the Olympics, they would think we have to be super-strong.

“I don’t mind it becoming an Olympic sport, but it is not the be all and end all.”

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Pole dancing instructor finds success with Bitcoin

Bitcoin has hit a new record high.

[Lisa Upton | SBS]

The often confusing virtual currency Bitcoin has hit a new record high after smashing through the US$8000 dollar level for the first time.

It marks an almost 50 per cent climb in just eight days, but many skeptics are calling it a bubble waiting to pop.

Pole dancing instructor Dee Heath is riding the surge with her fitness business in western Sydney.

She has spent $5,800 on Bitcoin since July and has more than tripled her investment.

“Look, I love pole dancing but lately my passion has definitely been Bitcoin,” she told SBS News.

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Pole Dancing Empowers Women in Egypt

Under the radar

[Karin El Minawi| DW]

Manar El Mokadem moves suggestively along the pole, climbing up and spinning down again, landing on her glass high heels. The class instructor climbs up the pole yet again and splits her legs in the air. The class applauds.

El Mokadem started exercising with pole dancing more than seven years ago. What started as a hobby became a full-time job when she opened Egypt’s first pole dance studio in Cairo in 2013, a courageous step in a conservative society where many people view the exercise as obscene and shameless. For El Mokadem, it is an expression of liberty — but more than that, it is a form of exercise that is gaining in popularity in the North African country, even if it usually takes place behind closed doors.

(At first, her parents were shocked.) "They worried about what the people might say."

— El Mokadem

Social taboo

Egypt, with its more than 92 million inhabitants, is a country of extremes: poverty beside wealth, liberal and conservativeattitudes.

Belly dancing, which is as seductive and erotic as pole dancing and has been a part of Egyptian culture for centuries, is often frowned upon – but unfailingly, scantily clad belly dancers are part and parcel of wedding celebrations all over the country. At the same time, many Egyptians are wary of pole dancing, which is often associated with red light districts and prostitution — both unmentionable in mainstream Egypt.

El Mokadem is aware of the general perception, but that hasn’t stopped the 24-year-old from exercising through the sport she discovered as an architecture student in Britain. She opened Pole Fit Egypt, a pole dance studio for women, just months after her return home. At first, her parents were shocked. “They worried about what the people might say,” she said.

(They do not perform in public.) "The people think it's a regular fitness studio. We have firm rules."

— El Mokadem

Dancer or doctor

Rihan Soliman, a 22-year-old medical student, said she started taking classes at Pole Dance Egypt two years ago. Her parents know about her passion since, after all, she had a pole installed in her room. What they don’t know yet, Soliman said, is that she’d rather be a dancer than a doctor. The young woman said she will finish her degree all the same — for her parents. “Pole dancing has made me more self-confident and more disciplined,” she said, adding that she has discovered a strength she never knew she had. It makes her feel “sexy, like a rock star” — something her parents would never understand or accept.

Egyptian society is staunchly conservative, even after the 2011 revolution that toppled the country’s longtime authoritarian ruler, Hosni Mubarak. Back then, women took to the streets in hopes of more rights, more political participation and, most of all, more freedom.

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Atalanta's Aerialists Create Winners

Pole Dancing as a Sport.

[RJ Johnson  | Anchorage Press]

“As a woman, nobody tells you that you can be strong.” Erin I’nama says “It’s not something that is really encouraged.”

That is something the owner of Atalanta’s Aerialists looks to change each day while teaching her students about the competitive and fitness side of pole dancing. Classes at the studio happen six days a week, sometimes up to four times a day, which is how I’nama learned in upstate New York at Aerial Arts Fitness, before moving back to Alaska and becoming an instructor herself. She has a background in CG effects and animation, but it’s that study of movement as an animator that helps her  in a world that is all about the mixing of creativity with strength.

For many, the idea of pole dancing is mainly seen with a focus on striptease and sexuality, but for a few years there has been a focus on exploring the health benefits of this difficult activity and from that came the competition level. Pole Sport Organization was founded in 2012 and now has competitions throughout the United States, Canada and Switzerland

“As a woman, nobody tells you that you can be strong. It's not something that is really encouraged.”

— Erin I'nama

For many, the idea of pole dancing is mainly seen with a focus on striptease and sexuality, but for a few years there has been a focus on exploring the health benefits of this difficult activity and from that came the competition level. Pole Sport Organization was founded in 2012 and now has competitions throughout the United States, Canada and Switzerland.

Over the weekend of November 4th and 5th of this year I’nama came home to Alaska with her third championship. She had already achieved First Place Entertainment, level 1 at the Northwest Pole Championships 2016, and First Place Dramatic, Level 2 at the Atlantic Pole Championships earlier this year. Her latest trophy is for Second Place, Level 3 and she still has goals to continue competing. Many of her students attended the most recent competition, and one of them, Taylor Koltes, was able to take Second Place Exotic, Level 2, and for others it was a chance for them to see that all body types, genders, walks of life, and people are part of this exciting sport.

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Pole dancers make their move in South Africa

The public is invited to a night of dance and dazzle at the Pole Factor competition at the Nassau Centre in Groote Schuur High School on Saturday 2 December.

[News 24]

Energetic pole dancing students and instructors will be battling for eight titles from 19:00 to 21:00.

This annual competition is aimed at celebrating the athleticism and artistry of pole dancing across four different genres of the sport, including acrobat, artiste, provocateur and duets.

Kathy Lee, organiser of the competition and owner of the Pole Project studio, says this year’s competition promises to be bigger and better with participants showing much improvement and passion.

“I have competed at many pole dance events across the globe and I can safely say that the Pole Factor Cape Town is one of my favourites... the buzz behind the curtain is so supportive."

— Benita Bouwer

She says the competition is growing every year and the number of entrants has increased.

“The surprise element comes on the day as our finalists’ routines and costumes are kept secret until their big reveal on stage. It gets progressively harder to pick absolute winners because the quality and effort of the performances get so much better each year. Needless to say, we are excited to see what these guys and girls bring to the table this year.”

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How Sexual Assault Survivors Are Using Fitness As Part of Their Recovery

[Mara Santilli | Shape]

The Me Too movement is more than a hashtag: It’s an important reminder that sexual assault is a very, very prevalent problem. To put the numbers in perspective, 1 in 6 women have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes, and a sexual assault happens every 98 seconds in the U.S. (And those are just the cases that have been reported.)

Of these survivors, 94 percent experience symptoms of PTSD following the assault, which can manifest itself in a number of ways, but often affects the woman’s relationship with her body. “It’s common for survivors of sexual violence to want to hide their bodies, or engage in health risk behaviors, often in an attempt to avoid or numb overwhelming feelings,” says Alison Rhodes, Ph.D., a clinical social worker and trauma and recovery researcher in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Though the road to recovery is long and difficult, and there’s by no means a cure-all to such trauma, many survivors are finding solace in fitness.

Strengthening the Body and Mind

“Healing from sexual violence often entails restoring one’s sense of self,” says Claire Burke Draucker, Ph.D., R.N., professor of Mental Health Nursing at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. “This phase often comes later in the recovery process after individuals have had an opportunity to process the trauma, begin to make sense of it, and understand the impact it’s had on their lives.”

Yoga can help at this stage. Women in domestic violence shelters and community centers throughout New York City, Los Angeles, parts of New York state, and Connecticut are turning to Exhale to Inhale, a nonprofit offering yoga for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The classes, some taught by sexual assault and domestic abuse survivors, put students at ease by using invitational language to move slowly through the flows, like “Join me in [fill in the blank] pose, if that feels comfortable for you, or “If you’d like to stay with me, we’ll be there for three breaths,” explains Kimberly Campbell, executive director of Exhale to Inhale, yoga instructor, and longtime domestic violence prevention advocate.

"For some survivors, this is the most difficult part of the class, getting to practice advocating for yourself, especially when adrenaline is rushing through your system..."

— Meg Stone

Learning Self-Defense Skills

Survivors often feel silenced, both during the assault and sometimes years after, which is why self-defense classes, like those at IMPACT, encourage women to advocate for themselves and for other women. One anonymous survivor of childhood abuse and repeated sexual harassment from a professor shares that it wasn’t until she coupled self-defense with her other therapeutic practices that she got the chance to take back the power that was stolen from her, starting with finding her voice.

The first part of class at IMPACT is yelling “no,” to get that word in your body, and that verbal adrenaline release is what propels the entire physical portion of the class. “For some survivors, this is the most difficult part of the class, getting to practice advocating for yourself, especially when adrenaline is rushing through your system,” says Meg Stone, executive director of IMPACT Boston, a division of Triangle.

"Recovery often involves reclaiming your sexuality, including reclaiming the right to make sexual decisions, to engage in sexual behaviors of your own choosing, and honoring your sexual and gender identity..."

— Claire Burke Draucker, Ph.D., R.N.

Reclaiming Sexuality

“Recovery often involves reclaiming your sexuality, including reclaiming the right to make sexual decisions, to engage in sexual behaviors of your own choosing, and honoring your sexual and gender identity,” Draucker says.

Some survivors have turned to more sensual fitness practices like burlesque and pole dance for this sense of reclamation. Despite notions that these activities exist solely to fulfill the male gaze, “this couldn’t be further from the truth,” argues Gina DeRoos, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, pole fitness instructor, and Reiki healer in Manteca, California. “Pole dance teaches women how to engage with their bodies on a sensual level, and love their bodies through movement,” she says. Years of therapy for her PTSD-related triggers, nightmares, and panic attacks, which she still experienced 20 years after her initial assault, were essential in her long healing process, she shares. But it was pole dancing that helped her rebuild self-love and self-acceptance.

Telisha Williams has a similar perspective. Running and all of her other healthy habits were nourishing her from day to day, but something was missing in her long recovery from childhood sexual abuse, which took her many years to unpack and seek treatment for. “Why can’t I love my body?” she wondered. “I had not been able to look at my body and see ‘sexy’—it was kind of blocked.” One day, she dropped in on a burlesque dance class in Nashville, and immediately started to feel the love—the instructor asked students to find something positive about their bodies in each class, instead of taking a cynical or comical approach to the way they moved in the space. Williams was hooked, and class became a space of refuge. She joined a 24-week burlesque training program that culminated in a performance, complete with costumes, and her own choreography, set to some of Wild Ponies’ songs. “At the end of that performance, I stood on stage and I felt so powerful in that moment, and I knew I didn’t need to go back to not having that power again,” she says.

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Photos Show the Drama of Competitive Men’s Pole Dancing

Before you make a rude pun, this is some serious, creative stuff. And can we talk about core training?

[Christopher Harrity| Advocate]

Amateur polers learn that competition is an opportunity to practice and test performance skills, find a voice on stage and show friends and family what you’ve been working on at the studio.

Once polers graduate to the professional level, they compete for titles and cash prizes. Title holders often get recruited for workshops, performances, and gigs at studios, competitions, and productions around the world.

"Amateur polers learn that competition is an opportunity to practice and test performance skills, find a voice on stage and show friends and family what you've been working on at the studio."

— Christopher Harrity

Here are the men who competed in Seattle this weekend in the 2017 PSO: Northwester Pole Championships.

The competitors were: Ricky Pang – Tantra Fitness Richmond Lucky –  The Moxy Movement, Onyx Pole and Aerial Fitness, and Ikarys – Prowness Pole Fitness.

"Once polers graduate to the professional level, they compete for titles and cash prizes. Title holders often get recruited for workshops, performances, and gigs at studios, competitions, and productions around the world."

— Christopher Harrity


Gainesville Festival and Show: Filling First Street with art

The annual Downtown Festival & Art Show will feature art, entertainment and food Saturday and Sunday.

[Jessica Rodriguez | Gainesville Sun]

For the 36th year in a row, Gainesville’s art scene will take over the streets of downtown Saturday and Sunday.

About 90,000 people are expected to attend the Downtown Festival and Art show, presented by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department.

People of all ages can delight in art, music and entertainment throughout the weekend. This year, art lovers can enjoy the 352 Art Area, a new section that will showcase cultural organizations, performing arts and organizations from the Gainesville community, said Downtown Festival & Art Show event coordinator, Sunshine Andrei.

“I love seeing everyone that comes to enjoy the festival. I love seeing them all have a good time. Everyone enjoying it makes my day, that’s why I do what I do.”

— Sunshine Andrei

More than 240 artists will showcase their photography, jewelry, paintings and other kinds of works, Andrei said.

The festival, which is concentrated along South First Street and side streets, is open to the public and will include a free “Imagination Station” for kids to create their own art.

“I love seeing everyone that comes to enjoy the festival,” Andrei said. “I love seeing them all have a good time. Everyone enjoying it makes my day, that’s why I do what I do.”

The night before the festival downtown Gainesville will be full of soulful sounds during the free Downtown Blues Concert on the Bo Diddley Plaza from 7-10 p.m.

“My hope is that my work will inspire Floridians to live more mindful with our amazing natural environment, particularly with water.”

— John Moran

Led by Boston native Curran, the group has performed across the country and was named Boston’s Best Blues Band in 2012 and also won a 2014 Blues Music Award Nomination for Best New Artist.

Opening the show at 7 p.m. will be Gainesville blues performer Mr. Aullie, a singer/songwriter who won the Gamble Rogers tribute song contest in 2013 and won the 2017 Our Santa Fe River song contest.

Following Aullie will be an 8 p.m. set by The Deviljays, a blues and R&B group from Lake City. Both Aullie and The Deviljays are being featured in the concert after winning their respective divisions in this year’s North Central Florida Blues Society Blues Challenge — Aullie as the solo performer, and The Deviljays as the band winner. Both will also represent the area in the 2018 International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Downtown Festival and Art Show itself will feature artists such as nature photographer John Moran. Moran is a water advocate with the Springs Eternal Project, an organization of scientists, researchers, artists and advocates dedicated to inspiring Floridians to value springs.

“My hope is that my work will inspire Floridians to live more mindful with our amazing natural environment, particularly with water,” he said.

There will be 54 artists from Gainesville and surrounding areas, Andrei said. Along with Moran, the list of participating artists from the area ranges from glass artists Jacquelyne Collett, and Mary and Mike McIntyre to Leslie Peebles and Jim Wilson in the Drawing/Printmaking category and painters Eleanor Blair, Tina Corbett, Ernest Lee, Miriam Novack and Peter Carolin among others.

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As talk of Olympic Pole Dancing continues to spread, some bloggers aren't too supportive... Exhibit A

Pole dancing as an Olympic sport? Dear God, how is it possible that a highly sexualized activity that began in strip clubs could end up repackaged as a “sport” on the world stage?

[Daphne Bramham | Vancouver Sun]

Simple. Just like click-bait, pole dancing is part of a cynical and perpetual quest for more money by male-dominated sporting bodies that, at best, pay lip service to gender equality.

The Global Association of International Sports Federations got the ball rolling last month when it granted observer status to pole dancing (aka the International Pole Sport Federation). As an observer sport, it can eventually apply to be considered as an Olympic event.

I don’t know if it makes it better or worse, but along with pole dancing, the seven men and two women on the GAISF’s board also recognized dodge ball, arm wrestling, kettle-bell lifting, table soccer and poker. Yes, poker, which at some point might mean Las Vegas is the obvious choice of an Olympic venue.

The men’s magazine Maxim is among pole dancing’s most enthusiastic supporters, calling it “definitely the sexiest sport ever invented.”

In its feature on pole dancing’s chances of becoming an Olympic event, Men’s Fitness magazine wrote: “Soon you may be able to stand up and cheer for the representative from Vegas. If you can stand up at all.”

Not sure that’s a recommendation.

"...Why aren’t these influential women and others speaking out now and rallying others to stop this bizarre attempt to promote and sell strip-club entertainment..."

— Daphne Bramham

Jon Heshka describes it as “a drift by mega-sporting organizations — maybe even a pernicious drift — away from sport for its own sake to sport as entertainment.”

The drift began with beach volleyball and the IOC requirement that female competitors wear tiny bikini bottoms, while male competitors wear long, baggy shorts. It continued with the introduction of female-only cheerleaders at the beach volleyball venue at the Beijing Summer Games.

Heshka, who teaches sports law at Thompson Rivers University, says, “Money becomes central to the enterprise. And what sells? Sex sells. Risk sells. … Just imagine if pole dancing were at the Olympics. They could sell out 15,000- to 18,000-person stadiums and the IOC and the sponsors would be salivating at the prospect.”

As far as pole dancing goes, I’ve watched YouTube videos of some of the winners over the past six years that world championships have been held. With scanty outfits, music and mood lighting incorporated in the performances by both male and female competitors, it’s entertaining in its own way.

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A pole show puts a new spin on politics

Political commentary and pole dancing may sound like a preposterous pairing, but new troupe Polaris Dance Theatre wants to prove that the form can be topical as well as titillating.

[Oliver Sava | Chicago Reader]

Political commentary and pole dancing may sound like a preposterous pairing, but new troupe Polaris Dance Theatre wants to prove that the form can be topical as well as titillating. Its first production, Poleitico: A Pole Show on Politics, addresses pressing issues from climate change to Black Lives Matter, and deliberately debuts on the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s election.

"Being in Chicago, you're in this big diverse hub and you see these issues every day. It came out during our [first] meeting that this is what we care about, this is what we need to talk about."

— Kelly Smith

After training herself in pole dancing over the last two years, Kelly Smith created Polaris to explore the creative opportunities posed by an apparatus that elevates dancers and allows them to contort their bodies in novel ways. “It’s kind of scary sometimes,” she says. “You can create different shapes upside down, in the air. And then when you hold those shapes, when you spin around or do a certain combo, it’s basically like vertical gymnastics. It adds this entirely different element of strength and grace. It’s almost like you’re flying half the time.”

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9 Health Experts Predict the Hottest Fitness Trends of 2018

One of our favorite ways of motivating ourselves to stay healthy is by trying the latest crazes in the fitness world.

[Ashley Macey | Brit + Co]

One of our favorite ways of motivating ourselves to stay healthy is by trying the latest crazes in the fitness world. In 2017, this meant joining diving into the wellness trend and paying attention to our mental health more as meditation and mindful yoga took off. But now that we finally got a handle on this year’s fad fitness, what kind of trendy workouts can we look forward to in 2018? To answer this question, we asked some of the top fitness and health experts to share their predictions for which health trends will hit it big in the new year.

“There is a growing movement of… classes that focus on games that get people moving [while] totally having fun,”

— Jenny Eden Berk

1. Returning to Play: While push-ups and squats are definitely effective, certified eating psychology coach Jenny Eden Berk believes that returning to a childlike state of play will be all the rage in 2018. “There is a growing movement of… classes that focus on games that get people moving [while] totally having fun,” Berk says. “When I moved from hard-core running and spin classes to a more fun, playful, and mindful approach to movement, it changed my whole life. I look forward to exercise now and burn crazy amounts of calories. Mark my words: Play and mindful movement is the new SoulCycle.”

2. Live-Streaming Classes: While live-streaming classes aren’t new, certified personal trainer and kinesiologist Dr. Carrie Burrows believes that 2018 will be the year that live-streaming group classes will finally gain momentum. “People are protective of their time, and being efficient by working out at home will see another surge in the online space,” Burrow says.

3. Exercising With Pets: Whether it’s going for a run with Fido or doing a session at a cat yoga studio, certified personal trainer Trinity S. Perkins predicts that exercising with animals will be a 2018 fitness staple. “Being able to combine your two loves — exercise and your fur baby — is a great market, and it’s good for both the people and the animals,” Perkins says.

4. Boxing: 2017 has been a huge year for boxing, and Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness predicts that our love affair with the kick-butt sport is far from over. “There is something about being able to punch a bag that just makes you feel so fierce,” Dunlop says. “I think there will be a huge trend toward boxing in 2018… and not your big box gym cardio kickboxing. Whether at home, in a private gym, or in group fitness classes, there are going to be tons more women learning to bob and weave and throw a one-two punch next [year].”

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