In the final part of our series that shares the stories and journeys of our co-owners, Demetra Lykidis, Monika Deviat, and Robin Buriak, we have the reason and person behind the existence of our current studio. Aradia Fitness Calgary; the physical space, the community, the instructor team, everything, would not exist if not for Demetra. Her pole journey was not love at first sight, but a slow burn that all of a sudden turns hotlike your skin as the pole burn hits. All of Demetra’s experiences led her to the unexpected point of opening and growing a successful pole studio and community. We hope you find inspiration in these stories, whether you relate to some parts of them or feel encouraged to stick to your own path regardless of how it compares to others.  

It’s still a bit shocking to me how taking a class at Aradia Fitness in 2006 changed the trajectory of my life in so many ways. I was a soccer playing, rough and tumble kind of girl and embracing my feminine side was a challenge but when I found out about pole dancing, I thought maybe it would help me get in touch with another part of me.

I went to my first class and I did not like it, not even a little.  But what to do, I had bought a six-week session so I forced myself to finish the classes and then thought I would never go back. I felt so awkward, so clumsy, the opposite of graceful but by the 5th week, I had started to look forward to it. I loved the fact that although I was a gym goer and played multiple sports, this felt different. I could see the progress more than any other activity I did.  I would be taught a skill, work on it and perfect it – like a checkmark in my head every time I accomplished each skill. Spins, inverts, climbing – check, check and check! I also started to feel more and more confident and comfortable in my own skin, an unexpected benefit.

Demetra Lykidis, Aradia Fitness Calgary owner performs a shoulder mount on a boat in Greece

After taking classes for about a year, I was asked to become an instructor and I declined because of my work schedule. I was asked again a year later and my answer was still no but in 2009 I finally took the plunge. The training program was intense but I slowly gained experience, starting with teaching beginner classes and was certified to teach all levels within the next 2 years.  Surprisingly (mostly to me) I actually loved teaching and still do. It always changes my mood even when I’ve had a tough day. Seeing students progress and achieve their goals is so exciting for me and many times I am more excited than they are ☺. What I realized later on in my teaching career is because I personally struggled many times to achieve a skill as a student, I was able to recognize and diagnose why a student was having difficulties and help them adjust appropriately. My brain is very analytical (which is probably why I went with a math degree) and I like solving problems so teaching to me is about unravelling obstacles and achieving a goal.

I decided in 2013 to challenge myself and so I competed and finished in 2nd place. I always thought I would compete again but by the following year, I decided to purchase the Calgary franchise of Aradia Fitness from Krystal Wall which owned Calgary and Canada at the time. Studio ownership began and my focus was redirected into building the community even more.

Aradia Fitness Calgary was a warehouse space before construction and renovation to become a pole studio
Aradia Fitness Calgary after renovations with poles and mirrors

By early 2015, the new space was ready and I re-opened Aradia with my partner at the time. I brought over a few instructors from the previous studio (Amanda being one of them) and Monika and Robin began teaching at the studio later that year. By 2017 my partner decided that her life was taking a different direction so I approached Monika and Robin to see if they might be interested in taking over her stake in the business and the rest is history! We became fast friends and partners, all having the same goal – to share our passion and community with others.

Pole dancers Magnus Labbe and Demetra Lykidis posing together at the International Pole Convention
with Magnus Labbe
Pole dancers Dan Rosen and Demetra Lykidis take a selfie
with Dan Rosen
Pole dancers Terri Fierce, Demetra Lykidis, and Lisette Krol pose at the International Pole Convention
with Terri Fierce and Lisette Krol

Note to self: Don’t take 8 workshops in one weekend!

During the following years, I put a lot of time into training to continue to better myself as an instructor while also having some fun. I travelled to pole conventions, in person training sessions and completed both levels of elevatED~ pole certification. I was very fortunate to train and learn from Michelle Stanek and Marlo Fisken – they are movement experts and gaining more knowledge on working through plateaus, physics of momentum and force, cueing in different forms and functional spotting was invaluable to making me the instructor and dancer I am today.

pole dancers pose around a pole at instructor training during elevatED with Michelle Stanek
elevatED teacher training level 1 in Houston with Michelle Stanek
pole dancers Demetra Lykidis and Marlo Fisken strike a pose against purple wall
elevatED teacher training level 2 in Denver with Marlo Fisken

I started exploring exotic, specifically Russian (which is how we categorize this style) in 2016. I saw Polina Ginger on Instagram and I was mesmerized by her fluidity. She moved unlike anyone I had ever seen and so I started taking her online courses. Submitting videos, receiving feedback, sometimes not so positive haha – she was very strict but I loved that about her teaching style. I attribute her with changing my focus to this day.

Demetra performs a Russian style pole dancer routine at an Aradia Fitness Calgary showcase
Aradia Fitness Calgary Showcase 2019

So today, as many of you know, my passion is dancing more so than sport. At the beginning of my journey, I felt very uncomfortable with the “dancing” part. Back when I started, it wasn’t something we shared with people at work. I kept quiet for fear of repercussions with my job but another unintended benefit of pole dancing was becoming more open-minded and embracing the origins. It’s important to give credit to the exotic dancers that came before us and acknowledge that Aradia would not exist without them.

My path has included so many amazing people and my team has been one of the biggest blessings. There are certain qualities I look for to surround myself with and one of the main things is caring. Caring about students and their experience in class. Caring about our studio and team members. Our instructors are exceptional, talented, loyal and beyond that, good humans. We wouldn’t be where we are without them.   

Aradia Fitness Canada owners Chantelle Beasely and Demetra Lykidis pose on stage before judging the Canadian Pole Fitness Championships
Judging at the Canadian Pole Fitness Championships in Vancouver with my Aradia Fitness Canada partner Chantelle.

Last year, I took another step and purchased Aradia Fitness Canada with the owner of Edmonton, Chantelle Beasley. Aradia is the largest pole dancing franchise in the world and our goal is to expand our company to even more Canadian markets and support franchises to become successful businesses and share the passion we have with others. I’ve always known Aradia Fitness was special – I took note early on of the organization, certification and training requirements, curriculum with safe progressions, manuals and class structure. It creates an environment where students can easily learn and grow as dancers and athletes. There a reason why this company has been around for 20 years – it is tried, true and tested.

My story is unexpected even to me – I never planned to continue pole dancing after my first class. I never aspired to be an instructor. I never sought out to be an owner of a pole and aerial studio and yet all of this turned out exactly how it was supposed to.

Aradia is more than just a business to me. It is a community of people that support and embrace each other, cheering for the next success and being vulnerable.  It’s not always pretty and never linear but we are all part of each other’s journeys and that’s what makes it special.  I appreciate everyone that was and is part of mine and you have all, in some way, impacted my life for the better.

– Demetra Lykidis