At Aradia Fitness Calgary, we love our students. We watch them develop strength and confidence throughout their pole journey.
Introducing our amazing student Josephine!
Every month we feature an Aradia Fitness Calgary student who we feel embodies our community of positive, supportive, powerful and fabulous women! For the month of June, we are featuring Josephine! This amazing woman is at the studio all the time and we can’t get enough of her! The commitment she has and shows is an inspiration to instructors and students alike! She is an absolute joy to have in class, works so hard and always shows support and encouragement to her peers. Here is her story.
Josie in her iguana. Nice work!
Where are you from? Hometown?
Favourite pastime (outside of pole)?
My favourite pastime outside of pole is staying active. It changes with the season. In the winter I love snowboarding and skiing. In the spring/summer I spend a lot of my time biking and paddling/coaching for dragon boat.
What do you love most about pole?
I love pole because it because it’s fun and gives you a sense of confidence and accomplishment.
What is your favourite pole move? What is your favourite class at Aradia?
There are too many pole moves/poses to just pick one! Each pose is beautiful and an intricate work of art and strength. One of my favourite pole moves would be the Ayesha. It took me a long time to be able to consistently perform this move.
My favourite class at Aradia would be the floor play classes. I am by no means a dancer or graceful. But I find with the floor play classes, the transitions and fluidity make me feel that much closer to being an artist/dancer.
What keeps you motivated to come to your pole classes consistently?
There are many things that keep me motivated to return to pole classes consistently. The instructors are wonderful at Aradia. The students are incredibly friendly and welcoming. Also, the progress you see in endurance and strength when you are able to perform a challenging pole move is quite rewarding.
What surprised you about pole dance and fitness?
I found it really surprising how much strength especially core strength, at the higher levels pole dance and fitness entailed. The instructors and other students make it look so easy and effortless. But watching others perform strength moves or beautiful combos is very inspiring.
Why should someone join Aradia Fitness Calgary and start pole today?
Aradia is a great place to start your pole journey. You progress at your own rate. The studio, environment, instructors and student community are amazing. Pole fitness may seem intimidating, but it’s a great investment for your physical and mental health. You meet amazing and supportive people.
There are so many different aspects of pole fitness: strength, flexibility, fluidity, etc. I myself became hooked on the strength aspect. But either way, which ever aspect of pole fitness you focus on, it’s just a beautiful and fun alternative way to fitness.
At Aradia Fitness Calgary, we love all our students. To show them our ongoing appreciation, we choose one every month for a special student spotlight. The choice is based on dedication, commitment, attitude, and general sparkliness. This month, we have chosen Melissa. She came to us in Pole 1 with a great sense of humour and wicked smile. Now in Pole 5, Melissa flies on the pole with so much grace and confidence, that she inspires us all to do the same.
Melissa flies in the Daphne pose.
1. Where are you from? Hometown?
I’m from Calgary.
2. Favourite pastime (outside of pole), including any other dancing you do….
Outside of pole, my husband and I coach a salsa dance performance team. We used to teach classes, but find with two young children it’s more time efficient to focus on a choreography with a set group of dancers. We also love to social dance at the local salsa events.
3. What do you love most about pole?
When I was a kid I was really into gymnastics, so getting to flip upside down and do tricks & combos again is like food for the soul.
4. What keeps you motivated to come to your pole classes consistently?
The instructors and other students are so inspiring! I was just saying in class last night that I thought I would be satisfied now that I’m in level 5. However, I’m surrounded by these physically strong, talented women in my classes who inspire me to keep working through the levels.
5. What surprised you about pole dance and fitness?
There’s a few surprising facts:
A. It’s shocking how much strength and control is required to make things look polished.
B. It hurts, which in turn makes you tough.
C. There’s a misconception about what pole fitness really is. I feel like that’s partially because of class attire. I know I was taken aback myself in the beginning…..seeing girls in sports bras and shorts. I didn’t understand why that was necessary. Can’t we just wear leggings? No! Because you really need bare skin contact with the pole.
6. Why should someone join Aradia Fitness Calgary and start pole today?
Try it and feel your strength increase. Do things with ease that in the beginning were so hard. Talk about a serious fitness challenge as well as learning balance, coordination and endurance. I tell everyone to try it!
To be completely honest, I didn’t think I was the “yoga type”. I went along my days, with what I thought was purpose, commitment and conviction. Until I met my friend Jessica in 2003, I didn’t think yoga would be a good use of my time or add value. As roommates, she talked about how yoga was a way of life as she had just completed her yoga certification. I listened but went about my days without change. The day came that she was going to teach yoga at a studio and she asked if I would help her with her classes. I obliged begrudgingly until we started. Every night for the next few months, I would “take” her class at home to test it out. The first few times were an effort but surprisingly, after that, came a new found appreciation. I was eager to do yoga at night – what was happening? It felt good and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I continued to do yoga for a number of years and then I found my love for pole in 2008. I focused all my attention on this magical sport that I had made my own. As I achieved more and more in pole, I began to realize that my body was not performing at its optimal level. I began holding my breathe, stressing my body and muscles and my flexibility was at a standstill. I began to read about cross training for pole dancers and the benefits. It was then that it came full circle. Yoga worked every part of the body that I used in pole but in different ways.
The main benefits for anyone practicing yoga are learning how to breathe, increased flexibility and strength as well as balance and coordination. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held my breathe doing a difficult pole move… everyone does it and sometimes I still do but practicing yoga helps me focus on my breathe. Holding your breathe instead of breathing through the entrance into a pole move hinders your ability to even do it. Many times you have heard your instructor remind you to breathe. You would think that is an easy fix to do on your own but it takes practice. Something done repetitively, is something that becomes second nature and yoga focuses on breathing each and every class.
On to flexibility; yoga has a way of moving you into poses that are beneficial not only for your flexibility but also your strength. A very simple example of this is Sun Salutations. It’s not a coincidence that we do a variation in my classes to warm up. I have a secret: I do five of them almost every morning when I wake up. It just starts my day off right! Yoga is a safe way to increase flexibility and the more flexibility you have in pole, the better your technique will be. I had an unfortunately injury in 2015 that has stunted my flexibility but yoga has helped me immensely. Even without these types of challenges, many people just chalked it up to not being flexible and that no amount of practice would help. I’m proof that working on it can and does help and yoga is one of the best ways to do it.
One of the biggest challenges in any sport is coordination. Coordination is a key skill in pole and any time you can practice slow, methodical movement, it helps greatly. Coordination is a skill that is learned through practice. It isn’t built into the DNA for some people and not others. The actual definition of coordination is ‘the ability to use different parts of the body smoothly and efficiently’. This skill cannot be more important than in pole. I notice it when I see a video of myself working on combinations. How many unnecessary movements am I doing? Can I reduce these points of contact to smooth out the transitions? Are my legs moving efficiently vis a vis my hands? Yoga is about thoughtful, efficient movement. It’s about flow and transitions. It is exactly what we strive to achieve in pole.
Balance is key, inside and out. We’ve all seen some yoga poses and thought to ourselves “I would tip over”. I still tip over but by practicing, I get better every time :). Even more important in my mind is the mental balance and connection you achieve in yoga. When life is chaotic, concentrating in class, slowing down your movement or even achieving greater goals is hard to do. When my head is not in it, I have a hard time performing. I love the relaxation, release and calm yoga gives me. I have yet to leave a yoga class not feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
If you haven’t tried it before, or if you tried it a long time ago, try it again. I am a big believer in yoga, especially for us. It’s no coincidence that we offer it at Aradia as do many other pole studios in Canada and around the world. It compliments everything we do as pole dancers and it will help you get to the next level.