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The UniCORNER: I’m Not A Fossil, I’m A Work-In-Progress-Hip-Hop-Goddess

I took ballroom dancing in college, spent time clubbing, and I like to think that I can do a pretty mean version of the Electric Slide and Whip/Nae Nae.   Sometimes I throw in a little old school robot arm for good measure. 


Nowadays I often dance at home, especially when writer’s block comes calling as it is an excellent way to shake loose words determined to hide.  In my mind’s eye I have the moves of a hip hop goddess and my stomach and hips roll like my bones are made of the distilled, liquid-gold juju of the dancing gods.   My knees don’t pop, my butt can twerk so badass (no pun intended) that I break through multiple dimensions by decimating the laws of physics, and I’m always on beat.


Pole dancing classes can incorporate hip hop moves.


In my mind, I beastmode so hardcore that the beasts run and hide, and sign up for dance classes in shame.


Yep, that’s right, Beyoncé and Rihanna are both calling, wanting to know where their lead dancer/choreographer has wandered off to.  They’re in a bidding war that will have me set for life, the proud owner of a mansion in Italy.  (If this did ever happen —it won’t— I have a feeling Janine might beat me over the head with an iTac bar and assume my identity to take my place.  If I disappear, you know why.)


Either way, in my imagination my moves are smooth as silk, edgy as hell, and devilishly erotic.




Yeah, okay.  In my dreams, lol!  That being said, there were very few classes that made me pause before jumping in with both feet, but Krunk ’n Krome had me hesitating just a wee little bit. I think partly because it sounds like something only teens or early-twenty-somethings would be good at, which is baloney.  It brings to mind bandanas, mid-drift shirts, shoes with attitude, wild hair, and the perfect-winged-liner-and-pouty-lip-combo.


Age is not a factor when dance is involved. It is a great way to have fun and get your workout.


Could a still semi-out-of-shape, thirty-something learn how to hip hop dance without looking lame?


I’ll readily admit that it doesn’t bother me to laugh at myself or to be silly, but I really, really don’t want to be lame.   Lame is boring, and boring is giving up on life and fun and descending into the mentality of “I can’t” versus actually doing everything on my bucket list.


Who wants to fossilize?  Not me!  (P.S.- If I WAS going to be a fossil I would demand to be fossilized in sparkling quartz rock with marble veining.)


When my coworkers ask me what crazy classes I’m taking that day, their response always amuses me.  It’s rather interesting how many people are intrigued by someone taking a pole class, and even more so a hip hop pole class, but they then quickly add that they could “never do that.”


Bull. Crap.  Don’t think like that, its just your lizard brain trying to be lame and drinking the Kool-Aid.


For one, the class isn’t intimidating at all and even though the class description says you can dress in your hip hop best, you can also just show up in regular workout gear.  The choreography is broken down over the hour with more bits and pieces added after each repetition.  Sometimes a move doesn’t feel right for my body (hello, wonky hip flexor), but nobody cares if you alter the sequence.  To be honest, there have been times I’ve forgotten entire segments of choreography and none of the instructors have given me The Stink Eye Look Of Hip Hop Disapproval and demanded I go sit in the corner and think about what I just did wrong.


Aradia Fitness instructors break down curriculum and choreography. Krunk “N” Krome classes fuse hip hop and pole so students can enjoy a variety in their dance. Photo by Scott Chmelar.


Pro (I’m not a pro) tip:  When in doubt, hip swivels and body rolls will save the day.


By the end of class you’ve gone through the entire piece several times, and then you can either be filmed, or opt (like I do) to be “helpful” and hold the camera for someone else in class.  No one is going to shove you into the frame if you don’t want your sassy attitude forever immortalized, I promise.  Yet one day I bet I (and anyone else) will be comfortable enough in my own skin to be okay being filmed getting my groove on.


Aradia is good for that.


As an aside, it still blows my mind a little bit that there are different styles of pole dancing beyond sexy, fun, comedic, etc.   If anyone is curious, ballet and pole dancing is a great combo and seeing someone in a tutu kick pole butt is pretty awesome.


Pole dancing is a way to combine a variety of dance styles, including ballet, hip hop, modern, contemporary, and many more.


So, yeah, the moral of this rambling story is that don’t be nervous about classes that seem even more outside your comfort zone than even basic pole class.  So what if you’re not the next America’s Got Talent Hip Hop Superstar?  At least you’re moving and having fun with a bunch of awesome fellow students!


Oh, and as a side benefit, if you’re ever at a boring party where you would rather claw your eyeballs out than hear one more witticism about the weather, dropping the fact that you do a “hip hop pole dancing class” is guaranteed to be an audience attention grabber!


Aradia Fitness Cary offers their hip-hop infused pole choreography class several times throughout the month.  Look at our class schedule to sign up for Krunk “N” Krome.


Article Written by Khara Johnson, Student at Aradia Fitness Cary in Cary, North Carolina.

May 19, 2017


The UniCORNER: Penguins, Clothes, and Pole Dancing … Oh My!



What the hell had I gotten myself into?!


I quickly shoved clothing around in my closet, tossing a drab pair of pants over my shoulder and almost taking out my cat, hoping against all hope that somehow two shirts had had ‘relations’ in the corner and magically birthed the appropriate outfit for my evening engagement.


Nada. Just like there had been 5 minutes ago, and 5 minutes before that. What did one even WEAR to such an event??? Maybe I shouldn’t go? I mean, what if I showed up in the equivalent of a chicken suit and everyone else was wearing short-shorts and 9” heels?


“Do I wear heels, socks, dance shoes, sneakers, or go barefoot for my first class?” This is one of the many questions from the first-time poler. Photo by Christopher Donald.


More panic. I can’t even walk in heels without being a danger to humanity. They were going to hate me because I would be known as the woman who accidentally killed eight people with her shoes. I could even see the headlines and my crappy mugshot.


I banged my head against the door and wondered how I got myself into these hare-brained situations. It had seemed such a good idea at the time when I saw the ad on Groupon, but now … maybe I shouldn’t go? I didn’t want to be laughed at, or worse, be that weird chick in the corner because everyone brought a friend and all of mine said they needed to lose weight before going with me.


A good way to try fitness classes and other goods and services is to purchase a Groupon deal. Photo by Christopher Donald.


Godzilla crap. Maybe I should have joined another gym FIRST before going to this one???? I looked down at my un-supple thighs, the-abs-I-didn’t-have, and my (baby) bat-wing arms, and groaned at the idea of putting them on public display. Maybe I could lose 20 lbs in the next 10 minutes before I had to leave?


Well, that would definitely be a rather interesting cleanse … but probably not very realistic.


Why didn’t I know anyone who would have the answers I needed? So, obviously, I did the only thing I could possibly do.


I googled.


As an aside, why the hell hasn’t Miss Manners ever written a post about what you wear to a Teaser Pole Dancing class???? She failed me and I may never forgive her for this.


Before I became a blubbering, blubbery mess I checked the Aradia website and saw that I only needed to wear ‘comfortable clothing’.


Oh. Well … that was rather anti-climatic. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t impulse buy those pleather shorts from Amazon that I would never have worn anyway.


Comfy clothes I had in bulk, which meant that unless I was abducted by aliens in the next few minutes, I was going to have to SHOW UP to an actual pole dancing class and hope I didn’t end up looking like a constipated penguin with hemorrhoids when asked to ‘be sexy’.


I was doomed.




So … my first official student blog post and there were so many subjects I could write about (Hi Janine, Xenia, Dom, Angela, Dakota …), but I found myself remembering Khara-of-a-year-ago and knowing how many times I had heard similar worries from others about their first pole class, and just how nervous we all were. Wrongly nervous, as it turns out. If a new student happens to read this, I want you to know that you are not alone.


I look back now and giggle at the idea that I needed to lose weight before going to the gym. Like, really, Khara? Then again, my previous gym experiences were not stellar as I am not A) the type who looks in a mirror and kisses my flexed bicep while mocking everyone who doesn’t look like an Olympian or 😎 thinks a fun afternoon is only topped by taking multiple shots of organic, free-range and fair-traded wheatgrass harvested from some Tasmanian hilltop by virgin farm-girls who bathe in champagne.


A pole dance studio should be a place where you make friends, gain strength and confidence, and have fun while working out. Photo by Leen Isabel of Pole Dancing Adventures.


We at the Aradia gym in Cary enjoy our tacos and margaritas, and we actually laugh and joke around before, during, and after classes. Many of us even like to hang out together outside of working out, and nobody gives a crap if you don’t want to drink wheatgrass. Or even if you DO want to drink wheatgrass. To each their own, right?


Some of us wear short-shorts to cardio classes, and others wear leggings, but the most commentary you might get about your clothes is someone asking you where you got your awesome gear.


We come in all different body sizes, fitness levels, and ages (I cannot begin to describe how thankful I am for this as I feared that I would be a creaky dinosaur at 34).


I am so glad that I took that first class over a year ago. Yes, I fell off the pole and I am not some pole whiz who shot up the levels. I am not overly graceful, and yes I am working on not looking like a constipated penguin with raging ‘roids when I dance. I struggle, sweat like a pig, take a lot of different classes, and I DEFINITELY complain about burpees (even as I do them) because they completely suck no matter what Xenia says.


But over a year I have more friends and more fun than I did before. I am strong enough to stay up on a pole now, do pushups, and that thing when you’re doing planks and lower yourself to hover half-an-inch over the floor. I can also survive one of Janine’s squat-heavy classes without crying, and I am determined to continually improve.


I wouldn’t have traded the last year for anything, and I’m really, really glad that I didn’t let the fear of the unknown and something as silly as clothes keep me from my first pole class.


Besides, maybe there is a niche out there for constipated penguins twirling around on a pole! No guts, no glory, right?

All jokes aside, you will gain a pole family that will cheer you on through all of your successes. Photo by



Khara Johnson joined the Aradia Fitness Cary pole family over 1-year ago and will often be blogging about classes, her experiences, and the studio.  Check our website for recent blog posts from instructors and students.


Article Written by Khara Johnson, Student at Aradia Fitness Cary in Cary, North Carolina.

May 5, 2017

Be Kind to Your Workout

There have been times in my fitness journey where I’ve left the gym and felt overwhelmed with disappointment, whether it was due to injury, lack of motivation, or even something like coming off of vacation.  I came across the words by famous poet, Maya Angelou.  She said, “The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.”  This quote in itself led me to take a look at self-compassion.  I’ve mindfully put into action the knowledge I’ve gathered over the last few months and applied them towards my workouts.


First things first when it comes to working out…it’s important to eat.  I realized that I need food!  With the amount of energy and effort I give to my workout, using food for fuel became my first mindful attempt to start my kindness trend.  At times I’ve noticed that during my workout I begin to feel light-headed and have tummy growls that no amount of water could quiet.  In the morning, I would only grab a banana and a yogurt and run a RPM of 3.0 or higher in the gym.  I would do my warm-up, increase my weights during my strength training portion, and jump rope in between the two.  First-round of the workout, I would be good.  Second-round, I would be unfocused and hungry.   Third-round, I would end up walking to the closest deli to eat!  This created a revolving door of cheating myself.  There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a sandwich, but the problem for me was giving up too early into my workout and harshly punishing myself for the mere fact that I was hungry.  On my way to the deli shop, I’d be bashing myself for leaving the gym and be upset at myself for being hungry.  Breakfast is an important meal to kick-off your day, especially when you’re planning for a workout.  For that time of day where I criticize myself the most, I need to make sure that my body has the fuel that it needs to fully benefit from my workout.


Eating breakfast and making sure you’re body stays hydrated is important during workouts. Make sure your body has the right amount of food at the beginning of a workout to burn the proper amount of calories.


Food is important for your body, especially when it comes to working out.  The body needs to be able to burn calories during our workouts, and without it, we lose the energy that is needed.  I learned that one of the keys to a good workout is actually having healthy foods in your system that will help keep you strong and satisfied while you workout.  My mood and thought patterns become more positive after I eat.  Therefore, my first step for success was to put together a meal that matched my workout goals for that day.  Eating foods throughout the day that cater to the success of my workout is a sure way of being kind to your body and your workout.


I was able to tackle the first problem by making sure my body had the essential foods it needed to burn calories and increase my energy.  The next issue was to make sure that I followed through with my workouts strategically, ensuring that I did the proper warm-up, workout, stretches, and cool-down for my body.  Mapping your workouts, allowing yourself to see what your goals are for the day, and hitting all of the important factors are important when working out.  The breakdown of a daily workout can be found here.  This is when I can apply effort and focus in order to maintain the integrity of the workout.


Proper stretching after workouts will ensure progress in flexibility, muscle maintenance, and solidifies a successful workout.


Kindness and compassion should NEVER be seen as laziness during the workout.  This whole process is about coaching yourself through one of the toughest things you put your body through.  We choose to challenge ourselves and reach new goals, making sure to avoid injury.  When you relax your mind, try to consistently remind yourself to be your own best friend.  Make sure that you give yourself a pep talk when tackling workouts; say nice things, compliment, encourage, and enjoy yourself!  It may sound a lot like “mirror talk,” but remember that it’s okay to give yourself these positive affirmations.  Get rid of the negative and instead of saying “I can’t,” you can remember how good it feels to say “I can do 100 core crunches with no problem!” Take the time to enjoy what you decided to do.  With the tools at hand, it will trigger pleasant results and improve your confidence.  Motivation is a great thing and working out definitely enhances that.  Other mood-boosting suggestions can be used to assist workouts and be beneficial to them.


Be kind not only to your workouts, but also to yourself. Stay motivated and send out positive affirmations to yourself.


Next time you decide to add extra weights to your machine or you tackle a new workout, be sure to add more positivity to them.  Take the time to provide the body with sustenance before and after your workout.  Continue to stay hydrated throughout the day.  Take time to warm up thoroughly, based on the fitness routine we have committed to.  Put forth much effort, not slacking, and enjoying the process. It’s time to smile and move forward.  Self-compassion is worth exploring, especially when we apply it toward our fitness lifestyle.  The personal achievement of being aware and present daily will ignite a desire to train and workout with style and grace.



For more information on weight management, nutrition and health issues, and meal planning, please visit the United States Department of Agriculture.  Nutrition-related articles, food information, and other dietary facts can be found.


Article Written by Chante Smith, Instructor at Aradia Fitness Cary in Cary, North Carolina

March 23, 2017



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