Pole dancing. The term is quickly becoming recognized by fitness enthusiasts, co-eds and housewives everywhere as that “taboo” form of fitness that every gal secretly wants to try. In recent years, pole dance fitness has become nationally recognized as not only a form of fitness, but a sport and dance art form as well. Major network televisions shows such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, “The Ellen Show”, “The View” and even “America’s Got Talent” have featured limber, gravity-defying athletes displaying their affinity for pole dancing.
The Triangle area is no stranger to pole dance fitness either. Since 2007, numerous gyms have opened their doors and encouraged women near & far to go outside their comfort level with this “risqué” form of fitness. Local pole dance fitness centers provide thriving, women-only communities of individuals striving to turn negative stereotypes upside down as they go vertical with their fitness routine.
Local fitness instructor Dakota Fox is no stranger to dodging nay-sayers and “Negative Nancys”, who she says are always quick to pass judgment on a once frowned upon form of movement. In fact, Dakota admits that before she became a “poler” herself, she was once someone who scoffed at the idea of pole dancing for fitness. “It wasn’t until I took my first class in 2009, full of women of all ages, shapes & fitness levels… and saw them laughing & supporting each other, and really putting themselves out there for something new… that I began to really become interested in pole dance fitness”, Dakota says. “In fact, it wasn’t until several months into teaching classes that I truly began to fall in love with this form of fitness & movement”. Dakota now teaches & manages at Aradia Fitness NC, a local studio with two locations in the Triangle, with her 57-year old mother as a business partner. “The transformations I see in my students, physically and more important, mentally… are the biggest inspiration for me as a fitness role model”. At Aradia Fitness, women learn to build strength & confidence and “Meet Their Sexy Side”, as the website boasts, in classes ranging from pole dancing to Zumba, bootcamps to Aerial Acrobatics and more.
To Dakota, the never-ending challenge of tackling a new spin or trick has her pushing her body in ways she never thought imaginable. “I’m in the best shape of my life! I eat better, I take the time to condition and stretch my body… all so I can push the limits of my pole dance fitness journey”. Now, Dakota is ready to take on a new mission – striving to break the stigmas still associated with pole dance fitness by showcasing her skills on a national level.
On April 7 2013, Dakota will be one of over two dozen competitors in a selective, nationally recognized pole dance fitness contest – the National Aerial Pole Art Competition. Would-be competitors had to submit a video application and were narrowed down to only a select few who will go “pole-to-pole” at the Circus Disco in Los Angeles, CA. Women and yes, MEN, will be participating in this annual event, each showcasing his or her personal style of movement in fusion with pole dance fitness. Dakota will be participating in the “Neo” division, restricted to up-&-coming pole dance athletes who have yet to place in a national competition.
This will be Dakota’s second attempt at vying for a title. Her first competition was in September 2012 at the “Supershag Ballroom & Dance Conference” in Boston, MA, which featured a pole dance fitness showcase & competition as part of the weekend’s event line-up. Dakota took home fourth place in that event, just shy of placing in the top three. “I’m really excited, nervous and terrified all at once about NAPA”, Dakota says. “It has been an intense two months of preparing for this event. All you get is one shot, four minutes to perform your heart out, and hope you nail each & every movement to impress the judges”. Dakota, who holds a full-time job in local government, has spent hours training & rehearsing before & after work as well as in-between her full load of dance & fitness classes at Aradia Fitness. “It hasn’t been easy. My husband has barely seen me since February… but it will all be worth it at NAPA. Win or lose, the feeling of being on that stage and performing incredible feats of athleticism, twelve-feet in the air, that defy gravity… and hearing the crowd cheer their head off for you… is so worth it”. Dakota is excited to be fusing her background in martial arts with her newfound pole dance skills for her upcoming performance piece. “This event is all about taking this sport to new heights, pushing the limits of what it can possibly be and, most of all, making it your own”.
Dakota and the other competitors will be judged on various criteria including technique & form, flexibility, artistic presentation & musicality as well as strength & endurance. Judges include well-known names in the pole dance fitness industry, including the 2012 NAPA winner Nadia Shariff. Nadia took home the title last year with her latin-inspired performance to the popular showtune, “El Tango Roxanne”. Tickets for the event range from $25 up to $99 per seat, and event organizer Anjel Dust anticipates a sold-out crowd.
So what’s next for Dakota after NAPA? Well, she says, she plans to take a few days for rest & relaxation before gearing up for her third competition in May, this one closer to home in Virginia, in which she will accompanied by nine of her students & instructors who will also be competing. “I’m really enjoying the challenge of pushing myself both physically & mentally by participating in these events.” Dakota says, “and, most of all, I don’t want to let my students & fellow instructors down. My students tell me all the time how inspiring it is for them to see their instructors involved in the pole community on both a local & national level. It takes away the sting they feel from judgmental friends & co-workers for their choice in fitness. I’m happy to take the heat and help pave the way for them as pole dance fitness continues to become accepted in our society.”
Still a doubter? Dakota encourages all women to give pole dance fitness a try before passing judgment. “A calorie-blasting workout that is FUN and makes you feel great? I say… WHY NOT?”
For more information, please email email@example.com or visit https://cary.aradiafitness.com