Cycle For Curls: Soul Cycle Meets Charity In The Name Of Lost Hair

Curls For Girls

You may have noticed that I don’t talk much about cycling here. It’s because I struggle with cycling (cardio isn’t my strong suit, and my legs aren’t as strong as they may appear so pedaling can be a challenge), and I’ve only been to about three  classes. So, when I agreed to participate in the First Annual Cycle For Curls charity event (by Curls for Girls), I  questioned my sanity. However, I soon discovered that Soul Cycle is an entirely different experience, especially when you’re surrounded by positive energy in the name of charity.

Plus, progression doesn’t come from staying within your comfort zone, right? Exactly.

So, here’s the backstory: Curls for Girls  is a 501c3 organization founded by celebrity hairstylist and beauty expert, Pat Sumpter. Its goal is to provide age-appropriate wigs and mentoring to girls experiencing hair loss due to treatment for medical-related illnesses or other conditions at no out-of-pocket costs to their families.

Curls For Girls
With Pat Sumpter, the founder of Curls for Girls.

Sumpter partnered with the American Cancer Society, and tapped two time Emmy-winner Mara Schiavocampo, also known as, “the next Diane Sawyer,” to host the event at Soul Cycle on the Upper West Side. Yup, we piled into Soul Cycle and spun in the name of charity!

You should also know that Mara Schiavocampo is an avid fan of Soul Cycle. It helped her lose over 90 lbs post pregnancy with her first child (you can read all about that in her book, THINspired: How I Lost 90 Pounds–My Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Self-Acceptance). Speaking of, she is currently about eight plus months pregnant and out-cycled all of us  (with the exception of our awesome instructor), and she was as sweet as pie.

Mara Schiavocampo, Good Morning America
With Mara, the Soul Cycle Slayer!

Our 45 minutes of cycling to everything from Beyonce to Mary J. Blige was lead by Liz Chestang, who made the experience enjoyable with good music and a great attitude. For the first time in history, I actually enjoyed a spin class because it seriously wasn’t just spin, it was Soul Cycle, which is an experience of it’s own (more detail on what Soul Cycle is actually like soon), and I was surrounded by positive vibes.

Liz Chestang, Soul Cycle
Post workout swelfie with Liz, our fearless Soul Cycle instructor.


Vegan Divas
We sure did indulge post workout. Vegan Divas provided the treats.


Nubian Heritage Gift Bags
We were spoiled!

I caught up with Pat Sumpter to chat about her inspiration for launching Curls For Girls two years ago, her reason for pushing forward, and how she personally keeps in shape. Keep reading for the good stuff!

Why is this cause so dear to your heart?

I’ve worked in the industry for many years. I actually had the opportunity to work with some amazing people and I’ve worked with a lot of women that were experiencing hair loss and over the years I would help them find wigs and have them fitted for wigs and just kind of teach them that it’s okay. You put your wig on and it’s all about your attitude and you just keep it moving. I know from working with these women over the years how traumatic it is to a woman to lose her hair. People say, “Well it’s just hair,” but it’s not just hair. That’s our identity. Then people started contacting me about younger family members that were experiencing hair loss and when I started doing research and trying to help them find wigs, I realize that there was really no place to go to buy wigs for young girls. I knew that I always wanted to do something to give back and at that moment I just thought you know what? That’s it.That’s basically how Curls for Girls came about.

What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself since launching Curls for Girls?

I never realized how rewarding and fulfilling Curls for Girls would be for me. I just can’t even explain how I felt when I provided the wig and the beauty day. I’d never felt anything like that before. To see them happy and wearing their wigs and styling it and feeling beautiful, it’s the most beautiful feeling in the world for me. I always say that I’m really proud of the things that I’ve done, but there’s nothing like Curls for Girls. The other thing is that spending time with these girls and what they’re going through, I think at that moment when we do the beauty day, I feel like everybody in the room feels like they need to express gratitude more often–because nine, ten, thirteen-years-old, going through this treatment, losing their hair and they miss years of school and everything–it just really makes you look at life differently. I feel like it just keeps me grounded and it makes me want to do more.
What’s next for Curls for Girls and yourself as a business woman in general?

What’s next for Curls for Girls? We’re based here in New York. I actually went to my hometown, St. Louis, and we have a base there as well. I partnered with two hospitals. We’ve partnered with the American Cancer Society, St. Jude, Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia and we want to just try to reach more girls in the coming years and we also want to expand to other cities. I’m very, very happy and blessed and to be able to provide this service.

Tell me about your personal fitness habits. Do you soul cycle on a regular basis?

This was my first time doing Soul Cycle.  I was in the military years and years ago, and I think that was my introduction to staying fit, and after the military I was like, “I’m never working out again in life,” and then I realized I missed it and how much it had become a part of me. I just make sure I get some type of exercise in and so I always tell people, anything can be exercise so don’t look at it like, “Oh my god, I can’t do this class or I can’t run.” You can just walk. You can do anything that’s exercise. Parking far away from the store and walking. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. I look at everything as exercise.

For more information for how you can get involved, visit


Only A F*** Boy Can’t Handle A Badass Pole Dancing Woman

La Femme Suite

Unfortunately, the internet is literally the wild wild west…and high school, or even, the Derek Zoolander School for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too . People steal other people’s photos and create memes to spread fake news (that people unfortunately believe), illustrate stupid points, to be funny, or all of the above.

I’m not going to lie, I have posted memes, and have definitely laughed at many, but I do it in jest if the point being made is harmless or silly, never at someone else’s expense. Sadly, a lot of people don’t use that type of discretion. In the name of taking things too far, or trying to be funny, or to get clicks and followers, they post dumb shit like what you see above.

The person who posted it is a “comedian.” Based on browsing his social media for all of 5 seconds, I assure you he’s not funny, and is frustratingly getting the attention from this that he intended, so I’m not sharing his name. I don’t usually read comments because I don’t like being reminded how many children have been left behind, but I did this time because I knew a meme like this would attract all the fuckboys who have dumbass philosophies on life and love. I intended to laugh, but like,no. How can you when people are dead serious about this harmful way of thinking?

In fuckboy world (also known as Ashies or the Basement Boy Collective), “How to Get a Man 101” means that women are to treat men who ain’t shit like the king he is not by putting him on pedestal, fixing his plate, having amazing sex aimed at solely pleasing him, turn a blind eye to his cheating, and of course, being able to cook. Because, yes, ladies, these skills are how you get and keep a man–communication be damned, just be cute and stfu, and your relationship will be fine. It don’t matter that he ain’t shit because he’s a man, and you should be happy that someone with a penis is interested in you at all because that’s what your life is all about. Do your duty as a real woman so that you don’t become single and bitter like all these pole dancing hoes out here who can’t cook.

Okay, obviously I’m being facetious. But like, the sheer stupidity of this school of thought, and memes like this are in abundance, and it boils my blood. What this is, is a misogynist who saw women, especially black women (don’t think the subtle shade with the women in the cooking class on the bottom being white went unnoticed), being happy and deciding to TRY to shit on it. Meanwhile, women who pole dance are all like:

And like:

And like:

And like:

NYC’s most recent elevatED grads. This is what happened when we were told to be fierce 😂😁.

A photo posted by gangstarrgirl (@gangstarrgirl) on

We are amazing and confident and anyone who has an in depth conversation with a poler will walk away from that conversation understanding how much pole has actually changed lives (it has helped me overcome an eating disorder, for example, or has even given women the courage to leave abusive relationships, and much more). Men pole dance too, yes, but let’s focus on women for the sake of this asshat meme since it’s women being shamed.

I’ve met women who were doctors, scientists, teachers, and so much more who pole dance AND can cook, because the ability to cook isn’t taught in class (seriously, how many people do you know have actually taken a cooking class because they “needed to learn” how vs. it being a hobby?), and paying for pole classes vs. paying for cooking classes are two completely unrelated points, as if someone can’t do both.

Do you see how one dimensional these fuckboys are? They are literally cavemen. They are the men who when you ignore them when you’re walking down the street who probably follow you, curse you out, or tell you that “you’re ugly anyway,” aka, no one who is sane or has her self esteem in tact would want them. Sadly, some women who have been indoctrinated by patriarchy believe them. These are the women that keep these Basement Boy’s hopes and dreams alive so much that they think they’re kicking knowledge “or getting the conversations started” with backwards memes.

Meanwhile, women like us wouldn’t give them the time of day. That’s what this is about. “I see an woman who makes me feel even more insecure, so I have to make her feel small.”

Womp womp.

Fuck off, Mr. Fuckboy.

Those of us polers who are happily married know what grown, secure, mature and well-adjusted men are like. Speaking of grown and mature, “wifing” is very high school and college concept (#ByeFelipe), and anyone with half a brain understands that women don’t exist to cater to male entertainment and entitlement. Not everyone wants to be a wife, or in a relationship, and staying married is definitely about more than just cooking.

So take your fuckboy philosophies back to your mama’s basement. Ladies, iron x, shall we?

P.S. The top pic in the meme above is at La Femme Suite in Harlem.  Check them out, or come take classes with me Tuesday nights at Sweet Water Dance and Yoga.

Roz Mays ‘The Diva’ Is Definitely Not Too Fat For Fitness

Roz Mays
Roz “The Diva”stops by ‘The Doctors’ to talk size discrimination in fitness.

Roz Mays, also known as “The Diva”, has been on a roll lately! And I’m proud to say that she is definitely one of my pole sisters. Actually, she is one of the people I encountered in my very first pole dancing class in 2011, who encouraged me to keep going just by her existence. I was inspired by how confident she was, and how good her moves were, but that’s just me…and probably most people. However, there are unfortunately many people who have negative views toward anyone who isn’t a size 2. That’s just what it is.

Enter that time that Roz auditioned for America’s Got Talent, where Howard Stern attempted to roast her. He basically told her that she would be seen as a joke and that she was too fat for fitness. Sadly, this isn’t something that Roz hasn’t heard before. Many people seem to believe that fitness is all about size, which actually isn’t the case. There are heavier people who are fit, and there are slim people who aren’t. The other thing is, just because someone seems trim and fit, and actually has muscles, doesn’t mean that their form is correct, or that they’re someone you generally want to train with (there are a lot of trainers and fitness personalities out there who don’t use or teach correct form). Everyone starts somewhere when it comes to working out. Some people (aka the lunks) forget where they used to be and look down on everyone else. Personally, I’d rather train with someone who is humble, fun, and encouraging, and all of the above is exactly what Roz is.

Since that AGT snafu, Roz has been all over the media spreading her message of size diversity. Enter The Doctors. I saw this floating around social media and got super excited. Check it out:

Again, you have to start somewhere. You aren’t too [insert self-deprecating statement here] for fitness. How else do you think you’ll achieve your goals in a healthy way? As cliche as this might sound, haters gon’ hate, but haters don’t have any say in your life. They don’t pay your bills, and they damn sure ain’t gonna sit at the doctors office for you, right? So, get your life and seek out instructors and fitness environments that have your best interests at heart.


The Menstrual Cup Saga Continues: Road Tripping In West Africa And The Diva Cup Potential


A couple of weeks ago, I posted about how I had been trying menstrual cups for several months with no luck. By then I was on my third brand, Diva Cup, and still skeptical, but it seemed as if the Diva Cup was actually showing some progress after an initial awkward start, but I needed to do more research.

I have gotten my period again since that post, and once again I used the Diva Cup. This time around, I was in a new environment where my period was acting erratically and I was road tripping. Basically, I went on a nine day trip to Ghana and Togo, and my body reacted. In case you didn’t know, traveling across time zones can affect your period, especially if you go somewhere tropical. If that wasn’t a test then I don’t know what was!

I willed my period to come early, as in, a week before the trip, but I was playing myself because my period comes like clockwork, never early, never late (I think it was late once, but you get the point). So, it was just my luck that I woke up on the morning of my afternoon/overnight flight to Ghana with full on blood in my underwear. It wasn’t heavy, but I figured that by the time I got to Accra the next day, it would be heavier. I’m not about that plane bathroom life (I’ll hold my pee for entire flights if I can; the longest I went to date was 10 hours) or changing pads and tampons while traveling, so when I got to the airport, I inserted the Diva Cup about an hour before my 9.5 hour flight.

When I got to the other side, I discovered that the cup served me well. There was no spotting in my underwear and everything was in the cup. However, being the cynic that I am, I still doubted it. I had to wait until my cycle turned up the volume before I made a decision, and figured that I’d have at least another 3 more days before I could fully determine. My period usually lasts for about 6 days, and I get a good 2 heavy days, and one and a half medium days out of that.

Side Note: This is me in Togo, by the way:


Traveling made my body act really screwy. Not only did I have an 8 day period (#DaFuq), but my period was misleadingly light for the first 3 (It’s usually at full power by the second and third day), and then turned on the heavy blood works toward the end, but it kept coming and going between light and heavy (I wasn’t the only woman on the trip who experienced that). It was annoying and weird, but I must admit, the Diva Cup kept me sane. I was still worried about it, but it got me through two 5 hour road trips, and a 14 hour road trip was was supposed to be 5 (um…road tripping in West Africa can be dramatic, and traumatic, and I still question my sanity, but that’s another story). On the latter road trip, I should have changed midway, but I decided to be trifling and keep it in (also because rest stop stations aren’t really a thing there, so your other option is to pray for a gas station that actually has a bathroom, or go in the bush, and the latter wasn’t happening with a cup because…soap, water and germs). When I got to my final destination, my cup had almost runneth over and there was some spotting on my panties, but it wasn’t terrible.

Overall, here’s what I noticed: On my really heavy days, there was no way I could keep the cup in for the full 12 hours because after a while, some blood droplets began dripping (slowly, but still) down to my panties. It wasn’t soggy or gross, and honestly, I didn’t notice until I looked, but I’m not about that blood stains coming through my pants life, so I remained vigilant. What worked for me on heavy days was changing after about 8 hours. I also noticed that I shifted on occasion. It didn’t happen much, but when it did I noticed and made the proper adjustments.

I’m getting a better hang of inserting my Diva Cup, but I still need some practice. If you put it in too high then the cup will definitely cause leakage, and if it hurts when you insert it start over, because you’re probably putting it in wrong. Like I said, I’m still practicing, but I’m getting closer to success. Perhaps I’ll be a pro by the end of my next cycle.

Will Menstrual Cups Ever Let Me Be Great?

Diva Cup

Aside from cramps and fatigue, the worst thing about my period is having to wear pads and tampons. Pads, no matter how thin, feel like diapers and get soggy, and tampons are rough (at least to me), drying, they can throw off your vaginal pH, carry the risk of toxic shock syndrome, and trace amounts of various toxic chemicals that may or may not be harmful. They’re also expensive.

On the other side of pads and tampons you have menstrual cups. Menstrual cups tend to be made with reusable silicone, and other polymeric-like materials (it differs by brand), which means less risk for toxic chemicals to leak into your body, no risk of toxic shock syndrome, you can wear them for longer stretches of time (most boast up to 12 hour wear, but that still depends on your flow), and many can be used repeatedly for multiple cycles (or until they finally wear out). The types of menstrual cups you get, and there are a lot of them out there, vary, but the general consensus is that they’re better for your body, and the Earth.

After reading my friend Sheena LaShay’s experience with the Instead Soft Cup, I decided to give it a go for the first time last year. For some silly reason, I assumed the entire process would be simple, but nope. That wasn’t the case.

My first round with the Soft  Cup, and the three subsequent months of trying to make it happened were frustrating. The problem that I kept having was that the cup kept slipping out, and also shifting out of place, which would cause it to leak. So, basically, I still ended up wearing pads with my Soft Cup because I was afraid of shifting and leaking. Before you start questioning my insertion practices, do know that I’m familiar with my body and what the inside of my vagina feels like. I work with Yoni eggs, generally feel around up there often just to make sure nothing palpably weird is going on. Most important, I read the instructions thoroughly, and made several attempts to get the cup to sit right by inserting in different ways and from various positions, and it just didn’t work. I figured that it was something I needed to keep practicing and getting used to, so I decided to try it for a total of three cycles. By the end of my last cycle, I was frustrated and convinced that there was something wrong with the way my vagina was shaped. The verdict: Soft Cup didn’t happen.

The next up to bat was the Luna Cup. That also came with issues. The first cup I ordered was the wrong size (because the Amazon shop that I ordered it from was mislabeled), so it didn’t fit properly (yup, I tried it anyway). The next time around, I ordered the correct size and still no bueno. The cup kept slipping out and shifting out of place, which led to that pesky leaking problem again, so I decided to give up.

Months later, which brings us to my last cycle, late last month, I decided to try again with a different brand.

See, what had happened was…I stumbled upon a post on Facebook from a group of women singing the praises of various menstrual cups. Everyone had tried and had great success with different brands, and I was just confused because I felt like the only menstrual cup failure. Seriously, I have read nothing but glowing reports about menstrual cups, various brands, everywhere, even beyond that Facebook thread, but when it came to me they just weren’t working.

The women in said Facebook group are women whose opinions I take seriously, so I decided to give it ago again. This time around, I tried the Diva Cup.

The verdict is still out, but I made some progress. I had the shifting out of place problem for the first two days, but by day three I seemed to start developing a rhythm and finally got comfortable-ish. I still wore a pad just in case the shifting out of place problem started again, but for the rest that period, aside from mine spots here and there, it seemed that I had finally found a cup that worked for me (I consider my flow heavy, btw).

Admittedly, I was too scared to work out with the cup so I’m not yet satisfied in my research. I need more testing before I go around boasting that I’m a menstrual cup convert, but things are finally starting to show promise. Give me another couple of cycles before I get back to you on this with more thorough details!

8 Common Mistakes To Avoid When You Are A Newbie Pole Dancer


Pole dancing is an addictive excellent workout. You build upper body and core strength, learn how to make incredibly difficult strength moves look graceful, and develop a sense of camaraderie with a unique group of people who understand what you go through. Newbies may find it hard or overwhelming to approach the sport. However, pole can be simplified by avoiding these 8 newbie mistakes when you start you are a newbie pole dancer.

Underestimating It

Sometimes people underestimate how hardcore pole dancing is. This is especially true for people who are athletic, or have an athletic background. Prior or current physical activity can be helpful, but pole is pole, and it requires a different approach than anything you’ve probably ever done. It requires a lot more strength and patience than you realize, so you are still going to have to work hard. You will also get bruises calluses, and be sore in places you didn’t even know could get sore. Check your ego, and be prepared to get your butt handed to you at some point. It’s all part of the process.

Underestimating Yourself

People often seem to think that they already have to be strong in order to do pole dancing, but nope! One of the major points of getting involved in pole dancing is to build up strength. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do pushups, or pull-ups, or that you don’t have a six-pack, or that you’re “too big.” Everyone has to start somewhere. For the record, there are plus sized pole dancers, petite pole dancers, deaf pole dancers, and pole dancers who are missing limbs (true story) all making it work! So, no more excuses!

Doing Too Much Too Soon

Pole newbies tend to be really eager to learn, which is good and bad. What’s bad about it is that newbies sometimes try to do moves that they may not have the muscle strength for just yet, like choppers, for example. Choppers are usually the first on-the-pole inversions that pole dancers work toward, but the right way to get into a chopper is to lift your knees with your core, not by kicking into it and haphazardly trying to throw yourself over. Some people may be able to chopper after only a few classes, while it may take others a full year. Pole dancing is not a race. It’s better to have correct form and strength than an injury so, be patient, cross train so that you can build up the appropriate strength for certain moves, and practice. Think about it this way: You have to crawl before you can walk, you have to walk before you can run, and you have to run before you can fly.

Not Getting A Spot

Get a spot anytime you feel unsure of a movement. Your instructor will be happy to assist you.

Using Incorrect Form

It’s important to have the proper amount of strength and know what your points of contact with the pole should be because this is what assists you with executing moves. If you practice with incorrect form, you won’t nail your tricks properly, or you could hurt yourself.

Comparing Yourself To Others

This is something all pole dancers struggle with at every level. Understand that what works for your body works for your body. Everyone progresses at different rates, people have different builds and flexibility that can affect a move so work on your own time, whatever that may be.

Not Checking The Pole Before Using It

How many YouTube and Vine compilations have you seen of pole dancing fails, probably a lot, right? So, yeah, be vigilant and check how secure that pole is every single time you get ready to practice. Give it a good yank!

Not Wearing The Right Clothes

Experienced pole dancers wear less clothes as they get more advanced because the skin is a point of contact, but newbies tend to overdo it. In the beginning, you can get away with wearing a shirt or longer shorts, but stay away from full on pants. You can wear your sweats for the warm up portion, but when class starts, make sure those pants are at least above the knee so that you can hook the pole with your knees without slipping.


6 Common Sense Ways to Patronize an Ethical Nail Salon

Rose Nail Art
Nail Art By Me!


The New York Times recently published an expose about the unethical practices of some nail salon owners in NYC. The short of it is, many nail salon owners don’t treat their workers right (read the article when you get the chance). Said workers are often paid ridiculously below minimum wage  (something like $30 a day on the high end, and tips aren’t much help), and are being taken advantage of because many of them are in the country illegally, or generally in dire straits.

I’ve always been leery of the types of nail spots mentioned in this article (assembly line type places) because something just never felt right. The energy was always off, and the staff wasn’t very nice, but after reading the NYT article, I get what those feelings were about.

I couldn’t find a list of sustainable nail salons, but I do know that there are a select few that I patronize based on how I feel about the environment, the energy, the staff,  and the services provided so, here’s my common sense guide to finding an ethical nail salon:

1. Pay Like You Weigh

Good manicures and pedicures are going to cost you. That doesn’t mean you should blow your last few dollars or money you don’t have getting work done, but if you’re going to treat yourself then go somewhere of quality, and when it comes to salons, the more you pay for services the better your experience and the more money the staff is most likely getting paid. I’ve noticed that the salons I patronize, (email me to find out which ones) are light years more superior to the run-of-the-mill neighborhood spots because they’re more meticulous about cleanliness (they tend to do pedicures in a bowl, which is more sanitary vs. the jet sink thingie), they take appointments only, so you won’t have to worry about sitting around and being herded like cattle, you can specify which nail tech you want, they’re not going to mutilate your cuticles because they are educated about nail and skin health, and they use better products (think essential and nourishing oils vs. watery lotion and dish soap–yes, back in my hood spot days I have seen dish soap being used).

One of the places I frequent is also frequented by Beyonce. That’s related to absolutely nothing, I just wanted to point that out lol. But seriously, you really do get what you pay for. I do my manicures and pedicures at home most of the time, but going to the salon is a treat that I look forward to so I make sure my experience is enjoyable and I feel satisfied about the quality of service.


2. Go Where the Nail Techs Are Actual Artists

Two out of four of the places I frequent (I rotate depending on my mood, what I want done, and where I’m willing to travel) are leaders in nail art, and have been at the forefront of the nail art, calgel (not to be confused with shellac) boom since before it was popular. The nail techs at said places are amazing, and can do anything you can think of (like Dragon Ball Z riding a unicorn into the sunset lol). That is because they are legitimate artists with track records. Many of them don’t just work at the salon, they do editorial work, nail styling, other types of art, and have personal websites where you can track their work. You’ll also notice that the make up of the staff at places like this will most likely be more ethnically diverse than assembly line places and they have actual cleaning ladies cleaning, instead of off duty nail technicians.

Assembly line type spots, on the other hand, have a board with set designs that you can choose from. You can change up the colors but you can only get a design that they have available (usually just some variation of dots and squiggly lines, or a color burst). This is because, as you probably got from the NYT article, those nail techs are trained to provide a specific set of services, nothing more or less.



I cannot stress that enough. I have picked up some tips and tricks in my years of getting my nails professionally done, and one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that acrylic is awful for you. Again, a professional salon where the staff is treated with respect and where everyone cares about your nail health, the staff’s general health, and their reputation as a business won’t even have it on the menu, which lends me to my next point.


4. Staff at an Ethical Salon Won’t Need Face Masks

Going back to ingredients and quality…you know how, at may of the common nail spots, the staff tends to wear surgical masks when providing certain services? That’s because they’re dealing with toxic chemicals and particles. They wear the masks because they’re around that stuff all day, yet many of them still suffer health issues.  Patrons aren’t provided a masks because the logic is probably that they’re not there long enough but, c’mon, yo! Toxic chemicals are toxic chemicals, and no one should be exposed to them–not for one second–not for 12 hours. So, again, pay for a place that uses 3 and 5-free polishes and other non-toxic ingredients.


5. Chat With Your Nail Tech

You should develop a rapport with your nail technician. You don’t have to become besties, but people who provide you with service should be happy and healthy. As a customer, your voice matters most. So, if you don’t like the way the staff is treated, you can help spread the word, which obviously doesn’t look good for the business. There is so much competition in the nail salon world in NYC that a good business knows not to piss the customer off. However, you wouldn’t really know what was going on if you didn’t get in good with your service provider.


6. Go to an Indie Nail Stylist

This may not work in the case of pedicures, but if you’re someone who is all about the nail art or a good manicure period, then you should consider finding an independent nail tech like Naomi Yasuda, Ami V Nails, or the like.


As I mentioned, these tips aren’t based on scientific research, just logic, which is why I didn’t list the places I frequent by name. But again, if you are interested in where I go in NYC, email me and I got you!

Grunty Crush of the Week: Keeley Alvarado on How to be Fierce

Keeley Alvarado Pole

My first introduction to Keeley Alvarado was at the 2014 Dangerous Curves Competition. She competed and won with a sassy, dynamic piece.  I loved her attitude and style, and was happy that she took the crown. The multi-talented Austin, Texas-dweller does photography, works as a customer services representative lead, and teaches pole and heels classes. I caught up with her to chat about her life in pole and defying body size stereotypes.

When did being active start to play a major role in your life, and what benefits have you seen?

I have always loved being active.  In high school I played basketball and swam.  My first year of college I was Texas Crew, but I stopped exercising on a regular basis during my second year in college.  I picked back up again after loosing my job in January 2012, and it all started with pole.  I saw a change in how I saw myself.  I would have never seen myself on stage in a revealing outfit and heels 5 years ago.  Being active again allowed me to find a confidence in myself I never had before. My body can do amazing things and I love it now.  Yes, I want to continue to improve on it, but now I use it to inspire people, and to do amazing things I never thought I could.  I attribute all this change to the form in which I got back into being active, pole changed my life.

How did you get into pole dancing and what was that path like?

I took my first pole class with a friend of mine in September 2011.  She talked me into taking a class with her.  I remember being so shaky and nervous before class.  I was surprised to not feel as awkward as I thought I would, and fell in love with moving my body again.  In January of 2012 I joined a studio and my pole journey began.  I have been hooked ever since, never going longer than a week (unless I was sick) without having that piece of chrome in my hand.

At what point did you transition from pole student to teacher and what has been some of the most rewarding things about your teaching journey?

I knew I wanted to inspire people after my first few competitions.  I received amazing feedback.  The feeling was amazing, and I knew I wanted to share my art with people.  My best friend, main pole instructor, and lead instructor at my studio, Dez Raven, eventually pushed me into getting my certification.  Dez had confidence in me, and it helped me have confidence in my potential teaching/inspiring abilities.  I got XPERT certified last year (February 2014) and stared teaching in March at my home studio, Inner Diva Studios.  I had been wanting to teach for awhile, and help instill a sense of confidence that pole allowed me to feel, to other women. It took a little push, but I couldn’t be happier doing what I do.  Hearing from women that I allowed them to open up, or do things they never thought they were strong enough to do is an amazing feeling.  I feel that the most rewarding moment was being booked for my first private.  People invest a lot of money in you when they book a private.  I feel if someone feels that I’m worth that much of an investment, then they are looking up to me, they see me as something of value.  I never imagined anyone would pay to have an hour alone with me. The fact that they do means people out there respect me and admire my work and that me means the world.

What’s the trick to slaying in heels, especially Pleasers?

Heels, in my opinion, are the most amazing part of poling.  I never thought I would be more comfortable in heels, than bare feet.  Honestly I took to it as a natural.  However, the trick is practice! Anyone can slay in heels if they put enough effort into them and practice.  I used to walk around my apartment for practice.  When  you have heels that hot, you want to wear them all the time! Practice can make anyone a heel savant. Another key to working those heels, get used to using that little dip by your toe, it makes pirouettes so much easier, the shoes are designed for dancing in!  Work that dip and practice. Heels will always be my first true love, just don’t tell my husband!

One concern that many women seem to have about pole dancing and many other forms of fitness in general is that they’re “too big.”  Was this ever an issue for you? How did you get over it?

Before my first pole class I had so many thoughts, my heart was pounding as I walked into class.  I remember Googling what the weight limit was for  the poles were, terrified that I weighed too much.  I thought I was going to be turned away at my first class because I was too big. Of course I wasn’t, and I am forever grateful for that.  I was welcomed with open arms, (thank you Ember!) I was hooked after my first class, and I stuck with it.  I think getting through that first class is how you get over it, you realize you didn’t die, no one was judging you, and most importantly you had a ton of fun.

What are some the most important lessons you’ve learned about yourself throughout your pole journey?

That I’m sexy, even at a bigger size.  That I have the right to feel sexy.  Pole hurts, A LOT, but I can push pass the pain because it is something I love.

What activities do you do to cross train, if anything?

I recently started a bootcamp class that I go to 3 to 4 times at week at 5:30am ugh!  I am also going to be starting private weight/strength training with a trainer.
What’s your diet like and why does it work for you?

My diet is my weak spot.  I do not eat like a should, I drink beer and eat cheese  (yuuummmm queso)!  However, it is something I have been making improvements on.  I have started cooking more at home and eating out less.  I recently did the Whole30, and went 25 (Super Bowl Sunday and all this yumminess had me end 5 days shy of making it a full 30) days with no dairy, no bread, no added sugar, no legumes, no alcohol and minimally process foods.  I felt fantastic while I was on it, it helped me with my relationship with food and I carried over a lot of what I learned.

Please share some advice for plus-size athletes who may be interested in competing, performing and simply exploring a new journey in pole or any fitness activity, but feel apprehensive due to their size and/or body type.

Go for it! I will never forget my first competition, which was also my first solo performance.  I was hooked afterwards.  That feeling when you walk off stage is so amazing.  You may not feel confident or comfortable in your own skin now, but pole will change that!  Also, invest in your pole wear.  I felt like finding clothing that was pole appropriate in plus size was so hard when I first started, and that is when you are feeling most vulnerable and uncomfortable.  I recommend Artista Active Wear for shorts and tops.  They carry up to a 2X, which is something you don’t see with most fitness apparel companies.

What’s next for Miss Dangerous Curves 2014?

I have a lot of pole related things happening this year and I’m so excited.  I am doing photography and modeling in a apparel shoot soon for Artista Active WearFirst. I get to travel to Nashville to watch Miss Pole Dance America.  Being a lover of heels, I am so stoked about the people who will be there performing. I will also be performing with the DC Family at the International Pole Convention in Louisiana in June.  I’m competing in Dallas, Texas in July at the Southwest Aerial Art Championships, and I will be submitting to compete in Miss Texas Pole Star in October.  I’m looking forward to all these awesome performance opportunities, and being able to continue to share my love for pole!

Keep in touch with Keeley:



The Ultimate Eff a Hater Playlist


I love pole dancing but I hate the ugliness that sometimes comes with the territory in terms of bullying and mean girl/boy behavior. This ugliness is unfortunately human but that doesn’t mean we have to take crap from people.

Last week, the pole world was in a frenzy on social media due to a negative comment made by a popular woman in the community, who is, according to many reports, known as a bully. Said woman criticized another pole dancer and a popular move that she invented. Not liking something is a matter of opinion. We all have pole moves that we don’t like aesthetically but how the message is communicated is important, and when you insult people or try to put yourself on a pedestal, that’s when drama arises so, that situation got ugly.

I’m not here to rehash that story but my sister in pole wrote about it over at Polelitical. My purpose today is to bring you cheer, and music is always the remedy. Without further adieu, I present the “Eff a Hater” playlist.

What are some of your favorite sings in this vein?

Weight Lifting and Loss: Finding Literal, Physical Strength Through Death

Liz and Bobby
Liz and Bobby

–By Liz Wayne

I have this love hate relationship with lifting. I love it because I hate running. I hate it because I love not exercising. But alas, my body is not the type that stays looking great without exercising. Losing weight had more than aesthetic value, I have a family history of high blood pressure and diabetes and I knew that if I didn’t control my weight it would become an issue later in life. I had tried numerous diets and I had started and stopped going to the gym multiple times.

In the end, my biggest weightlifting inspiration for lifting was Bobby. He was 6’4’’ and 370lbs when I met him. He valued his strength but he was serious about dieting or training. He was a gentle giant.

Something changed in him. One summer he did a Velocity diet. He lost 50lbs in one summer by eating only one solid meal a day and protein shakes for breakfast and lunch. He was noticeably different ever since then. He became obsessive about training himself, making himself into a stronger person. I was his training partner. And his test dummy. For some reason, Bobby was really excited to be able to workout with me and it was infectious.

We developed a routine. Waking up at 6:30am. Breakfast of veggie omelet, bacon, blueberries, and tea. In the gym by 8:00am. It was a routine that guided my life, gave me extra purpose in waking up so early. I still hated the gym. I never quite “loved” the pain of lifting but I could tell it was doing wonders for my health. And I loved doing this with Bobby.

Bobby was a demanding trainer. I remember one of my first “sessions” with him. On my last set, I took the bar and loaded it with 45lb pounds on each side. I attempted to pick it up but before I could he stopped me and added 25 more pounds to each end. I looked at the now 185lbs with the fear that I might break my back but I pick it up nonetheless. I checked my posture in the mirror, looking for the neutral spine that I need to do this back squat properly—I jokingly get distracted by my own ass in the air, hoping it would lighten Bobby’s mood. He smiled but told me to hurry up. Taking a deep breath, I slowly crank out 8 reps. He says “good” and points at the next exercise. As I predicted, I didn’t walk straight for a week. Turtles and newly-walking babies were faster than me. When napkins or pens fell to the ground I left them there. Sometimes he would look at me and say I was overreacting, that I couldn’t possibly be that sore. I just rolled my eyes, picked my battles. The third day was the worst because of the delayed onset muscle soreness. But I was surprised to find that going into the gym again did help relieve my soreness. Bobby had this way of pushing your performance beyond what you thought was physically possible. He knew it and it made him really smug, but I loved him for it.

Over time, I didn’t need him to watch over me lifting and he also began to train other people or become too engrossed in his own challenging routine. I decided not to let him be my trainer because having my boyfriend be hyper-critical of my diet and exercise 24-hours a day wasn’t wearing well for me. I wanted to like him at the end of our sessions. It worked out nicely though because he taught me everything I needed to know and he was beginning to train those around him. News of his training successes were spreading and people were more willing to try his diet and exercise tactics ben cause they knew it would have results. Soon he was training an army of women as well as a few secret clients who didn’t want people to know they had caught the spirit. Bobby was a firm believer that everyone should do weightlifting and that weightlifting was the cure for all medical and mental evils in the world. His aims weren’t completely altruistic however, Bobby had hopes of making money off training one day and he knew women were more likely to hire a trainer than men were. He was building experience and clientele. Every morning at 8 he had a group of 2-5 women following him, learning how to do squats and deadlifts. Despite his new pursuits, I always knew he was watching me. I would catch him smiling at me, shaking his head at me when I start squatting unnecessarily in his direction.

When bobby died, I tried but I couldn’t force myself back into the gym.
I had always assumed—no prayed—that his memory would make me want to be in the gym and make me feel motivation. It did just the opposite. There were too many memories. So much of my lifting experiences was associated with him. I found myself looking to the side envisioning him smirking at me. I half expected him to walk over all-business to correct my form and walk away without another word which was his thing. Sometimes the memories were so overwhelming that I couldn’t concentrate on the lift. I began to feel negatively about myself because I couldn’t reach my own goals. My whole routine was gone. The gym made me tear up. People kept telling me how happy they were to see me back and it made me feel even more hollow. I was back but I hadn’t accomplished anything. Protein shakes made me gag. The motivation I had for getting up so early was gone. I watched my body lose all the muscle I’d spent the last few years building.

The gym became one of those places that was just too painful to visit and I couldn’t afford to feel that way. In some ways, getting back into a gym routine was really like starting a new life. I had to learn independence in the gym. To make the experience about me and not about “what he would have wanted”, a line I’d heard too many times. To use the knowledge that he gave me but to separate him from. Bobby taught me well. He gave me a great foundation.
I switched gyms. I made my goals small. I would need to build up to the strength I had before and there was no use trying to pretend like nothing happened. I rewarded myself for making it to the gym at all because I needed the positive encouragement. I am very much still on the journey, but I know I’ve come so much farther than I was two years ago.

I met Liz Wayne at a media event and we got into a discussion about women being afraid to lift weights. She then told me this touching story and agreed to write it.