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 Ultimate Eff a Hater Playlist

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?

Grunty Crush of the Week: Phoenix Kazree Wins Pole Art Italy

Phoenix Kazree

Phoenix Kazree, the woman who is responsible for creating the Titanic pole move, is an Uh-mazing pole dancer who just won first place at Pole Art Italy over the weekend. She kilt it. Not killed, but KILT that ish man!!! Watch her in action below:

I pray to the pole gawds that one day I will be as fluid and amazing as Phoenix Kazree.

First, I have to get that Titanic, though. I’ve tried and it wasn’t pretty. Anyway, congratulations Phoenix!

Grunty Crush of the Week: Ilov is a Sexy Beast

S Factor

Ilov (pronounced “I love,” and yes, that is her real name)  is a siren. She oozes and owns her sensuality, something I discovered the minute she started speaking. We met a couple of months ago at a Nomadness Travel Tribe meet up where she lead us wanderlusting ladies in a two hour session in Intro to Pole at S Factor. This was the most unique pole experience I had ever had because the focus wasn’t so much on doing spins and working toward tricks, it was about being present, aware of yourself and allowing the music to guide you as you moved with purpose on the floor, on the wall, on the pole–it was about taking up space and spreading your energy. I am someone who over-thinks and gets really self  aware when it comes to dancing, and I have a hard time freestyling because of that. However, I left Ilov’s class feeling inspired to take more free dance type classes. It also helped that her music was amazing. Keep reading to find out how she went from a corporate job to the full time world of teaching movement.

What was your first introduction to pole dancing and how did you fall in love with it?
My introduction to pole dancing happened in 2007 when I took an intro class at Shelia Kelly’s S Factor New York and I was in love by the time the class was over. The experience of being in my body, the fun of the pole and the awesome dance demonstration by the teachers of where it all could lead had me hooked from the very beginning.

Explain how you shifted from the corporate world to teaching pole. 
Initially I was doing both. I worked full time in the financial industry and taught one class a week. Then the company I worked for went under and I decided I’d had enough of the corporate world and picked up more classes. It was the best decision I ever made and I’ve never been happier in my work life.

How has pole dancing enhanced and/or changed your life?
The more obvious changes are physical. My body is more toned, more flexible and I’ve never been stronger. I also find it very difficult to ride the subway without succumbing to the urge to spin around on the poles instead of just holding on to them for support.

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What makes S Factor different from other pole studios?
The biggest difference is that S Factor classes are without mirrors and the lighting is low. Slow movement is encouraged to get you out of your head and in to your body without judgement. The focus is placed on the emotional journey of your movement as well as learning pole tricks.

 

You mentioned that you weren’t flexible at all when you started pole dancing so how did you manage to improve?
My flexibility began to improve from just taking class once a week. I paid attention to my form and breathing into my stretch more than just trying to get through the challenging moves.

 

What else, if anything, do you do for conditioning and keeping yourself active?
I’m developing a yoga practice and just recently started going to the gym for cardio. While I know this will all benefit my movement, the main reason I started was to be more attentive to what my body needs in this stage of my life.

 

It’s obvious that you are not only a music collector, but you seem very intentional in putting together your playlist in order to invoke certain moods so, how do you find and curate your music for classes?
It feels like I get music from everywhere… movies, tv shows, students, cars blasting music on the street. Shazam is my best friend and there are a ton of forums for pole dancers to share music that works. I listen to music with my body more than with just my ears. If there’s something in the song that makes me want to move sensually then I know it’s a winner for class. When I’m making a playlist I think of it as a seduction. First I want to make you feel relaxed and comforted, then I want you to get lost in the sultriness of it all until you feel compelled to surrender to the seduction.

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What are three of your favorite songs to freestyle to at the moment?
Right now I’m loving “Creeper” by The Acid; “OG Bobby Johnson” by Que–I just can’t get this song outta my system–and “Drive (Part 1)” by Ben Khan.

 

What’s your diet like and why does it work for you?
I don’t necessarily have a specific “diet” but I make healthy choices when I can. I’ll use raw honey instead of white sugar, drink water instead of soda, have a salad with my steak instead of fries. It all depends on my mood. I’m happier when I eat what I want so that’s what I do (in moderation). Sometimes chocolate cake is preferable to fruit.

 

What else are you working on (shows coming up, workshops, etc)?
Right now I’m working on the next installment to my lap dance workshop series. Lap dancing is my favorite element in sensual movement so I’m always playing with how to take it to the next level for myself and my students. Past installments were “Finding Your Comfort Zone” and “Master Moves”. The next one will involved chair to chair communication with specific intention and will launch in late January in time for Valentine’s Day.

 

What’s your latest pole victory whether it’s new trick or even landing a show? 
I’m getting better acquainted with spinning pole. It’s been something I’ve always wanted to explore and now I’m learning to translate my static tricks and having a dizzy blast.

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What’s your intention for the rest of the year?
I’m spending the rest of the year reflecting on all the blessings in my life and expressing my gratitude to those who’ve been instrumental in me receiving those blessings.

Want to take class with Ilov? Get in touch!

grate.ilov@gmail.com
FB: facebook.com/ilovgrate
Twitter: twitter.com/ilovgrate
ilovgrate.wordpress.com

Grunty Crush of the Week: Danielle Christine Gets Poleitical With Aerial Arts

Poleitical Clothing
Credit: Alloy Images, From PPC 2012

The last time I wore my “Keep Calm and Pole Dance” shorts from Poleitical Clothing, a woman in my class told me that my “ass looked nice in those shorts.” That is the ultimate compliment for any pole dancer and it almost always happens when I rock my Poleitical Clothing gear. I don’t even know how I discovered the Los Angeles-brand but I think it had to do with me getting sucked in to their Instagram page via one of many pole related hashtags, and the rest is history.

At some point in my pole journey, I joined the Pole Dancing Bloggers Association and came across Danielle Christine. I remembered her name from handwritten thank you notes that I received with  my Poleitical Clothing purchases and we’ve been e-friends ever since. We haven’t met in person but I like her energy so I reached out to chat about her career as co-owner/co-founder of Poleitical Clothing, owner and blogger at Poleitical Diaries, blogger at Bad Kitty Exotic Wear, and her passion for pole and lyra.

Danielle and Marlo Fiskin wearing Poleitical Clothing. Photo Courtesy Danielle.
Danielle and Marlo Fiskin wearing Poleitical Clothing. Photo Courtesy Danielle.

How did you get into pole dancing and what is it about pole that has sparked your passion for the sport?

I got into pole around 2006, when a friend of mine invited me to take a class that her friend Tara was starting – it was a combination of life coaching and erotic movement. The focus was really on coaching women through blocks they had in the areas of their confidence, sensuality, sense of self, etc. I found the classes to be transformative. My initial reaction, before signing up, was one of distaste and judgment, but after a while, it dawned on me that my reaction was so strong that it was weird. I took a step back and asked myself why, and it became clear that I was scared of the class. So, I immediately signed up for it. While the classes had more floor work and coaching than crazy pole tricks (we did some spins, that’s it), they remain one of the most influential and powerful experiences of my life, and I am happy to say that it brought some amazing people into my world (one of which is now my editor at Bad Kitty!). After Tara’s classes ended (she moved away), I was out of the pole world for a bit. This was after S Factor had begun, but before the advent of pole as fitness, so there were not a lot of options available. After a couple of years of not really doing much with it, I noticed that I was feeling disconnected again, and I started vaguely looking for classes. I happened to share a friend in common with a pre-USPDF Natasha Wang, and on a group outing, we got to talking about pole. She suggested I check out The Pole Garage in Santa Monica, CA. I started classes there almost 4 years ago, and have been poling pretty consistently since that time.

As far as my passion for pole goes, I think the thing I love about it is that it is always different, and there is always more to explore. There is something for everyone in it, and you can consistently challenge yourself with some new aspect of it, so it’s never boring. I love the experience of working on something that seems impossible one week, and seeing the change a few weeks later. I’ve never experienced anything with such a rapid return on investment.

I started lyra about two years ago, when I was in a pole rut. I had plateaued and was really frustrated, so lyra was a welcome break! I took to it really quickly, and have been in love with it since day one. I started at Evolve Dance Studio, and now train at Aeriform Arts.

Lyra
Credit: George Grigorian

Describe your polerina style.

I’m really into freestyle movement right now, so I have loved exploring those classes, although my schedule doesn’t always allow for me to go to them. It’s invigorating, challenging, and freeing. I did not grow up a dancer or a gymnast, so I don’t have that sort of natural athleticism or movement, and it’s been a bit of a struggle for me to find what is mine to do. Freestyle movement is closer to what I love, which is storytelling. I was an actor for many years, and I will always be an actor at heart, so I am working to develop that craft in dance. Freestyle helps with that, as it opens up areas I hadn’t thought to explore. I guess, though, if you were to watch me free dance, I’d think you’d see me as a floorwork girl. I don’t get on the pole that much, as pole combos aren’t natural to me. I don’t flow from trick to trick, I have to work at it, but I can roll around on the floor like a boss.

Speaking of pole, tell me about your popular line of apparel.

Poleitical Clothing is a partnership with my friend, Courtney Rheuban. We were both students at The Pole Garage, and we met through a Facebook group for the studio. We had been joking about how we wanted t shirts that said, “Keep Calm and Pole Dance” on them, and one coffee date later, we were starting a company! We began in mid-2012, and debuted the line at California Pole Dance Championship that same year. I credit Courtney with a lot of the drive behind the initial creation of the business – she had experience in fashion and in starting a business, and I was just along for the ride and excited to be there. As we’ve developed, we’ve grown into our roles: Courtney handles a lot of our “business” end, with financials, wholesale ordering, etc, and I’m more of the customer contact, social media, and design side. We collaborate on each of our designs, going back and forth on possible ideas, possible products, and my background in art and design (college) comes in handy with sketching out our ideas. Our personal styles are very different – Courtney works in fashion and has great, fun, stylish taste, and I am way more casual/all over the place. Mostly, I am a jeans and white t shirt girl. I think our goal is to select wear that we find cute, but also comfortable, and we’re very careful to look for things that will look good on most figures. One of our long term goals is to expand into larger offerings, particularly with plus sizes and men, and I personally would love to begin making our own clothing, as opposed to printing our designs on sourced items. I just need to learn how to sew, so I can make some prototypes.

 

Who is responsible for the designs, and what type of preparation went into launching your

company?

Courtney and I will send each other ideas pretty consistently, and we have a backlog of ideas that we’ve saved up. We try to debut something new a couple of times per year, whether it be a new style of clothing, or a new art design. Once we settle on a new concept, I usually sketch out the artwork and send it to Courtney for approval, and if we need a designer to create a digital copy, we reach out to a friend of mine who helps on that end. While I went to school for art and design, it was right around the time that the shift to digital art was happening, and I was very much old school – I loved to get my hands dirty – so I never really got the hang of sketching in a computer program. Luckily, my friend who assists us is awesome at it and translates my real-life sketches and notes into beautiful digital files!

When we initially launched, we were beyond excited about it, and things fell into place really quickly. Very early on, we were approached by Leen Isabel from Pole Dancing Adventures about doing a giveaway on her blog, and her support was instrumental in getting the word out about our brand. She was our Pole Fairy Godmother! Since then, we’ve worked hard to build our online network, and we continue to do things like participate as vendors at local LA events, donate our shorts to events for the pole bunnies, and run fun giveaways, particularly through Instagram.

Credit: Roselle Photography
Credit: Roselle Photography

What are three of the most important lessons you’ve learned about yourself as a small business owner in the fitness apparel world?

1) Don’t get too upset when someone tries to do a riff on our Keep Calm artwork. It happens. I don’t like it, and I totally give a side eye to the other artwork, but it happens.

 

2) I love social media and really enjoy interacting with our fans through all of the different platforms. I’ve developed some solid skills in that arena, and I’m looking forward to learning even more!

 

3) It’s easy to have a passion project, but much more difficult to turn it into a money making enterprise.

 

Do you have any tips for small business owners in this lane? 

 

Try to be original. Try to cater to more than just one subset in the industry – specialty items/offerings are great, but if you only cater to the super advanced (for example), you cut yourself off from a whole revenue stream, and that’s just silly to me. Be choosy about your partnerships– if somebody has a bad rep, know that your association with them may cost you business.

 

If you’re starting a studio, vet your teachers and ask for feedback from students – and really consider the feedback. Don’t assume you know everything, or that your opinion/vision is the best. If you’re starting a product line, take care in what you offer, and take pride in it.

 

Going back to pole, what was your latest most exciting pole dancing victory?

I just performed at the NorCal Pole Presentational, which was a victory for me! I hadn’t performed in a public setting in over 2 years, and I would not consider myself a great choreographer, but I was proud that I put together a piece with a story and stuck with it, despite some minor hiccups. While training for the piece, I finally got my aerial invert to not be so wretched, and that’s a big deal for me! I also was proud that I figured out my Reiko Step Up to Cupid on spin pole with a week left before the performance (I had to throw out something that wasn’t working and needed a replacement). I’d really like more opportunities to perform, but I feel like the only real offerings in LA are to compete, which I’m ambivalent about. I am competing at PSO’s Pacific Aerial in September, but it’s on Lyra, not pole, and I signed up mostly to get the chance to perform.

 

How do you balance life as a business woman , as an everyday woman friends, and as an aerial artist?

I don’t really know, to be honest. I kind of just do what is next on the schedule and try to be kinder to myself if things don’t work out as planned. I do try to make a point to be at home with my boyfriend, if I know I’ve been super distracted with work, or busy with classes, and I try to find time just for me if I am stressed – whether it be going to a class, or just reading a book.

 

What do you wish for yourself for the rest of the year?

I am working to get myself into a new day job, so that’d be up front! I’m hopeful that my routine for the lyra competition will be smooth and fun, and I want to launch some new stuff for Poleitical Clothing. I have also really loved contributing to the Bad Kitty blog, and I’m excited about the new pieces I have in the pipeline! My hope is that I can continue to bring interesting material to the table and to grow as a writer, both for their platform and my own. I’m also REALLY excited to be attending Aerial Amy’s pole retreat in October – it’ll be my first time teaching anyone but the occasional friend, and I am excited about the workshop that I have planned for everyone. My wish for the end of the year is that the things I’ve been working toward all pan out in great ways! I’d also love to find new performance opportunities, or to even develop them myself. I’m really interested in exploring the storytelling side of pole – beyond competition and beyond “here’s a sexy night of pole” – and I hope to find a way to develop that creative side of things, for myself and for others.

 

I did this interview back in September so feel free to catch up with Danielle in real time at these places:


www.poleiticalclothing.com
 – Main clothing site.
poleitical.com – Poleitical diaries blog
instagram – @poleiticalclothing for biz, @reelsmartcookie for personal.

Dalijah Franklin of Black Girls Pole Creates an Epic Movement [Video]

Photo By David Hawes
Photo By David Hawes

I mentioned a couple of months ago that there was a movement bubbling called “Black Girls Pole,” and that it was spearheaded by one of my pole crushes, Dalijah Franklin. She is super dope. Do yourself a favor and look her up on YouTube. The idea behind Black Girls Pole is to connect Black women who love to pole dance and the people who them and support the idea, to come together, network, and learn from each other in the name of fitness and badassery. But let’s keep it funky, pole dancing isn’t just any kind of fitness, it’s a game changer. For many, self included, pole dancing can change lives but you wouldn’t understand unless you do it (more on that later).

Dalijah celebrated the launch of #BlackGirlsPole back in June at Body and Pole, with a series of workshops that culminated in some dope performances from fierce ladies like, Nicole “the Pole” Williams, Crystal Belcher, Meritza Chang Heyward, Delijah (of course), Ajia Maximillian, Roz “the Diva,” Sasja Lee, Caprice Burrell, and more. I’m still high from the experience. Not only did I meet some cool women with like interests, but I was also motivated to work on the craft again, and I can’t wait to see what else Dalijah has in store. In the mean time, check out what Dalijah told me about her inspiration for starting the movement, some recap footage of that epic night and general inspiration about pole dancing.

Grunty Crush of the Week: Ajia Maximillian the Fitness Savant

Ajia

I met Ajia Maximillian back in 2011. She was one of my first pole dancing instructors at Shockra Studio. I’d describe her personality as sunshine personified. She’s a patient, kind and helpful instructor as well as a kick ass dancer, IFBB Bikini Pro, and all around fitness guru. I caught up with her to chat about how fitness has become a part of her life, what it is to be an IFBB competitor and her forthcoming event, Poling For Pets.

I know that you have an athletic background, so explain how being physically active played a role in your life growing up. 

Growing up, physical activity was a staple in my life. To the point that I didn’t even think about it as physical activity, it was just how I lived. As a child I was on a swim team, was a competition cheerleader, was on a basketball team and was on a dance team; as a teenager I focused my energy on dance such as West African, Samba, Hip Hop, and Jazz; and now as an adult I believe dance is really what opened doors for me in the fitness industry. Because of my love for and desire to dance, I became a dance instructor who eventually started trying other genres of exercise and realized that I loved exercising with others and helping others find their happy place through physical activity. Soon I found myself teaching bootcamps, stretch and tone classes, and different high intensity interval training courses. I love the adrenaline rush that working out gives me, the camaraderie with others, and the feeling of accomplishment once done.

How did you get into pole dancing and did it come easy for you given your background?

I got into pole dancing completely by accident. I was a nightclub dancer/gogo girl at various NYC lounges and nightclubs such as Avalon, Crobar, Discoteque/Spy, Umbrella, Monkey Room, etcetera and some of these clubs had poles. I have always loved dancing in cages and figured a pole was no different, so I just incorporated it into my routines. It came easily and flowed naturally until I took my first pole class and thought, “Whoa!, that is so much more than what I was doing on the pole!” I had not realized there was a whole pole culture growing so rapidly outside of the nightclub industry and the tricks I was seeing on youtube were mindblowing…I was so out of the loop!

What are some of the things you love about pole dancing? 

I love that athleticism can be displayed with sexiness while dancing. I love teasing my audience and feeling their desire while I am on stage and I love how one little apparatus can help your body to do so much, it’s freeing.

Ajia Max

Describe your pole dance style.

I would describe my style has gritty, sexy, and strong.

Speaking of sexy and strong, what is an IFBB Pro and what are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned about yourself on your journey to becoming one?

IFBB stands for International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness and it is a competitive bodybuilding organization founded in 1946 by brothers Ben and Joe Weider and according to many, is the highest level of competitive bodybuilding in the world. Earning my procard in August of 2013 was an amazingly fun, and rewarding journey and taught me that consistency is key. I learned that if I am consistent with my diet, my body will reward me, I learned what foods make me tired, which foods give me energy… and most importantly, I learned how to eat properly because I had never before been taught nor did research on proper nutrition for myself. On this journey I was fortunate enough to have a sponsor who enabled me to focus on competing and my coaches on my team, Team Bombshell, who gave me proper guidance with a nutritional plan and a workout plan.

What’s your diet like and why does it work for you? 

I eat 6-7 times a day, approximately every 3 hours, and my diet works for me because it is catered towards my body type and activity level. My meals are pretty much equally portioned with an emphasis on healthy carbs like quinoa, steel cut oats, various fruits, and spinach; fats like almond milk and various nuts; and proteins like grilled chicken breast, ground turkey, and lean fish. If I could eat grilled octopus and tuna sashimi all day, I would. I am pretty simple, yet specific when it comes to food. I am not big on gravy nor dressings. I usually leave my salads naked or with a touch of lemon, salt and pepper if anything at all. I cannot stand mayonnaise, mashed potatoes, or cream, unless it is really unhealthy Reddi-wip cream, but I will eat an entire chocolate mousse cake once in a while.

What are some of your current fitness goals in terms of nailing a new pole trick, entering another competition etc? 

Some of my current fitness goals are to compete in another IFBB Pro competition before the end of the year, I am still working on when it is realistic for me to compete; get a muscle-up; and make my pole routines more seamless and fluid; never stop improving.

What advice do you have for women who want to start a fitness journey but may be apprehensive? 

Just do it and do not be afraid to ask for help. A good place to start is with a mentor and or a trainer and that mentor and or trainer does not have to start you in the gym, sometimes a good dance class is all you need to get your booty in gear. Also, never underestimate the power of your diet. Good nutrition is key to fitness, health, and looking and feeling good. Meeting with a registered dietician can be beneficial in your journey and many health plans cover these visits now. If seeing a RD is unrealistic, the internet is your friend. While there are many false claims out there, there are a ton of resources online now allowing us to sort through the trash and make educated choices for ourselves. Do not be afraid to experiment, especially with workouts, sometimes it is just a matter of finding what you enjoy and sticking with it. Treadmill not for you? Maybe you enjoy outdoor running instead or even yoga, or walking, or tai chi, or boxing or hip hop dancing–try everything until you find your niche.

Tell us about Poling For Pets. 

After the success of our event last year, we decided to bring Poling for Pets back.

Poling for Pets is an annual charity benefit that features variety acts with an emphasis on pole dance in in order to raise mainstream awareness on the talent, strength and diversity present in the expanding, and at times controversial, performance craft of pole dancing. In addition to our passion for pole, Carolyn Chiu and myself, we are the producers, share a love for animals and use Poling for Pets as a liaison between avant-garde performances and aiding animals in need by donating a percentage of ticket sales, 100% of raffle proceeds, and 100% of donations from the Poling for Pets event to a local animal shelter. Our charity, for a second year in a row, will be Animal Haven Shelter, which is a 501 (c) 3 organization whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and place abandoned cats and dogs into permanent & safe, loving homes.

Poling For Pets
Ajia and Carolyn, founders of Poling for Pets.

This year’s event will be held Thursday, July 10, 2014 from 7-9:30pm at The Cutting Room. The show begins promptly at 8pm and tickets are on sale now at www.thecuttingroomnyc.com. Get them before they sell out. There will be a live vocalist, pole dance performances, burlesque performances, raffle prizes, and pets available for adoption.

Poling For Pets

How can people take your classes and generally keep in touch with you? 

Feel free to follow my class schedule at AjiaMax.com, follow me via Instagram @ajiamax, and Twitter @ajiamax. I can also be emailed directly via Ajia@AjiaMax.com.

 

Fun Facts: 

Ajia loves animals but she really loves pitbulls.

She is the owner of AM Fitness Groove, where she blogs about her fitness lifestyle.

Grunty Playlist: The Fluidity Project – June 20

Playlist

I mentioned the other day, that my focus in pole dancing lately has been about fluidity. Basically, I’ve been into slower songs that encourage liquid motion. Here are a few songs in align with that mission that I’ve been obsessed with lately. Feel free to add these to your playlist for pole, cool down music or just because you like it.

P.S. There is an audio watermark that plays briefly before the song.

The Evolution of How I Pole Dance

StarrPole

I’m in a weird space when it comes to pole dancing. I’ve lost most of my strength because I stopped working out as much as I did last year and have regressed in the progress that I had started to make when I was consistent. Lately, I’ve been going to class when I go. Last year I was going at least twice a week. I recently  joined a gym that offers pole dancing and plan to supplement that education with some of the better studios that focus strictly on pole but the issue now is scheduling. I started a new job so being consistent is going to be hard but I’m passionate about pole again, so that’s the first step. I lost that enthusiasm for a minute but it’s back so I’m going to make redeveloping a consistent practice a priority (I have a pole at home that I use sometimes but classes are better).

At the moment I am a level two, which is kind of not good because last year I was more a basic three. When it comes to pole dancing you advance when your body is ready but I’m naturally strong as long as I condition myself and eat properly, so advancing shouldn’t take me too long (although, my core is slow to respond to strength training) but I’ve been poling since 2011. It has been off and on but again, I feel like I should be more developed in my practice than I am. I get so discouraged when I see women who started at around the same time that I did doing much better than me. I’m working on not comparing myself but it’s hard.

I still struggle with leg hangs, something that has never been my forte, and I lack fluidity. The latter has become extremely important to me. When I first started pole dancing it was all about nailing tricks. I just wanted to be strong and show off what I could do but what happened is, I started being able to do individual tricks but without real dance moves. I lack vocabulary and it looks silly when you’re in a class where they tell you to freestyle but all you can do is individual moves so I want to fix that. These days I’m about learning more combos and transitions and not thinking too hard about my freestyles and choreography so that even if I’m in a space where I can’t or don’t feel like doing death-defying tricks (it’s not like I know that many) I can still create a dazzling flow. The more I watch pole dancers lately, the more I look for fluidity. There are some, like Caitlin Goddard for example, who just breathe fluid motion.

So being a smooth operator, but in my own way, is my current focus, because I plan to do more pole performances (whenever those opportunities arise, hopefully they do but that’s another story) and flowing just feels good.