Friday, 16 May 2014

Pole Fitness: For Body, Mind and Sexy Soul



There I was, my 50-year-old self, with two 20-something gals, in a cosy studio, curtains drawn to the outside world, some great music playing, a wall of mirrors and about half a dozen shiny vertical metal poles.

This is harder than it looks (squeeeeeze those thighs!)
but oh so much fun!
It was my first pole fitness class. I was pumped! OK and a little nervous.

Lori Graystone is the owner/operator of Rock N Pole, located in Barrie, Ontario. Although I had heard about Lori’s business in the past, only recently had I summoned up my courage to give it a try, after attending the studio’s five-year anniversary open house celebration/fund raising event for National Down Syndrome Day.

Lori was kind and patient as she led us through some basic moves in the “Pole Intro” class. First, we held the pole with one hand and simply did a “sexy walk” around it, on our tiptoes. I felt a little “out of my sexy element” at first, especially in front of a huge mirror, but it didn’t take long before I felt comfortable. There is no judgement at this studio. Everyone is there to learn a new skill and let’s face it, embrace our inner Venus a little bit at the same time. (Get a good workout and feel sexy about doing it – why not?)


"Fireman's Spin" at Rock N Pole studio

What I liked about this Pole Intro class was the pace. It was easy to manage and Lori took the time to ensure we understood every move. (I am not the greatest at mimicking any kind of move that requires flow. It takes me a few tries before I don’t look like a confused robot.) In the hour-long class, we used the pole for climbing, gripping, balancing, stretching and even massaging our shoulders and back muscles.

Who knew pole fitness could be a viable cross training option for a runner? My typically stiff hip flexors loved the sexy hip rotations that were part of the workout. My inner thighs benefited from the basic “spin,” done by gripping the pole with the crook of your bent knee as well as your inner thigh. The “Fireman’s Spin” required me to “let loose,” something I really need to work on in general. My cautious nature often causes me to “put the brakes on” in all kinds of athletic situations where falling could be the outcome. But as Lori gently reminded us, “You’re not going to fall unless you let go of the pole, and if you do, you’re only one foot off the ground.” (Well, beginners are one foot off the ground. The pros are way, way up there near the ceiling, upside down, doing the splits, with confidence. I witnessed their feats at the open house fundraiser. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.)
"Amping Up" with weights

Rock N Pole’s clientele has been growing steadily over the years as more women come to realize both its physical and esteem-boosting benefits.
“It’s addicting,” says Rachelle, a regular student who credits the pole classes and the friendly atmosphere of the studio for helping her break free of her extreme shyness and social anxiety. “It not only gives me knowledge, skill and strength, but the confidence in myself that I never really had,” she says.
Another student, Lori, admits she hadn’t done much by way of structured exercise except for the typical “mom” workout of taking care of her children. “Just one class made me feel sexy and confident,” she says. Lori made it her goal to reach the top of the pole. Seven classes later, she did it, became stronger and more flexible along the way, and has set new goals.
“I haven’t been poling for very long,” says Mandy, “but I am definitely feeling an improvement in my energy level and confidence. No matter what your fitness level, pole is a great way to get in shape, and the best part is that it allows you to get in touch with your sexy side.”

Lori in full-sexy mode. Shop shoes and stockings at rocknpole.ca!
(As in, Happy Father's Day…Birthday etc. Just a thought if you're stuck for a gift…)

I have since attended one of Rock N Pole’s “Loosen Up” classes, which entails a full hour of heavenly stretching, to softer music and with a slightly warmer room temperature. For my own upper back and shoulder issues, a self-massaging technique, developed by Lori using the pole, works wonders at loosening up my knotted muscles.

I hope to add pole fitness to my weekly workout routine. I’d also like to try to convince my husband we need a pole at home. Perhaps if I purchase a pair of sexy stilettos to go with it, he might approve… (Workout gear and sexy shoes also available for sale through Rock N Pole. Again, why not? You only live sexy once.)

Interview with Lori Graystone of Rock N Pole

What made you decide to give pole fitness a try?

Lori Graystone
Lori: I used to [exotic] dance over 10 years ago, when circumstances left me on my own with three small kids. I barely did anything on the pole, as there wasn’t a place or time to actually practise. So once I saw it was available for fitness, I had to try it, and became obsessed with it.

When/where did you take your very first pole fitness class?

Lori: It was at a studio an acquaintance of mine owned called Brass Vixens, on Queen Street in Toronto (formerly called Aradia), in 2008.

When did you open your own business and where?

Lori: I started my business in February 2009. It was a small in-home studio, in which I did one-on-one training, and I also did home parties for bachelorettes, birthdays etcetera. I have created the Rock N Pole brand from scratch, and although there are certain generic pole moves, I have also used creativity when designing my classes and content.

When did you move to your current location?

Lori: My official grand opening for my new location, 149 Welham Road, Barrie, was Nov 30, 2013. I now have seven, 16-ft poles and run a variety of classes Monday through Thursday.

How many instructors are there and what are their qualifications?

Lori: There are three instructors at Rock N Pole. The "dream team" includes Myself, Tiffany (Tiffinator) and Libby (Libifire). There are always specialty workshops that we participate in on an ongoing basis and also a program of certification provided by the CPFA - Canadian Pole Fitness Association. It is great as we all specialize and have our own way of teaching. You can get a great pole career underway taking classes with all three of us.

Who takes classes at your studio?

Lori: The age group runs from 15 to 60 and includes all walks of life, women who just want to challenge themselves, try something new and of course, have fun.

What can someone expect from her first class?

Lori: You will have a lot of fun, laugh a bit, work hard and learn some basic pole moves, in which you will probably be utilizing muscles that you have never worked before. Building upper body strength seems to be a number-one request of our clients, and we definitely fulfil.

What organizations are you affiliated with and what does it mean to be affiliated with them?

Lori: My studio is part of the CPFA, which stands for the Canadian Pole Fitness Association, and we do meet certain criteria to maintain our status, for example, a low teacher-to-student ratio.

You mentioned that you are also a judge for competitions. How many levels of competition are there?

Lori: The competitions are taken very seriously and judged in three categories per performance: Artistry, Technique, and Presentation.There are different divisions that competitors fall into, Amateur, Doubles, Semi Pro, Pro, and Masters. There are also several "Pole Showcases" each year which allow for more artistic and free style poling.

Has it been challenging trying to explain to people that pole fitness does not mean stripping?

Lori: Yes, it has been very difficult to separate the "stripper" stigma with the benefits of pole fitness. I always tell people, “It is fitness with a touch of sexy and fun.” It does empower women in a way that no treadmill can ever do.

If you had to emphasize one thing to readers about pole fitness, what would it be?

Lori: To step outside the box. Try something new and to realize what an amazing workout it is, not just for muscles but for the inner sexy soul as well. "Rock N Pole: empowering women one spin at a time"

Rock N Pole is located at 149 Welham Road in Barrie, Ontario. They offer four different levels of classes and students work at their own pace: Pole Intro (basic); Hello Pole (basic/intermediate); Zepplin (intermediate) and AC/DC (advanced), as well as eight different specialty classes for all levels, aimed at improving specific aspects of pole fitness like strength (“Amp Up”), flexibility (“Sitz & Splitz”) and spins (“Spun Out”). Students can purchase punch cards (the more sessions purchased, the less cost per class) or a monthly membership. Workshops, including belly dancing, working with pole stars and yoga partners, are also offered once per month. Home pole parties (girls' night in, anyone?) for any occasion are another featured service. For more information or to book classes visit www.rocknpole.ca











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