I started in the fitness world in Italy at the age of 6 when I joined my local gymnastics club. I was immediately picked for the competition team and spent the following 5 years competing and performing at various events. As a teenager I then moved on to martial arts (Savate) and jazz dance where I was often involved with the choreography of our performances and competitions as well as designing and making the costumes. After moving to the UK in the early 90’s I rekindled my passion for martial arts by taking up Wing Chun Kung Fu which I had the privilege to learn from a student of Grand Master Ip Chun as well as from the Grand Master himself during a couple of trips to Hong Kong. I then studied BJJ for a couple of years and eventually concentrated on Escrima where I got as far as earning a brown belt before smashing my right arm whilst training for the British Championship. I now focus on pole dancing, body building and hula hooping.
What is your fitness routine (on and off the pole)?
On the pole: dynamic stretching followed by some easy spins building up to full on tricks and combination spins followed by a cool down and developmental stretching. Off the pole: cardio (mostly Tabata intervals or hoop dancing) and resistance training (heavy weights, low reps, split routines) plus developmental stretching 3 x week.
What kind of diet do you follow?
I tend to eat 5 to 6 small meals every day, loosely following the principles of the eatwell plate: plenty of carbs (cereals + fruit and veg) with an adequate amount of proteins and fats although I try to keep the latter on the low side. I really don’t deprive myself of anything and if I plan to eat chocolate or have a glass of wine I build these into the diet. Eating in a way that is “body friendly” pays dividends: my body fat % is now lower than the average for women my age (I’m 42), always have plenty of energy and if I tell someone I am 32 they usually believe me. ;-)
Do you have a dance background?
Yes, I studied jazz dance with bits of ballet thrown in for 6 years from the age of 14 as I found it more exciting than gymnastics at that point. This was in Milan, Italy where I was born and raised.
Do you compete (pole fitness or any other kind of fitness competitions)?
Nope! Over time I developed a complete dislike towards performing in public or competing other than fighting. Earlier this year I was asked if I wanted to compete in figure building competitions and although, apparently, I am now “big enough to do well” I am glad the original plan never came to fruition as the thought of strutting my stuff on a stage makes me cringe LOL
What interested you about pole dancing?
I took up pole dancing as a feminine fitness activity to balance the masculine fight training I was doing at the time. It was one of my Kung Fu sisters that mentioned it to me and it took me years to find a studio nearby. It just so happened that when I eventually did the lady running the classes was the British Champion at the time and I was so absolutely inspired and captivated by her winning performance that I decided I had to learn all that stuff... death defying stunts on a pole wearing 6” stilettos? Yes please!
Do you have a preference? "pole fitness" or "pole dancing"
I guess for me it’s pole fitness as I often get so caught up in the moves that I am learning that I forget to dance! I tend to spend more time dancing when I am on my own though as I love getting lost in the music and just being in those moments.
What do you think about the stripper vs. fitness debate?
Excellent! Free advertising for the sport. Let people debate the issue for as long as they like and let’s thank them for reminding us of the history of pole dance and how it evolved into an art form that nowadays every woman can benefit from without becoming part of the sex industry. No matter what you do, there will always be critics and random individuals that will go to great lengths to try and sh1t on others doing what they are too afraid to try (but probably secretly wish they had the knackers to).
What is your favorite product to help you stick to the pole?
It has to be rock climbing chalk as it always helps in extreme conditions like those 3 days a year when it’s hot and muggy in the UK. It has also helped me make a more appropriate use of the washing line pole in my front garden on occasions.
Do you like to dance in heels or barefoot?
I spent the first year of pole dance lessons almost exclusively in heels but as soon as the tricks became... eerrr... very tricky I swapped the heels for a pair of comfy trainers first and now I almost always practice barefoot.
What did you do before opening your pole studio?
In my previous working life I was company secretary for a local group of firms dealing in import and export of damaged and abandoned goods for secondary markets. I now work in the fitness industry as Personal Trainer as well as Pole Dance Instructor.
What is your favorite thing about dancing on the pole?
I love the sense of freedom that I experience whenever I am dancing on the pole. I also love the challenges it poses all the time and the opportunities for character building that are offered to me every time I practice and get stuck with a move. Do I give up or grow some and find a way around the obstacles?
What is your favorite song to dance to (at this moment)?
The Island by Pendulum.
Do you have any upcoming events you'd like people to know about?
Hoop dance and body sculpting classes coming soon.
What else would you like people to know about you or your studio?
I would just like to encourage any of your readers who are sitting on the fence wondering if they are too old for this to jump off that fence and book a taster session at their nearest studio right now. I started this when I was 40 and recovering from a fracture to my dominant arm. In less than 2 years I reached the stage where I can confidently perform a lot of advanced moves and so is my star student, a mother of 5 who started at the age of 41. You will be surprised at what can be achieved once you are “over the hill” ;-)