Career, Q+A — April 1, 2013 2:43 pm

Career Q+A: Pole Dancer

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An exercise instructor shares how pole dancing can do more than just strengthen your core.

Combine a sultry pole studio with a sweaty, glut-blasting fitness routine, and you’ve got one of the hottest ways to slim down and tighten up. Ohio’s PoleKittens Fitness is the oldest pole studio in the country and continues to offer classes on pole dancing, lap dancing and striptease. Working mother and three-year pole dance instructor, Billie Jo Louden, 31, gives us the scoop on teaching an eclectic group of women curvy pole swings and sassy flips and dips.

Billie Jo Louden, 31, shows off her moves at PoleKittens Fitnesss in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Liz Odom.

Q: Why did you start pole dancing?

A: I just had my third kid and I had went to the gym and I couldn’t really lose the belly fat. I just wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel like my body was being transformed back into where it was. So I went online and I googled different ab exercises, and there was a news clip that came on. It’s actually on the website now. I was like, I should try that. I couldn’t get any of my friends to do it or anything, so I had to come by myself.

Really, I just wanted to lose some weight. I went from a size 12 to a six doing this and [going] to the gym. It’s addicting! Once you get your first spin, then you’re like, ‘Oh, I want to try this.’ You’re always wanting to try new things. Somebody will do something and you’re like, ‘Oh, show me how to do that.’

I like it here because you get to work at your own pace. You’re only as good as the move that you’re working on. Nobody is like, ‘Oh, you should be here, doing this.’ It doesn’t matter. They’re always encouraging.

Q: Can you tell me about your clients and students?

A: Everybody — anybody — of all ages and all sizes can do this. Any size big, small, in the middle, athletic you don’t have to be athletic. You don’t have to have worked out a day in your life. You can still do it. I remember when I did my pole orientation. I had a lady who was in class with me — she did it for her 50th birthday.

Q: How does your husband feel about you working here?

A: I think at first he was kind of like, I don’t know about this, but you know, it’s only girls in here. And then I built up more confidence, kind of carried myself different, my body was changing, and then he was like, ‘Ohhh!’ And then of course he got a little treatment at the house [laughs].

I even have a pole at the house. I do it at the house, too, when I can, when the kids are sleeping. My nephew lives in my basement right now. He’s getting ready to graduate from high school, so I don’t get to play as much as I want to — it’s only when he’s at work or gone [laughs]. He loves it. [He] encourages me with everything. Of course he watches our kids when I’m here teaching.

Q: Do your kids know what you do?

Shoes worn during classes. Photo by Liz Odom.

A: Yes! And actually, they will swing around the pole downstairs. Obviously I won’t do certain moves, or erotic moves around them or anything. My daughter — she can almost go upside-down. It’s just because kids, they don’t think of the fear factor of falling, whereas adults, they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to hit my head.’ They can climb the pole and do stuff. That’s only because they want to play on it. I think pole exercise is good for anybody, but I certainly don’t encourage them to climb on a pole.

Q: Have you ever fallen?

A: I did fall once. It happened on that pole right there. Luckily, I was close to the ground. It wasn’t a big thing, but I haven’t really bit it big time or anything like that.

Q: Is this your only job?

A: I’m a legal secretary. It’s full time, and until this year, my boss did not know that I did this. It ended up coming out with a client telling him. [The client] was asking about pole classes, and at the time I was getting ready to start pole classes. He was like, ‘Oh really? You do that?’ He was surprised, but he didn’t give me any grief about it. Because once I leave there at 5, you know, I’m done there. [PoleKittens Fitness] is what I like to do. This is what makes me feel sexy.

Q: So, basically you work two jobs?

A: It takes me away from my family, so yeah, it is a job. I get paid for it, but it’s fun! I like to come here [laughs]. I don’t always like going to my regular job. I just do it for extra money. I like to do it. I like to see girls get their first spin, be able to do the bow, or whatever. You know? That’s awesome, because they come in here thinking they can’t do it, or most are intimidated by the pole, until they touch it and then they’re like, ‘Oh this is awesome. I want to try it.

A photo of the PoleKittens Fitness logo at the studio. Photo by Liz Odom.

Q: Would you do this full time if you could?

A: Yes, I would. It’s so rewarding seeing women feel better about themselves and, like I said, get the moves that they’ve been working on and it’s just, it’s really nice. Definitely I would do it, if it was more money. I plan on doing it for as long as I can — probably until I’m walking with a cane. V, the owner, still does it. I think she’s 45 or 46. She’s a lot better than I am. I hope to be like her.

Q: Do you think there is a stigma associated with pole dancing?

A: Well, I think anywhere you go, whenever you tell somebody that you pole dance or pole exercise, they’re automatically going to think the worst. And until somebody actually tries it, they don’t realize that it’s an exercise, but, when they try it, they’re like, ‘Oh, there really is a technique to a fireman’s spin,’ or, you know, the wrap-around.

There definitely is a stigma to it. I think everybody just automatically thinks of strippers and I think it’s unfair. Pole dancing actually is a sport, and it’s probably going to be in the Olympics here, soon. There’s more to it than just the sexy side — there is exercise. A lot of people don’t realize that it is really a workout.

 

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