Submit your own testimonial or keep reading to find out what others have said.
The students were asked a series of questions to help you get a better feel for what the Academy is all about. Here are their unedited responses:
Describe yourself (i.e. age, profession, education level, marital status, etc).
I'm a 24-year-old graduate student studying molecular cell biology. I'm pretty much a workaholic that was looking for some exercise and a good hobby, when I stumbled upon pole dancing.
23 year old professional actress with a bachelor's degree. Engaged to be married August 2010.
43 year old wife and mother of 6 ages (23, 22, 20, 18, 17 & 16), some college, business analyst and aerobics instructor.
I am a 26 year old meeting planner with my BA in Public Relations from Webster University and professional burlesque dancer.
I am a 44 year old woman that is currently staying home with my young children. I am also a registered art therapist that used to work with children with emotional disturbances and a certified yoga teacher.
Hi everybody! I am 30 years old and I have been married to a wonderful man for 6 years now. I am an alumnus of Saint Louis University and I graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelors degree in Geology. I am a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and am currently a Geologist with a government remediation contractor. My husband and I run a record label and also keep busy screenprinting and making jewelry. I am a classically trained ballerina and am a certified professional from the Cecchetti Council of America. I was a dancer for 16 years and am trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, modern, lyrical, character and hip hop. I performed in The Nutcracker with The St. Louis Ballet for a season and was a principle dancer with the State Street Ballet Company for 8 years.
28 Beverage Manager /
BA in Art Therapy
34 years old, married. Have a Master's Degree in social work. Live in South St. Louis. Also do bodybuilding competitions.
I am 23 with a double bachelors in mathematics and biology. I'm currently in graduate school working towards a PhD. I'm pretty much just an all around nerd who enjoys running, rock climbing, hockey and pole dancing :)
What are some unexpected benefits from pole class?
One thing I like about pole dancing is that it challenges me every day. There is always something new, a cool trick that you see someone else do and you want to learn. It's a mental and emotional release that I look forward to every week. No matter how bad my day is, at least I have pole to go to in the evening!
The amazing lasting friendships and camaraderie are the greatest benefits. The toned arms aren't too bad either.
Improved upper body strength and improved flexibility.
The arm strength I have gained!
Pole class achieves what I think many therapies hope to provide a client. It is a nurturing, safe and supportive environment. People look their whole lives for unconditional love, and that is present in the class. Pole class meets us where we are in terms of strength and confidence and builds from there. As your strength builds, you start to throw away those old messages of "not being enough" and start to realize how exceptional you really are!
Taking pole dancing lessons has helped me feel more attractive whether I'm dancing or not. If I'm in a bar I know that if I had a pole I could turn on most of the guys there & that makes me feel so much more confident even if I'm not actually dancing.
Some of the unexpected benefits from pole class for me was that I have really noticed where my physical strengths and weaknesses are. Being a dancer for so long, your flexibility and leg strength are really what carries you. You train the same muscles over and over again and you hit a plateau, once you're there, you're there and it kind of feels like you won the game of classical ballet, there is not too much after that. With pole, you use your leg strength, our arm strength, core strength and cardio endurance...it really is the whole package. It was quite obvious to me, very quickly, that my core and arm strength were lacking and I knew spot on what I needed to work on.
Not only is the class great for self confidence, but it has helped me start to face my fears of letting go to do spins as well as face my fear of falling and heights.
Confidence, confidence, confidence, and comfort in own skin. Also, the comradery with fellow students.
How comfortable you become with yourself and people you just met.
A new found appreciation for gravity...it's always there, but when you realize it's helping you hold onto the pole, you love it so much more.
Describe the “pole class community”.
The pole girls are awesome, I have never had so much fun with people from such different backgrounds. I love the way everyone is so accepting and supportive, which is important when you're trying something new and you're nervous. We have pole parties almost every week at someone's house, which are a great way to socialize and enjoy even more pole time!
The pole class community is a diverse, exciting group of talented individuals. We learn from each other, inquire about each others' respective lives and professions outside of class, and provide unconditional support to one another in whatever we come across in and out of the classroom.
Everyone is fun loving, very supportive and friendly. The pole class community is a strong, supportive group of women. It has introduced me to another group of people I am now proud to call friends.
The pole class community is one of the most emotionally supportive that I have ever had the opportunity to partake in. The group encourages and cheers each other on through challenging new pole tricks and all the other hurdles that life throws out every day. I also love the diversity of my pole friends. I love that my peers are not just like me! And instead are in school, or in careers, or dating, or trying to figure themselves out.
There are people of all ages, sizes and backgrounds from gorgeous moms (you know who you are) to graceful grad students. Everyone I've met through class has been very kind and encouraging. You couldn't find people who are more warm and accepting.
I was born and raised in this area and thought I had seen it all, but after pole and meeting new people and their friends, a whole new culture was exposed to me! Between the pole community and burlesque community, I have never met such loving, accepting and supportive people. Everyone is open minded and not afraid to try new things.
The pole class community is about empowerment, love, beauty and really taking back your own sexuality. The pole class community is fantastic! All walks of life come to experience the fun of pole. Everyone is fun, welcoming and enthusiastic. They are all encouraging and helpful too!
The best group of people around!
It is extremely welcoming and caring. Everyone looks out for one another and is there to cheer you on for every milestone. Whether it's making it one more centimeter further down in your splits or finally mastering an inversion you've been working on for months.
Describe your physical and/or emotional growth.
Definitely more in touch with certain things.
I've always been a little self-conscious about my body, to the point that I had not worn shorts for several years. Now the little lumps and bumps don't bother me so much because when you're hanging around with other women that also have lumps and bumps, and are still enjoying themselves, it doesn't seem like such a big deal. Additionally, I have noticed my entire body is stronger, more toned, and flexible. The first time I saw my sisters after starting pole, they were amazed at how slim and fit I looked. And the best part is, it doesn't feel like work at all, it's all fun!
As a professional dancer, my body has appreciated the additional growth and flexibility pole class has offered. I have never been better in tune with my upper body and my core. Pole class has certainly strengthened my arms and back, but overall has provided me with excellent awareness of my body's position in space and in forming aesthetically pleasing lines.
I'm no longer as shy as I used to be, more in touch with my sexuality and have released a lot of inhibitions.
I have noticed a significant change in my overall strength and flexibility. I am continuing to grow in love with my body.
Physically, I am the strongest that I have been in my entire life. I love that the strength comes from lifting my body weight and not from going to a gym. Emotionally, I am the happiest that I have ever been in my body, which says a lot given that I have 2 children!
Physically, this class is GREAT exercise. I'm in better shape now than when I was in the military. It has also given me a sense of confidence and makes me feel more attractive even when I'm not dancing.
I feel that now, at age 30, I have completely changed the way I view myself and other. I almost feel cheated that I just now found pole and the people associated with it, at the same time I think at the age I am now I am ready to turn myself into what I have always wanted to be. If I were any younger, I don't know if I would have been ready. My emotional growth has been the major change I have noticed, I realize now that if you are comfortable within yourself, you can exude a certain level of sexuality that can overtake the preconceived notion that today's mainstream society has pounded in our heads...that if you're the skinny model type that equals beauty, it couldn't be further from the truth. I have the state of mind now, after years of yo-yo dieting, just like most women...that my goal is now to be strong enough to advance in pole. Being able to do more advanced tricks and acrobatics will do more for my self-esteem than fitting into a size 2. I know my body, I am more familiar with it now...I know that if I were a size 2, my body could not be strong enough to do the tricks I want to do. My goals have changed, my emotional state has changed, my body image has changed, my sexuality has changed and all for the better.
I have started to let go a little more and trust that my body will do what it is supposed to do. I still have a long way to go, but trusting myself to let go is something I have started to do.
Definitely more in touch with certain things.
I've always had issues with body image, but in pole class nothing matters. Everyone is accepted for who they are and it's a judge free zone. Pole night is by far my favorite night/hour of the week. The physical benefits are amazing! I'm a lot more flexible and my arms and core are super toned.
Describe Michelle’s teaching style.
Michelle is absolutely amazing. Not only is she a fabulous teacher but she's also a wonderful friend. Even though the classes are taught in groups, each person gets individual attention. She knows what each person is working on and strives to help them reach their goals. She's always happy with our progress, even when we're hard on ourselves.
Michelle is the best teacher I have ever had, bar none. She is down-to-earth, open and accepting, fun, and safe. She breaks everything down step by step so everyone can understand the mechanics of the moves, and provides good coaching when you want to chicken out. There are very few people whom I would trust to spot me, and know that it's ok to take my hands off the pole when I feel like I'm about to plummet to the ground headfirst, and Michelle is one of them. If that doesn't say she's an amazing teacher, I don't know what does.
Michelle is one of the greatest people I've ever met, not to mention a spectacular teacher. She alters her teaching style to suit each individual's personality as well as skill level, and never hesitates to offer compliments as well as constructive criticism. A laid-back, gentle person, Michelle's classroom environment is never intimidating and always welcoming.
Michelle is an awesome teacher, who is very detailed as well as a cheerleader for those who think they can't. She's able to explain in detail how to position your body.
Michelle is very hands on, friendly, and patient. Three things I love about her.
Michelle knows that I can do things that I don't think are possible...and she is right. She has a warm, nurturing, encouraging, welcoming and funny approach that makes every class a delight. It really feels more like getting together with a bunch of friends to play, than an "exercise class." The classes wiz by and we are all left wanting more.
I met Michelle for the first time at our performance in August. I had been taking classes for about a month & a half but I had so much fun doing them that I wanted to be in the show. While we were waiting, I was freaking out a bit because I had less experience than anyone else there & I was afraid I'd mess up. Michelle noticed without my having to say anything. She came over & told me that she had seen the video of my practice and that I was going to do great. She told me the things I was good at and told me things to keep in mind while I was out there. Even though she had a million things on that night, for a few minutes all of her attention was focused on reassuring me. She truly is an amazing teacher. Don't tell her I said so though ;)
I have been taught by numerous people throughout my life but none with the style such as Michelle's. Having been a serious dancer, my teachers never let us think that we were good enough to help us push further. Some people thrive in that environment, others don't. Michelle loves what she teaches and that brings a level of excitement to each and every class. She is very positive and never lets us say "can't." She encourages us to bring our own style and own attitude to every move we make. She reinforces the fact that we are all beautiful no matter body type, size or shape. We all thrive in her positive atmosphere and speaking for myself, I carry that with me outside of class as well.
Michelle will show you the trick and demonstrate it as much as you need her to. She is one on one, encouraging, enthusiastic, and always eager to point out your triumphs and improvements. She is FANTASTIC!
Anything else you think people should know about pole?
You will smile, laugh and have more fun in one hour of pole class than you probably have in quite a while.
The bruises go away. Sort of. And either way, we looked into it; there's no long-term damage. Promise.
The experience I've gained from taking the pole dancing class is like none other. It's something you can do for yourself and have fun with and not be judged. Michelle is awesome!
That Michelle is the best teacher I have ever had.
Pole is a great way to get back that child-like sense of play that may be missing in life. It really is a chance to let your "inner monkey" shine.
This is a program about acrobatics, strength (core and upper body), flexibility, and problem solving. You have to figure out how to get from one move to the next, almost like a physical sudoku! This is not a program about finding your inner stripper, unless you are talking about stripping away your inhibitions and negative body image!
If there is one thing I would like people to know about pole is that you don't need any kind of formal dance background to do it!! Michelle teaches it in a way that someone who has never stepped foot in a dance studio or near a pole, we all start on the same level. Speaking as someone who has a dance background, pole is a whole different beast!! You come into class for one purpose, to have fun...then you're hooked despite your talent on the pole! It truly is a love story.
This class is FUN, FUN, FUN! It's hard not to love it!
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