What people understand—and don’t—about pole dance fitness is that it's as fascinating as the workout itself.
Instructors teach pole dancing techniques—the acrobatic art form originated in China (think Cirque du Soleil) and was appropriated to varying levels in burlesque and strip clubs—to help clients gain confidence, reach their muscle tone and weight loss goals, and feel sexy.
But confusion about what pole fitness is haunts the industry, to some extent.
A misunderstanding pushed the ladies from PoleLaTeaz—an Atlanta-area studio with two locations—into a business park warehouse instead of a storefront with heavier foot traffic when they opened in 2006.
“Due to the nature of what we’re doing—pole dance fitness—a lot of landlords would not let us into the prime real estate,” said CEO and founder Angela Edwards. “So, I didn’t have a choice but to go off the beaten path.”
If unease with a group fitness class that shares some DNA with exotic dancing put some landlords off, Edwards—who founded PoleLaTeaz—made it work for her.
After opening in an 800 square foot space focused exclusively on pole and sensual dance, Edwards, a registered nurse by training, now runs a sprawling 6,000 square foot main location with three spacious dance rooms, professional lighting, and a clothing boutique. The studio also expanded into offering aerial hoop (lyra) and low aerial silks, transforming into a full aerial arts studio with an emphasis on flow and sexy, sensual movement.
“All of our programs are geared towards the everyday woman, and we specialize in low height aerial arts to make it more accessible to the general public,” Edwards said.
It’s what PoleLaTeaz’ staff understands about pole and aerial fitness—its ability to deliver confidence and fitness results to women across the age and body-type spectrum—that made the business successful.
“We’re very pro being yourself,” said Erin Bernard, fitness director at PoleLaTeaz, which has two-Atlanta-area locations. “Whether that is super sex-kitten, or you’re a tomboy, or if you are somewhere in between. We’ve had several women tell us we’ve actually changed their lives when they’ve come in here. They’ve found their way again.”
PolelaTeaz clients range from women in their 20s to 70s and everywhere in between. Its teachers also represent a wide range of body types.
“We have women who are small and we also have curvy, plus-sized women who teach for us,” Edwards said. “We get a lot of tall girls that love it that I have girls who are tall that work for me, because they don’t ever see their height in dance… you have to have a broad spectrum.”
Mindbody's fitness software adds a clear-eyed understanding of where the business stands, Edwards said.
“When we first met with Mindbody, that was a big turning point for us,” said Edwards. She’s been a client since 2006 “I wasn’t really paying attention to our numbers back then. I was like ‘oh, there’s money in the bank.’”
After sitting down with a Mindbody-certified Consultant, Edwards learned how to assess Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor income. She also learned how to analyze her profit and loss to figure out how the company spent its money.
“That (meeting) was so key,” Edwards said. “It made a difference on how we move forward. We refer to our information now before we take a class off the schedule. Is it our timing? Is it the teacher? Your KPIs give you a chance to assess that information and make a logical, data-driven decision vs. a ‘well I feel like it’s this,’ because half the time, you’re wrong.”