Movement is often thought of as a gruelling, sweat session at the gym or a monotonous run on the treadmill. It doesn’t have to be that way! Make it an enjoyable part of self-care by doing an activity that’s fun and leaves you feeling invigorated. Have you ever thought of giving pole dance a try?

In this interview with Melanie of Volair Fitness, we become aware of the unlimited styles of pole dance and learn about her ‘on’ and ‘off’ the pole programs. She also offers some excellent advice for those looking to explore this dance form.

Website: volairfitness.com
Instagram: @volairfitness
Facebook: Volair Fitness Studio

If you’d like to get a feel for Melanie’s teaching style and classes then click here to try this free 5 minute sensual movement teaser!

Carol: Hi mamas, it’s Carol Webb. I’m the founder of Just Breathe Mama Coach. I am a coach, EFT and Reiki practitioner. I am passionate about helping moms navigate the overwhelm to create more manageable and joyful lives. As we continue to explore self-care I wanted to add movement into the mix. Today I am so excited to have one of my dance instructors here with us. She has created a business that has a beautiful vision for empowering women.

Carol: This is Melanie from Volair Fitness. Melanie is a pole dance and sensual movement instructor and a health and wellness researcher. She was widowed before the age of 30 and has since been on a healing journey, empowering herself to get unstuck from uninspiring situations to live a joyful, loving life. She created Volair to guide people on similar journeys to grow from being stuck to living an inspired life. So welcome, Mel. It’s great to have you here.

Melanie: Hi, thank you for having me today. I’m very excited to be here with you.

Carol: Great! So how did you start on your pole and sensual dance journey? Please tell us your story.

Melanie: Of course. I was a dancer when I was in high school, so all through my childhood and adolescence I danced. Then when I went to university, I was super passionate about health and fitness so I went into kinesiology. I ended up doing more things like going to the gym, which was great. Still nice and healthy, but I missed that part of dance that enables you to give the expression and to really feel. To have that emotional outlet while I was doing all these academic endeavor things. So I was always looking for adult ballet classes, adult jazz classes, but they just seem to not really be at a level where they gave me the type of challenge where I felt like I could push myself through. They’d be eight week beginner sessions every now and then.

Melanie: I couldn’t find anything with real consistency. Then I came across pole dance and I was like, “Oh, this is kind of cool. I can learn some acrobatic things and get back to my dance stuff.” So I started it with that in mind and I had no idea the profound impact it would have on me. It gave me a place to explore my own sensuality and to be kind of sexy and to do all these things that were foreign to me. At the time I was a masters student who just spent all my day in a research lab measuring heart rate and blood pressure waves. So that’s how I got started and then it just tied me in and I kept going with it.

Carol: I love that. I think that a lot of people still think that there is only one style of pole dance out there, but they’d be pretty surprised to know that there are so many different styles. Can you tell us some of the different styles offered?

Melanie: Absolutely. It’s a dance form so the number of styles you can have are completely unlimited based on whoever your instructor is and whatever their background is. So of course there’s the one that everyone would probably instantly associate with it and that would be the erotic, sensual movement, sexy style. There’s also pole fitness so a lot of people will use it and have the basic goal of it to be to increase strength. So it’s a very strength based, workout based type of thing.

Melanie: There’s actually a pole sport now where pole is being watched by the IOC so the international Olympic Committee for entry into the Olympics as a gymnastic sport. And then with pole dance, there’s people who do contemporary dance in it, there’s people with martial arts backgrounds who bring a really interesting martial artsy vibe into it. Parkour people come in and do it and then there’s people who bring in their Latin vibe. If they have ballroom or different styles of ballroom, different styles of dance. It’s really unlimited styles based on whatever movement you prefer and whatever you choose to bring to it.

Image by Eric Nopanen

Carol: Yeah. That’s pretty amazing how it’s evolved actually.

Melanie: It’s evolved huge, yeah!

Carol: Can you tell us a bit about the programs you offer, especially the program that’s off the pole called ‘Devotion?’ Because I think a lot of our moms or many of the moms may not have a pole at home.

Melanie: Yeah, for sure. That is definitely a limitation. Normally it takes a little while before you buy the pole and throw it up in your living room behind you. So right now all of our programs are online. With COVID we switched from having studio to going all online. We have one program that is pole based and it’s called ‘Dare’ and it’s based around challenging yourself to build a showcase routine. So you can show it off at the end and we can all celebrate all of our amazing accomplishments that we’ve had along the way. I won’t talk too much about that one though, because that’s our pole one.

Melanie: Our ‘Devotion’ program is a six week container and the goal of it is to just explore. So you’ll explore through movement, through reflection and through connecting with all of the other people who are in the group with you. It’s sort of a self discovery. So it’s really focused on moving the way that feels good for you. Each week we have a specific theme. We have six themes: openness, presence, vulnerability, courage, play and love. And each week we have our movement and a couple of exercises that I’ll guide you through, but they’re not specific. So they’re all at whatever level you want, whatever feels right and authentic to you.

Melanie: Then there’s little reflection exercise to carry it through your week so that you can really build that awareness through your daily life or apply it to your life depending on what stage in your journey you’re in. And then we have a little gathering after our movement, so we just get to chat and connect with other women or people, whoever’s in the group and just connect that way. So it’s really about discovering yourself and getting back to that authentic place where you want to be living your life from.

Carol: Right. It’s about the connection to you. I love that. It’s beautiful. So that one is definitely good for beginners as well.

Melanie: Oh, absolutely. There’s no pre-requisites. You just work within your own comfort, your own abilities. And if you’re looking for a workout, it’s still movement. You can give yourself a workout, you can keep it super gentle, you can make it a bit more intense. You bring to it what you bring to it and want to.

Carol: Oh, that’s great because sometimes you just want to move. You don’t necessarily want to be completely challenged, you just want to move your body and it’s a great way to do it. You can challenge yourself if you want to.

Melanie: Yeah, for sure.

Carol: Do you ever have moms join your classes?

Melanie: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think the greater proportion of people in my programs are actually moms.

Carol: When I started I actually felt so empowered and it was so beautiful being around a community of women, whether it’s online or in person. I felt stronger again. It was so nice when I chose to do the more erotic or the heels classes, it was really nice to connect with that sexy side for me. Just for me. And it was really beautiful.

Melanie: That’s beautiful.

Carol: What is the top question that you tend to get asked by clients?

Melanie: This is an interesting question because a lot of people won’t come out and ask me a question. A lot of people, like very, very common when they want to start, instead of asking a question, they’ll kind of make a statement. They’ll be like, “Oh, but I’m not strong enough for this, right?” Or “I’m not really sexy enough for this, right?” Or “This isn’t really for me because I’m a mom, right?” So it comes out more like this statement of, “I’m not enough of something, am I?”

Melanie: My answer to all that is – you totally are. Like all of the classes, if you jump into a beginner class, whether it’s an off the pole or on the pole, they’re meant for beginners. So we don’t come into class one and do crazy acrobatics and stuff. It’s meant for you to start where you are. Give yourself whatever challenge you need. And whether you’re with me or any other instructor, if you choose to go to a studio, all of the instructors I’ve met are really great at like getting a positive challenge.

Melanie: So it’s enough to push you, but not enough to discourage you. That’s something I found very common across, at least the people that I’ve trained around and who have been in my training category. As far as, “I’m not sexy.” Yeah, you are! If you want to be, you can be. It’s whatever you want to be, you can be, you just need to decide it and come into it. So that’s kind of the question, “Am I enough?” And the answer is, “Of course you’re enough.” Come try and see if you like it or not.

Carol: Yeah, totally. So what are the biggest benefits that you think moms would receive from doing these types of classes? Pole or your other programs?

Image by David Hoffman

Melanie: Of course, if you do the fitness style, there’s all of the fitness benefits, but people know what those are anyway. I think the biggest benefit that people in general get from this program or pole in general, not necessarily just my program, is like you were saying, that feeling of empowerment. This is something I’m doing for myself. For a lot of women especially, we don’t really have a safe space to be sexy. Like if we’re out in public where it’s not an acceptable thing to express. So this gives you a nice, safe space to be able to explore it. To express it and to get back to that. And I think as moms, that’s a really important part because there’s kind of this stigma that goes around with being a mom like, you were sexy and then you became a mom. Now you’re a mom.

Melanie: And so it brings back to, you’re a mom, but you’re still the same woman you were and you’re still all the same things. I’m not a mom myself, but I’ve had other clients tell me it’s been really helpful for them to set an example for their kids. So for their kids to see their mom have their own hobby, their own goals, their own struggles and to see them deal with that and see their mom as a person, who’s not just their mom, but has their own things. And then as your kids have certain struggles through soccer or whatever their activity is, then you can relate to them and talk about your struggles in your growth and grow together. Your child’s going to have that appreciation of you as someone other than the person who is their mom.

Carol: Yeah. Most definitely. Both of those are really good benefits. I’ve seen it with my kids. They love it when mommy’s going to class. They’re like, “Oh, mom’s going to class” and they’re very excited for me. They know that I have my own interests and it is really important. I did think about that earlier when we were speaking, about how moms are loving and amazing moms, but they tend to forget who they were before they were a mom. They’re like, “I can’t really be sexy now that I’m a mom, I’m a mom!” But you can if you want to, you can. You can develop the strength side of it if you don’t feel like exploring the sexy side yet. Whatever it is you want.

Melanie: Absolutely. And it’s interesting you say that because I fully went through like a period of this where I was really into academic stuff. I was like, “Oh, I’m not sexy so I’m just going to be this strong person. I’m going to do all the tricks and do all the things and really focus on the strength.”

Melanie: And then there was this one pole dancer named Michelle Shimmy. She used to be a lawyer and I saw her do this really sexy dance. I was like, “If she’s a lawyer and she can do that and I’m an academic then maybe I can do that.” From seeing this idol of mine who related to me, I was like, “Yeah, I can do it.” Then I just eased my way into it. So I started with the sexy because that’s what all pole dance was when I started. Then started exploring my own contemporary background, dance, trick stuff and then came back to the sexy after, when I felt confident.

Carol: Amazing. So what advice would you give to moms just starting out with pole, sensual dance, with any of your programs?

Melanie: My first piece advice would be to believe that you are enough and that you’re worthy of it. That this time is going to be something that’s important to you. It’s overall going to benefit you, your family, everyone that you’re around. So keep in mind that this is your time to devote to yourself and it’s important. The other advice for being able to move forward with it would be to release any judgements that you have.

Melanie: It’s a new activity and many times people will be like, “I can’t pick this stuff up quite as good.” Or “I don’t look like you when I do this.” I’ve been dancing since I was five years old and I don’t want people to look like me when they dance. I want people to look like them when they dance. So it would be to release your judgment, be ready to explore and be open to whatever direction it takes you. Like I said, my directions have been sexy, strong, competitive, back to sexy all over so just be open to the journey. Maybe it stays in pole the whole time, maybe you find other activities. But just be open, non-judgemental and trust that you’re enough.

Carol: Oh, I love that. Fantastic advice, thanks Mel. And ladies, if you’re interested in finding out more information you can check out her website at volairfitness.com. You can follow her on Instagram @volairfitness and on Facebook under Volair Fitness Studio. Thank you for that wonderful information today and it was great seeing you and having you on.

Melanie: Oh, so good to see you too. Thank you so much for having me here.

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