Name: Ashley Popoli
School or Club: Vertical Addiction – My studio which is to open in September 2012
Location: Stamford, CT
Signature Move: Brass monkey
Splits or no Splits? Over splits!
P2P: How did you find pole dance, or did it find you?
AP: Pole fitness definitely found me. It’s a funny story actually. I was at the gym stretching one day and Jeni Janover saw me doing splits. I had no idea who she was but she came over and started asking me about my background and where my flexibility came from. I told her I was a gymnast and she immediately told me about pole and how I needed to take her class. At the time it sounded cool but I didn’t think much of it. A few months later, after more conversations with Jeni I finally took a class and was instantly hooked. It was very reminiscent of my gymnastic days.
P2P: Who taught you, or how did you learn?
AP: Jeni really took me under her wing. She told me I had great potential to be successful as a pole fitness artist, although at the time I had no idea what that meant. She dedicated a lot of time to training me and continues to support me every day.
P2P: How did you think and feel back then, being a newbie?
AP: I loved learning new tricks. I was always excited to get to class and always wanted to be upside down. It just felt comfortable, probably because of my background. I actually advanced quickly in my classes.
P2P: And now?
AP: I’ve been taking pole classes for a little over a year now and Jeni has taken me pretty much as far as she can. A few months ago I started taking classes with Kyra Johannesen at Body & Pole! Kyra’s teaching style works well for me and I am very comfortable with her. She knows how to push me and understands my strengths and weaknesses. She also helped me prepare for the Pole2Pole Cup USA 2012 competition Amateur Category and I am so thankful for her believing in me.
P2P: Where/who do you get your inspiration from?
AP: I love watching Zoraya Judd. She has very strong movements and utilizes her strength to her advantage. Her performance style reminds me of myself. Oona Kivela is my favourite. I have never seen anyone pole dance like her. It’s amazing how she ties so many tricks together so quickly and makes it all look effortless. You can also see the gymnast in her which is why I find myself gravitating towards her. I also love watching Jeni Janover perform because she is captivating to watch. Her style of movement is so fluid and elegant; completely different strengths than mine.
P2P: Describe your dancing style in one sentence.
AP: Sharp, strong, animalistic.
P2P: What training regimes/diets do you have?
AP: I work out 5-6 days a week. My workouts always include cardio, whether it’s running, spinning or the elliptical. I love running because it’s liberating and a way for me to release stress. I incorporate yoga, Pilates and kickboxing in rotation as well. I love trying new forms of fitness, mainly anything that really kicks my butt.
P2P: How often do you pole, and how long for?
AP: Currently I’m poling 2-3 days a week; sometimes more, sometimes less. I’d like to get on a consistent schedule of at least three classes, however I’m focusing a majority of my time on opening my studio which I’m thrilled about. It’s set to open in September and I cannot wait to share my love of pole fitness with the community.
P2P: What are your thoughts and opinions about the industry and pole dancing being more mainstream now?
AP:There are still many people who are sceptical about pole fitness and don’t understand nor care to understand what it’s really about. My parents were uneasy with the idea of it at the beginning but now I hear them speak about it in a more positive light. I do make an effort to educate people in my life about the industry and the amazing fitness benefits it offers. I am thrilled that pole dancing is becoming a popular form of fitness. The fact that there is discussion of it possibly becoming an Olympic sport speaks volumes about the validity of the sport.
P2P: How have things changed?
AP: I’ve always had a competitive nature and was thrilled to find that pole fits who I am perfectly. I knew automatically that I wanted to compete. I thrive under pressure and love the adrenaline rush I get from being in front of a crowd. After winning Pole2pole, it solidified my love of competition and made me feel even more empowered to create a name for myself within the industry. It validated my confidence and acted as a solid reminder that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. What has and continues to drive me is goal setting. I goal set regularly to outline what I want to accomplish and the date I want to accomplish it by. Writing things down makes you hold yourself accountable to your commitments. It’s an extremely powerful tool to create success in life.
P2P: What are your favourite moves?
AP: Anything upside down and anything that looks crazy. Kyra just taught me Prince into Aisha and that looks hot. Slide climb into Remi sit is cool especially on spinning pole. My next goal is to learn Iron X and Handspring Mount.
P2P: How long did it take you to nail those?
AP: Prince into Aisha I learned right away, surprisingly. I found it easy to get into Aisha from coming into it from above. I’m still working on getting it on my bad side. The Aisha alone took me about a month to learn. I couldn’t get my elbow grip right for a long time. I have absolutely no patience and when I see something I want to do I have to learn it right away. I have to stop and remind myself that harder tricks take time.
P2P: Who are your favourite dancers out there now?
AP:Oona Kivela – she looks like superwoman on the pole.
P2P: What competitions have you entered or won?
AP: The Pole2Pole Cup USA 2012 competition in the AmateurCategory. I’m entering the Boston Conference in September which I’m so excited for.
P2P: What are your future plans for pole dance?
AP: My dreams are endless. I want to continue competing for sure. My goal is to submit and be chosen as a finalist for the APFA championship in 2013. I’d also like to perform. I’m not sure what that looks like for me yet but I love being in front of people.
P2P: Do you have any upcoming events?
AP: My focus is the opening of my studio “Vertical Addiction” in September. The Boston competition is also in September so I’ll have a lot going on, but I’m excited about it all.
P2P: What hints and tips would you like to share with our readers?
AP:Decide what you want to do and focus your energies on that thing. Be dedicated, create a schedule and stick to it. Stay positive – we all have good and bad days but success comes from perseverance. Be true to yourself, have fun and love what you do!