Alternative ways to get fit: Pole dancing

By Madi Wong

Madi Wong, managing editor and Chloe Cook, arts editor ventured out to Brass Vixens Queen Street West studio to participate in a beginner pole dancing class. Watch them test their skills and moves and meet the Vixens  community.

Each person will differ and be at their own pace when it comes to working out. Whether you are a fitness enthusiast, a gym goer looking to try something new, or someone trying to find the right kind of exercise that motivates them.

Going for a run and weight lifting are typical go-to forms of exercise, but if you are not too keen on either of those options, there are plenty of alternatives to get you sweaty and in shape.

Indulging in a form of fitness that revolves around dance is a very popular, and very successful way for people to not only work out but thoroughly enjoy exercising.

For fourteen years, Brass Vixens, a Toronto-based pole dancing and fitness class studio, has boosted numerous bodies and minds with their high-energy and challenging classes.

With four studio locations across the GTA (Queen Street West, Yonge Street, Vaughan and Mississauga) they have become Toronto’s largest pole dancing and fitness class studio.

“Pole dancing is an amazing form of fitness. It works all aspects of your body; working on  toning your arms, back muscles, getting your abs conditioned, your legs as well,” said Melissa Jones, manager at Brass Vixens Queen Street West studio.

Pole tests your balance, coordination and flexibility. It also challenges every part of your body; abs, back, arms, legs. Through each elaborate and rhythmic move, you learn to discipline yourself to focus on accurately showcasing each movement.

Jones, who has been with Brass Vixens since day it first began, teaches all levels of pole dancing, stretch and conditioning classes.

Students are not limited to just pole dancing, each studio offers a variety of other classes including aerial, burlesque and lyra.

“For me, getting into actual teaching was built here. I loved being able to make people happy, make them smile. People being appreciative of me and what I was helping them with sparked a love of teaching,” said Jones.


CanCulture/Madi Wong

Abby Ramzi, an instructor at Brass Vixens, said that pole dancing is more than just a dance form to her.

"When I first started pole dancing, I had kind of negative perceptions about my body and myself and I just wasn't very comfortable being a woman. Just being in a time, growing up, [and] being in a culture where there’s a lot of pressure on women to look and behave in a certain way,” Ramzi said.

Before she became an instructor, she was a student who tried out a class after discovering the studio on Groupon. “I tried the first class and I was hooked ever since .. I just can’t get enough. I never stop,” she said.

Ramzi said that with pole, she is able to just be herself and strives to share that same feeling with her students. She wants each person to feel comfortable, grow and transfer their energy and perception into a more positive outlook on themselves.

Pole dancing is empowering, it releases your inner power and takes you to a new level of body confidence and positivity.

“People come in here, all shapes, all sizes, all ages. Men and women and everything in between. They come in with maybe low-self esteem and they leave with friends, they leave with a new version of themselves after their first class,” said Jones.

“So, we’re not just working on your physical fitness, we’re working on your health, well-being and state of mind.”

Both Ramzi and Jones said that their favourite part about Brass Vixen’s is the community and people they meet along the way.

Being in the studio, where the atmosphere is as lively and as engaging with all types of people allows for the Vixens workers and students to forge bonds and build relationships.

“You meet women in their 60s who just want to try something different. You meet young guys who, you know, just want a different form of fitness. Everybody has their own story and it is all unique … The relationships you build here are like nothing else,” said Jones.