As a former cheerleader, Danielle Carroll has always been pretty solid.
Traditional workouts, though, didn’t hold much appeal for the 26-year-old Fort Wayne woman. Lifting weights and lunges were repetitive. It wasn’t until a hobby-turned-profession took a turn for passion that she found herself running on the treadmill and doing bench presses.
I just got a personal trainer, she says. I got far enough in pole that I felt it getting dangerous not to work out other areas.
Carroll is the owner and instructor at Violet Expressions Pole Dance and Fitness Studio, 512 W. Superior St. She first started pole dancing a few years ago, watching videos online and getting a pole from Boudoir Noir to put in her bedroom.
Last year, she was twirling on a pole at the adult store and was later asked to be an instructor. She began teaching and has since become certified to teach pole dancing through Chicago-based Empowerment Through Exotic Dance.
I like that my brain isn’t thinking that I’m working out. I’m distracted, she says. It’s like a complete workout from the fact that you are up on your toes, and you are working your feet. You are working your legs to your posture. Every muscle in your body is engaged but you can’t even tell.
Workout: Pole dancing
What is it: Students learn mini choreographed routines over a six-week session that includes tricks and floor work. Classes are 75 minutes long.
Safety first: Carroll is serious when it comes to the risks of pole dancing. You can easily throw out a shoulder or twist an ankle if you are not paying attention to everything, she says.
Cues for proper form are given during class and corrections are made to prevent injury.
Cross training: Carroll works with a trainer once a week and runs on the treadmill to improve her strength and cardiorespiratory fitness for pole dancing. She also takes dance classes to learn the more technical side of other genres, such as ballet.
Gear: The clothes become smaller and smaller as one becomes more advanced in pole, Carroll says with a laugh. Skin adds friction on the pole, allowing dancers to catch themselves.
For beginners, she recommends wearing bottoms that are above the knee or can be pulled up to expose the knee. Some also like to use knee pads for some tricks.
Rewards: According to LiveStrong.com, a woman can burn about 350 calories in an hourlong class. Carroll says many participants comment that they see muscle definition and weight loss after regular participation.
But it’s not just about the physical change, she says. It’s also the mental one.
I want to take women who are not comfortable in themselves comfortable in their skin and show them that I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care how short or tall or round you are, she says. You can feel comfortable in yourself and move your body in a different way.
Goals: I really want to get into competitive level pole, Carroll says. It’s a level of pole that people don’t really know exist.