by Danielle Rivera and Catherine Ferris // Scarsdale Inquirer
Pole instructor and owner of Pole Position Dance Studio, Taylor Starke, said the studio's main goal is, "fighting monotony." It's easy to get stuck in a hum drum routine, Starke said --work, home, kids, bills. Rise, repeat.
At Pole Positon, that tedium evaporates. "People come and dance to the music on-beat, off-beat, flip your hair, don't flip your hair. It doesn't matter," she said. "Really, our group of people just want to have a really good time."
That they do. For frequenters like 62-year-old, Dally Ourman, "This is my sanity place."
Ourman is striking, small-framed and inarguably sexy. She performs advanced, soulful pole choreography with ease, and she's only been pole dancing for the last five years. Two years after losing her husband, Ourman, a resident of Yonkers, was looking for a new form of exercise.
She tried belly dancing and yoga but switched over to pole dancing after hearing rave reviews about the White Plains studio. Now, Ourman said she's never going back. "There's nothing like pole [dance]," she said.
Ourman spends 30 hours every month in the studio and has even seen an improvement in physical injuries she withstood after taking tumble a few years back.
"People that are younger than me can't keep up," she said.
Taking that challenge, Inquirer reporters Catherine Ferris and Danielle Rivera paid a visit to the studio to try out beginner's pole fitness and aerial Fly Gym yoga.
Liz Bohan leads the aerial class, as well as advanced pole tricks, pole'ography, chair/lap and pole potential classes. The reporters joined Bohan in a late morning session, which they agreed was a fun challenge.
"For the last few months, my main form of exercise has been kickboxing," Ferris said. "We sweat. We ache at the end. Sometimes, depending on what muscle group we exercise, we're sore for days."
Aerial yoga, she said, was huge departure.
"With kickboxing, it's quick, explosive movements," Ferris said. "Yoga requires holding poses for a longer period of time."
She called the experience an enjoyable full body workout, though more intensive than she expected.
"Something a simple as holding a pose requires so much more strength than someone can imagine," she said.
Rivera said she was grateful to tap into her flexibility.
"I hardly ever stretch anymore," she said, "probably because I hardly ever work out. But my muscles felt loser and more relaxed leaving that class than they've felt in a long time."
Bohan wasn't surprised by the reporters' reactions.
"It's as if aerials and TRX had a baby, " she said. The TRX System, or Total Resistance eXercise, refers to a specialized form of suspension training using equipment developed by former U.S. Navy Seal, Randy Hetrick.
After a positive experience with aerials, the reporters turned their attention to the namesake of the studio.
"Doing the pole fitness class was something I was extremely excited about, but [I] became more nervous when we actually got started," Ferris said. "I'm very conscious of how my body looks, so I felt like I was hyper-aware of every movement I made."
Ferris said she felt silly at first, but the more she laughed her way through it, the more comfortable she became.
Eventually, "I let myself make the mistakes and...actually have fun with the routine," she said.
Rivera said she was somewhat nervous too, but was able to work through the slightly awkward early stretch.
"Taylor made me feel so comfortable," she said. "She was cracking jokes the whole time and cheering us on. That kind of girl empowerment--women supporting women--it felt really good."
Starke walked the reporters through the basic mechanics of pole, from the signature slinky walk to a mini climb, in which dancers hoist themselves up using their forearms and slide down.
Rivera said the spins-- which came in "fireman and attitude" form--were her favorite part. "They're ironically kind of gleeful and childlike," she said.
In terms of technique, the reporters had varying results.
"I'm naturally a righty in most things--when I write, when I throw, and when I bat," Ferris said. "But when I pole dance, I'm a lefty. Go figure."
Indeed, Ferris said she had an easier time performing moves on her non-dominant side, from swings to steps.
Rivera, in contrast, felt more comfortable on her right.
Still, both reporters agreed the physical demands were great. Starke said the best way to improve on that front is to do more of it.
"People think they need to be strong to [pole dance] when, in reality, it makes you strong," she said. "So you can start out wherever you are, fitness wise."
At the end of the session, Starke taught the reporters a short, choreographed routine to Beyonce's "Rocket," a slow, sultry, neosoul/R&B number off of her 2013 self-titled album.
"I felt pretty good about what I did," Rivera said. "It was really fun pushing my body to new levels, and I loved surprising myself with what I could do."
Overall the reporters maintained a few regrets.
"Next time I'll definitely dress in a way that makes me feel more comfortable and confident," Rivera said. "Comfortable tank, hair down."
True; there were a lot of hair flips involved.
"But I would absolutely come back," she said.
Ferris said her takeaway was as emotional as it was physical.
"Above all I felt empowered," she said. "I stopped worrying about how my body was going to look. I stopped worrying that I wasn't a Victoria's Secret Angel. I [appreciated] my body and what it was allowing me to do. I think that was probably the best part of the class, finally feeling a sense of freedom with my body."
Pole Position dance studio is located 110 Mamaroneck Ave, Second floor, in downtown White Plains. For pricing and more information visit www.polepositionstudio.com.