Poleexercise founder Lucy Misch shares in her interview with me the products and resources she has created as well as the path she has paved in the pole dance movement.
I am so happy to finally be able to learn more about you and Poleexercise. I like the films, DVDs and resources you have brought to the pole community (more about those later!).
How were you first introduced to pole dance?
I started learning to pole before X-Pole existed. Back then there was only one pole company and it was a very underground scene which only dancers in gentlemen’s clubs part took in.
I bought a pole and put it up in my living room as I thought it looked like fun. I bought the only DVD that was on the market, Pantera’s Pole Tricks 101, and tried to do the moves. I failed miserably. I had no upper body strength and the moves were hard! (Well, they were for me!)
My boyfriend at the time came around and he showed me how he could do half the moves without even trying. I realised that pole and strength were related. I was at university at the time, and I sat down with my friend and said 'why don't we start out our own school?'
I realised that women and men could use the pole to train in order to get fit and quite frankly have a fun workout which was exciting (I was sick of the gym at this point in my life!). I had a background of learning to teach physical sports (I was a trained Scuba diving instructor) and so my good friend Libby and I developed the syllabus and started the first PoleExercise school in the world to teach pole as a form of fitness, to both women and men.
Yes, I would agree Pantera’s awesome DVD is NOT for the beginner! Then how did you go about learning and training?
It was hard. No one was doing pole, and Pantera's DVD was far too advanced for us. Together we trained and worked really hard to develop new moves. They were ground breaking.
I remember doing a cross ankle invert for the first time and people were gobsmacked. We were on new uncharted territory. I look now at what polers are creating and I giggle as what we were creating is so tame in comparison, but as we were the first as far as we were concerned in the global, commercial sense, what we were doing was revolutionary and extremely ground breaking.
What inspired you to start your Poleexercise company?
I was sick of the gym. I wanted an exercise which was fun, exciting and you could work out in the comfort of your own home. My pole school in York is still running (it is linked to the university).
I now teach workshops from time to time, but I am much more in the world of developing projects and communities for the pole world. I launched the poledancedictionary.com and thecircusdictionary.com a few years ago, and have a range of PoleExercise DVDs.
I also filmed and produced my first feature film, called Blood, Sweat and Hot Pants and this was released last year. All of these are available to buy on our website.
Having to learn from scratch and pave your own pathway in the world of pole dance, what has been the most challenging thing for you in your journey?
When I started my first school, the pole world was a very different place. There is still prejudice associated with it, however back then it was worse. The feminist and women’s-liberation groups constantly tried to shut down my school. I had complaints left, right and centre.
It was tough, but I fought hard for the right to exercise and express ourselves in the way we wanted to, and I made the press quite regularly with the fight to have the right to choose. I perceived and the biggest reward was a formal apology by the head of the university to say he supported what we were doing and gave us our blessing.
Do you feel that the sexy, sensual aspect of pole dance can ever be taken away and pole just used for fitness only? Or are the two inseparable?
Pole is what you make it. It can be sexy and sensual. It can be a pure workout with no added frills. I believe you can do pole however or whatever way you want to do it. As long as we are all consenting adults and that if minors are involved, they are not being subjected to anything sexual, then pole is about expression. I believe we have the right to move and express ourselves in the way we feel fit.
You’ve created several quality pole products. Does you have any new products coming out?
Currently the brand is focused on the development of the poledancedictionary.com brand. Our next step is to release user uploads, allowing the community to share their own pole moves onto the site. We've just launched apps which users can buy to support our work and hopefully ensure we can channel more resources into developing the websites further.
How did you start the Pole Dance dictionary? What was your intention with it? It is an incredible resource.
Thank you. It was a natural progression for my company after the success of our DVDs which are still sold around the world. I wanted to have a free resource for polers around the world and to give the community something back.
We have over 300,000 unique visitors every month to the site and it's growing by the day. I'm hoping that the sales from the smart phone apps we have just launched will allow us to spend more money and put new features and resources into the dictionaries.
You also have the PoleExercise DVD series...how did these come about? Are these for beginners or advanced tricksters?
As I said earlier when I started there was just one DVD, which although great, was too difficult for any beginner. So I released PoleExercise DVD 1 back in 2006 - it has over 60 moves and is aimed at beginners through to advanced pole dancers. It’s very basic and budget in its visual, but it’s still our best-seller!
We released PoleExercise DVD 2 in 2010 and this had an intensive stretching section, around 20 intermediate to advanced moved and routines. Then in 2012 we launched DVD 3 which had another 60 moves ranging from beginner to advanced. You can buy them all from poleexercise.co.uk and I'd love you to review them and share them on your site!
Wonderful! I will do that…What about Hot Pulse DVD, I liked the trailer...was this designed to be used in conjunction with our pole dance training?
Hot Pulse is all about finding your inner sex goddess! Lots of my students asked me about body wave, or ways to isolate their bodies. So Hot Pulse was born, aimed at women (or men!) who want to workout with a sexy side. No pole needed! :)
(Here is a clip from the DVD)
Your LuLu Mat has some pretty good reviews, and with the added feature of being able to walk on it in heels, it’s popular. Tell us more about it and what makes it different from other crash mats.
Pole is dangerous. Too many people have escaped near misses and I believe that people should invest in their safety when they buy a pole. I think it should be a standardized form to buy a pole and a mat together, like wearing a crash helmet when you ride a motorbike.
However safety is not cheap. Good motorbike clothes will save your life. Having a crash mat might save your neck if you fall. For me it’s a no brainer (no pun intended). Our Lulu Mat range is made completely in the UK. They are hand made to order. They are not cheap, but then who can put a price on your spine? It is aimed at a person who wants to take safety seriously. We do not cut corners and use cheap foam or mass produce in China. We follow the UK health and safety laws.
The mats are epic. We have a firm surface for walking on even with heels and then you can flip the bigger mats and get a softer, squidgier side for landings. We have growing followers and orders each month and I do hope people will invest in their safety.
I know you are no novice to acting, looking at your long list of film roles. Tell us more about how "Blood Sweat and Hot Pants" came about and how we can get a copy of it.
My knowledge and skills with TV/Film production through the DVDs I produced and directed led me to decide I wanted to film and document a documentary about the pole world. I wanted to portray the fitness side of the industry as too many documentaries just focus on the seedy side.
It took a year to produce from start to finish and around £20,000K of my own companies budget that I invested into the making of it. It was launched last year. You can download your own copy here: http://www.poleexercise.co.uk/product/blood-sweat-and-hotpants
(Here is a clip from the film)
What advice would you give to a beginning pole student who is struggling with holding herself up on the pole?
Don't give up! The hardest thing in pole is your first invert! Find yourself a good teacher, or get yourself a good crash mat and then take a leap of faith. The more you push yourself and believe in yourself the more you will achieve in life. Dry your hands, wipe the sweat from your brow, focus and be brave! Obviously this advice is to someone who is ready to attempt exercise and you should get the o.k. from your Doctor before you attempt any new exercises.
What advice would you give to those who are already doing advanced tricks?
Cross train! Too many polers think that pole is the only answer. Sadly if you don't cross train you won't get stronger and you won't prevent injuries. A serious athlete should cross train in different areas, both strength and cardio and you should have regular massage and physio. Treat your body with respect and know that pole is an aggressive sport and you should care for your body to prevent injury in the long run,
Thank you for creating and sharing these products with us. You have accomplished quite a bit in your career - acting, music, fitness, founding companies, directing films…do you have any new personal goals?
Personal goals? Well I'm always setting them and they change daily. Sometimes it’s just to get to the bottom of my inbox which might have 400 emails waiting for me in the morning, sometimes it’s a physical or mental challenge.
I've just coming to the end of completely my 600 hours of Classical Pilates Instructor training which I hope to teach in the next chapter of my life. My businesses are developing and I founded a new consultancy company in October 2013. Life is good, busy, but good!
How can we follow Poleexercise and yourself?
To learn more about the LuLu Mat, click here.
To read more about Lucy Misch, her businesses and her acting career check out her website: www.lucychallenger.com