Story by Leah Shapiro
DANCECLUB Asheville Promotes Empowerment Through Movement
A dancer since age three and personal trainer since 2002, Kathleen Hahn says she has always gravitated toward physical activities that require grace and strength. Yet, when she attended her first pole fitness in New York City, she didn’t realize how addicted she would get.
In October 2014, Kathleen moved from Asheville to New York, hoping to go deeper in a range of dance styles. At the time, she had lived in Asheville for five years and regularly taught classes, such as jazz/funk and flash mob dances, above Loretta’s Café. “I really missed teaching while I was in New York. I was teaching a little bit at the pole dance studio, but not in the same capacity as when I was here.” She earned three certifications through New York Pole Dancing, and returned to Asheville this past February with the idea of opening her own dance studio.
Last month, Kathleen officially launched DANCECLUB Asheville. Her hope is to encourage uninhibited dancing in an environment free of intimidation. Half of the studio is dedicated to pole fitness and the other caters to a range of classes, from burlesque and jazz to modern and exercise dance.
“I think people are drawn to pole fitness because it encompasses so much,” says Kathleen. “It’s fun. It’s playful…But it also builds strength, which I think is the most empowering thing about it.”
The technique focuses heavily on upper body and core strength. Dancers will kick a leg around or use their body weight to push themselves. “You’re using the momentum to your advantage, to make it smooth so that you don’t tire yourself out,” says Kathleen. “There is a good amount of science involved.” She says many pole dancers have gymnast backgrounds.
But she quickly adds that you don’t have to be an athlete to give it a try. “I think everyone should feel welcome in a pole class,” says Kathleen. “It’s just like any other skill: You start at the beginning.”
One of the many classes offered focuses on flexibility. Instructor Lucy Howard teaches the class on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and Kathleen on Saturday at 10 a.m. Folks can drop in to single classes, but sign-up is encouraged. It’s recommended that attendees wear shorts that hit at least two inches above the knee. Kathleen had a recent conversation with a yoga instructor friend who told her that so many potential students said they weren’t strong enough or flexible enough to take a yoga class.
Kathleen had heard the same reasoning from others about pole. Their replies were the same: But that’s exactly why you do it. You don’t have to flip upside down if you don’t want to, says Kathleen. “There’s so much you can do.”
On Thursday, June 23, at 4 p.m., everyone is invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. Refreshments are followed by a dance party.
DANCECLUB Asheville is located at 9 Old Burnsville Hill Road, Suite 3, in Asheville. For more information, visit danceclubasheville.com or call 828.275.8628.