One of the many unfortunate aspects that the covid-19 pandemic has brought about is the need for distancing, and with that have been fewer opportunities to communicate. Thankfully the pole industry, in my humble opinion, has done a pretty good job of staying connected. And though studios and pole businesses have reopened and resumed, many aspects of the pole industry are still being worked out and many pole businesses are still adapting to the effects of covid-19. This being the case, I thought it would be helpful to students and clients of pole to learn what a few of the industry’s leaders want them to know. Sharing with me are Colleen Jolly, pole instructor, competitor, and owner and founder of both the International Pole Convention and the International Pole Industry Association; Dakota Fox, co-owner and instructor of Aradia Fitness; and Natalya Nightshade, instructor, performer, and owner and founder of Nightshade Designs and the Nocturnal Pole Show.
Q: What’s something you would like your customers/clients/students to know?
Colleen: “Behind every small business is a real person. And that real person is staring at their computer all day trying to make sense of the world and how to keep their dream and the dreams of their customers alive. Be kind to everyone right now—it’s free.”
Simple but true advice. Being thoughtful and considerate is something we should always try to do but in the middle and in the aftermath of a pandemic, being kind means a lot as Colleen points out. Being patient and adapting as a client/student also goes a long way as Dakota explains.
Dakota: “The clients and pole & aerial studios world-wide are what make each studio so very special. The most important takeaway is to continue having patience & understanding. Your pole studio owner(s) are navigating the biggest business challenge they may ever face. Each & every decision they make will be deeply thought out and made out of necessity. Prices may increase, class offerings & class schedules may change… but your flexibility & support is literally what keeps your pole home alive. Things are going to be very different, but different isn’t always bad!”
As Dakota points out, good things can come about from change. And though a lot of polers and business owners have been forced to make these changes, the benefits that they have been able to provide to their clients/customers has been amazing. Take pole competitions/events, for example. Though many of us want to be on stage to compete/perform, bringing these events online have provided a way for many polers to do something that otherwise they may not have been able to afford, or felt comfortable enough to do, even without the pandemic. Another pro that Natalya points out has been the push to take time for yourself and rest, a chance to pause.
Natalya: “Be kind to yourself. With so much time spent in solitude these days, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are in the midst of a global crisis. I’m exceptionally hard on myself, and I work well under pressure so I’ve been known to push myself to my limits on a regular basis. This pandemic has forced me to slow down and practice being kinder to myself and my body. There was a point where I was dancing 13+ hours a week in addition to everything else I do, so I’ve been allowing myself more rest and not beating myself up about taking a day off work and binging Dead To Me, or losing a bit of muscle tone, or gaining a bit of weight due to being less active than usual. “It is what it is” has basically been my quarantine motto.”
Like Natalya, I hope all of you have been at least a little bit easier on yourselves. And I know for many people, especially essential workers, the pandemic has forced you to work harder than you’ve ever had to. I hear from many people, in all types of industries, that they feel their efforts over this past year feel thwarted. For some this may be because the pandemic has forced you to stop working altogether and for others it has meant working overtime and leaving little room for other things (like pole) that also require your attention. Regardless of what your personal situation has been this year, I hope we can all learn from each other: be kind to others, be patient and willing to accept change, and be kind to yourself.