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4. Covid-19 and The Pole Industry: Part 4
Nearly a year has passed since Covid-19 broke out in the U.S. and we are still continuing many of the adaptive measures taken. So with that in mind, what will the pole industry look like in the future? What should students, clients, and customers expect? Sharing their view with me is Colleen Jolly, founder and owner of the International Pole Convention and the International Pole Industry Association, performer, and pole instructor; Dakota Fox, co-owner and pole instructor of Aradia Fitness; Natalya Nightshade, owner and founder of Nightshade Designs and the Nocturnelle Pole Show, pole instructor and performer.
Q: Has the pandemic changed the way you might approach your business or the pole industry in the future? And if so, what should customers/clients expect?
Colleen Jolly: “I think now there will always be a disturbing trend about what is real news versus what is fake news. I think we don’t know who to trust and what’s safe anymore. So, it will be harder as a business to build trust. I do hope we’ll still have some Zoom or other remote classes conducted even when we get back into the studio. My new favorite contortion coach is based in California and it would suck not to be able to take his class regularly! I also think, as noted above, some studios will close and that will force more home polers online to tutorial sites and distance-based classes. I also think unfortunately that pole and other boutique fitness industries will get more classist and elitist. One of my favorite things about pole is that I’ve met people from all walks of life and from all over the world that I would have not otherwise met. So many people losing their jobs and having to focus on feeding their families will take those people away from pole – they won’t have the available funds or time anymore as they rebuild their financial lives. That worries me the most. We need all voices in our community—not just the ones that can afford to be part of our community.”
As Colleen pointed out, the financial strain of Covid-19 will be felt across the pole industry for both businesses and clients, resulting in necessary priority shifts in order to survive. Studios and businesses may need to change the way in which they serve clients and students; and students may be forced to be more selective about how/if they spend their money in regards to pole training and events. This means we may see a change in what’s expected when attending a pole studio as Dakota explains.
Dakota Fox: “…the bigger picture I think is to think small and, more importantly, how to make small just as profitable as before. I say in regards to class sizes & overhead costs. Finding the balance between the two and having a plan of action mapped out now.
As disappointing as it may be, clients should expect a very different studio experience when/if they go back. Class rates may increase, but that is likely because class sizes will be operating at 25%-50% of normal capacity. Your studio will have health & sanitation rules (mask wearing, no contact classes, temperature checks, etc) that, while mildly inconvenient, are what will allow your studio to comply with government regulations. Even more importantly, the new policies will be designed to keep you, your classmates, and your instructors safe.”
As Dakota explained, attending a pole studio may be a very different experience now than what people were used to a year ago. Even many pole showcases and competitions are still primarily online through either Zoom or Crowdcast. But despite the challenges and compromises that have come with battling Covid-19, many of us are definitely looking to the future for opportunities to connect with the pole community in real life as Natalya explains.
Natalya Nightshade: “…While this has driven me to explore creating online content as far as teaching goes, after the pandemic is over, I fully plan on continuing to travel to perform and workshop as much as I can. Connecting to the community IRL is so fulfilling and important to me and it’s a privilege to get to do so. I’m an extreme introvert, so sometimes it blows my mind that I could travel to just about any state and already have friends there. The pole community is pretty amazing.”
So as studios reopen and students return to class let us all be mindful of a few things. One, this pandemic has certainly created financial strain on many. Maybe you are someone who has been impacted or know someone who has. In any case, let us remember to check in on each other and help one another out when we can. If you see a free training or affordable class, whether on YouTube an Instagram live or whatever, share it with your pole peers. If you have the resources, continue to support your favorite pole dancers and studios so they can continue to offer a safe place to pole. And of course, hang in there; hopefully we will all be seeing each other, safely, in person soon. Until then, stay strong and keep poling.