Interview with Miki:
When Miki started doing pole nearly 7 years ago, she wasn’t in peak physical condition. Just a few years prior she had been forced into early retirement by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. As a trauma nurse, she was used to adrenaline and activity being a big part of her life. She struggled with depression when she had to let go of her beloved career. “To go from working every day to retired is quite the blow,” she says. When physical therapy had reached its limits, she turned to dance, specifically pole dance at Lady Katherine’s in Hudson, WI.
At her first beginner’s class, she was struck by the inclusion of the sport. “There were other women in the class that were older than myself, like almost in their seventies,” says Miki. “And there were women in the class that were in altered conditions like myself, but their own altered conditions. When you look over and you see a woman that’s thirty years older than you kicking your ass, it kind of motivates you. I cannot let this little old lady kick my ass!”
In the habit of proving doctors wrong, Miki went into pole with an attitude ready to conquer and it has worked wonders for her. Miki says, “It’s far better than physical therapy because physical therapy only addresses the injury at that point. It, at the same time, ignores the rest of the body whereas pole touches every point of your body there is.” She still has a wheelchair, but she can refuse to use it most of the time. She’s in the studio three or more times a week for at least an hour at a time. She gets her hands on a pole every day to keep them from locking up. “It breaks the joints loose. It hurts like hell to do it, but us polers are kind of crazy,” she says.
A big part of her ability to work through the pain is the people she has at the studio. “Those are the only people in the world that are man enough to tell me to ‘Suck it up, cupcake. You know it’s gonna hurt, just do it.’” She recalls the “instant acceptance, and love, and the sisterhood” of her first class and that feeling has not waned. She loves training, especially sharing it with others in the studio. When asked about her favorite part of it, she says, “Going about our journey together. I love it all, except for maybe sit ups.”
Pole has changed Miki in ways more than physical. A tomboy growing up with her nine foster brothers, she was never the type to go for shoes or being pretty. “If you had said I was going to have a shoe collection ten years ago, I’d have said you’re absolutely out of your mind. Here I am and I have make-up too,” she says. “I detested all of my life being a girl because girls are weak, and they’re beaten, and they’re violated…. Being in pole has brought me to a point where I’m comfortable with being a girl. I’m not used to it but I’m gettin’ there. I even bought a purse.”
Miki’s goals are simple: Keep getting stronger and include her family in her beloved sport. Her youngest daughter suffered from hearing problems all her life but recently had a surgery and was fitted with a hearing aid. After bringing her to the LOL Pole Festival, Miki’s daughter was hooked. She walked right up to Myss Angie and asked how old competitors needed to be. Miki says of her daughter, “The self-confidence she gets from poling has been huge in bringing her out to a hearing society.” Her children have been going to circus camp for years and while their living room lacks standard furniture, it has a hoop, silks, and a pole. “Essentially our living room is a three-ring circus,” she says. Her home fits her philosophy: “Life is just better when you’re upside down.”
Article by Sara Wielenberg,