Interview by Sara LW Schreiber
Three years ago, Erin took a business card from a pole studio owner at the Fourth of July parade. Erin’s fitness journey since having kids had grown boring and pole fitness seemed like a fun new way to move. With no dance experience and two half-marathons under her belt, Erin bought a Groupon for classes at Carousel Pole Fitness in Hudson, WI. After just an hour and a half, she was in. All the strength she had built in her workouts was finally being put to use.
She hasn’t left behind her other training. Instead, she uses her strength-training program to build her pole skills. “I love watching how that translates into what I can accomplish on the pole,” says Erin. But now, she can’t listen to music without imagining the perfect pole move to go with a certain lyric. Thanks to her drive to match moves to music, Erin began competing last. She starts with what moves she wants to do and relies on coaches and pole friends to help her fill in the gaps. The Minnesota Pole Competitions (MNPC) in September will be her third competition, and she’s learning more about herself with each one.
Her first competition was PSO Great Lakes where she took home a silver medal for her piece in the dramatic category. That experience taught her that although the dramatic category isn’t for her, she loves the stage. She was surprised to learn that being onstage made her so happy, especially since everyone backstage was showing their jitters. Erin says, “While I did have some nerves just because I was going to compete on a stage in an event I had never done before, much less been on a stage before, I just embraced it. I really enjoyed being on stage and I really enjoyed performing.” Erin says her nerves hit their peak around three to four weeks before competition when nothing’s quite right yet, but once she gets on the stage, she’s just happy.
Her routine for MNPC in September is a tweaked version of the piece she did in May for PSO Central. Knowing how she struggles to connect with the music and the audience in the dramatic category, Erin has chosen to compete in Sport at the Intermediate level. Her piece is focused on a theme of strength and the music comes from the soundtrack to The Eternals, a Marvel superhero movie. “You listen to the music and you just know it’s a superhero, good-conquers-evil type of movie,” says Erin, “so that’s what I really try to channel when I’m performing it: look how strong you can be and how beautiful this movement can be.” The feedback from her test audiences has shown that her message is coming through. They say she looks strong and fierce.
This message of strength and beauty means a lot to Erin. “Pole is the first thing I’ve found that doesn’t have me constantly doubting myself or worrying about what other people are thinking about me. I can just go out there and I am so proud to be able to move my body and show my kids you can do whatever you want. Strength comes in every size and beauty is in every size…It’s just such a freeing feeling when you can finally let go of all that self-conscious thought and just be like, ‘Wow, I am so strong, I am such a badass right now.’”
Erin is excited to take the MNPC stage in September with this piece and her competitive nature has her hoping for a win. Regardless, she knows that she always brings her best to the stage, and her family (though it took convincing for some) are all proud supporters. Her favorite competition video is the one her mom took of her in May at PSO Central. Although the video quality is poor, she can hear her mother’s reactions to her performance and the pride is unmistakable.
Erin’s goals include passing the lessons she’s learned from pole on to future students as a teacher. She’s already begun sharing the passion with her seven-year-old daughter, Anya. Anya began formal classes at the studio this summer, and mother and daughter have hopes of showing an exhibition at the Land of Lakes Pole Fest in addition to Erin’s competition piece. Last year, Anya challenged her mom to an impromptu dance-off on Erin’s home pole. “She’d do one of her fancy moves and then she’d give me the side-eye like, ‘Whatcha got, Mom?’” Based on that, they’re hoping to perform to “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” from the musical, Annie Get Your Gun. While Anya is the master of the freestyle, Erin takes comfort in knowing that their coach, Emmy, is there to thoroughly choreograph Erin’s side of the dance.
Erin is slowly taking over teaching the intro course at Carousel. “It’s a lot of fun working with new folks…and watching them get their first couple successes on the pole. It’s really inspiring,” Erin says. She wants to be an example as a teacher, showing students that you don’t need a dance or sports background to try pole. “Being able to do some of the things I can do…” Erin says, “I never imagined.”
You can follow Erin on Instagram: @pole.erin