Before pics taken November 2010. After images taken October 2011

Annie Berry, Instructor

Hi, I’m Annie Berry, I’ve been practicing pole dance for 7+ years, and teaching for 5+.

I grew up in Saint George and Washington Utah.  I have a natural love of staying active and I grew up hiking and camping with my family in Southern Utah.  Ever since my grandma took me to see The Nutcracker Suite ballet when I was little, I wanted to be a dancer and would choreograph little dance numbers for my sister and cousins to perform for our parents.  I had friends who were in tumbling classes and some taught me cartwheels and backflips on their trampoline, which I loved.  The only dance class I ever took pre-pole was a dance class for P.E. credit in high school, and I was probably horrible, but I ate it up.

Fast forward to adulthood after I had my first baby.  At the time there weren’t any adult beginner dance classes offered in St. George. I would regularly scour youtube for yoga, dance, and stretching videos.  When I stumbled across pole dance videos on youtube, I instantly fell in love with the dance and acrobatics involved.  In 2009 I ordered a pole and started practicing in my living room.

There were no pole dance classes in town so I did the best I could learning from youtube tutorials, and DVDs.  Although I started out self-taught, I eventually started driving to Las Vegas for classes.  After giving birth to my youngest child I started all over building strength and eventually started going to Las Vegas to classes again.  To date, I’ve attended Pole Expo in Las Vegas every year since it’s inception in 2012 to learn from international pole competitors and performers Zoraya (and her trainer/husband Nic Judd), Nadia Sharif, David Owen, Steven Retchless, Josiah Grant, Bendy Kate, Charlie Wagner, Karol Helms, Marlo Fisken, Michula Nunez, and Veena (of StudioVeena.com).

I consider staying active to be the greatest recreation there is.  My other loves include hula-hoop dancing, backpacking, and trail running.  I also love camping and hiking with my Husband David, and our daughters Madalynn(13), and Ailee Mae (6).

Instructor Q & A

  • What got you interested in pole dance?

    I love being active, but I’ve never been very coordinated.  For a long time I went running or did pilates to stay fit, and didn’t do much else.  I’ve always loved watching gymnastics and dance and wanted to be involved in them as a kid but never had the opportunity.  As an adult, I was still interested, but there aren’t many adult classes that teach beginning skills for those things.  In my search I came across a pole dance practice video of TaraKarina on youtube.  I thought she was so graceful and I knew when I saw her doing a carousel spin I had to try it.  It wasn’t until years later that I finally did.  When I ordered my pole and set it up in my living room it was like Chrismas.  I played on that thing till I got blisters because I was having too much fun to take it slow.  I now realize pole dance challenges every aspect of fitness that I want to improve in: strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility.  I have never been so strong in my life.

  • There’s been a push within the pole dance community to get pole dance into the olympics. What’s your opinion on this?

    From what I understand, the reason pole dancers have been pushing for it as an olympic sport is to legitimize it.  I don’t see a need for it to go to the olympics.  For the people who practice it, it’s another amazing form of dance that uses an apparatus, and is practiced in aerial arts studios and circus arts studios as well as dedicated pole dance studios.  It’s going to take time and exposure for the public’s perception to catch up.  Much like bellydance used to be considered taboo but is now seen at family friendly functions, I think pole dance will also become more accepted.

  • Pole dance purists want to keep the sexy in pole dance, what are your feelings on this?

    I don’t think it’s possible to take it out!  Even the pole tricksters that only focus on stunts have that element to them because they’re confident and strong at what they do.  The sexiness has always been a fun part of pole dance, but in recent years it has branched out and become much more multi-dimensional.  I don’t think that takes away from the dance at all, just adds to it.

  • Your husband must love the fact that you pole dance, right?

    I get that a lot!  But really, it’s all about me.  He benefits from it because it’s something I love that keeps me from going insane at the end of a long day with the kids, and I’m not gonna say I’ve never done a little dance for him, but that’s more like a pleasant side effect than the focus for me.  You have to love yourself first.

  • Why do you think pole dance has become so popular?

    It’s one of those novelty things so many women want to try just to say they have, and then realize how fun and challenging it is and decide to stick with it.  Come for the fun, stay for the workout.

  • Pole dance looks acrobatic, can anyone do it?

    Pole dance is a performance art, and it can be high impact on your upper body.  If you have any special medical restrictions it’s helpful to get clearance from your doctor.  Otherwise, as long as you take it one step at a time and stay consistent you will improve and be doing things you never thought possible.  When I started I actually never thought I’d be doing inversions, and now here I am.  Keep in mind that some things you might get right off, other tricks may take a few lessons before you nail it, but that feeling you get when you do will keep you coming back.  If you need inspiration, just look to social media for examples of many women (and men) of all shapes, sizes, and ages, doing their thing, whether their style is graceful, masculine, athletic, sexy, artistic, or strong.  You don’t have to fit any stereotype and you can develop your own style.

  • What is your favorite part about pole dance/fitness?

    Defying gravity!  I’ve always been intrigued by graceful feats of athleticism in any sport whether it was gymnastics, soccer, ballet etc.  So seeing these crazy stunts being done and then actually being able to build strength and do them myself is so addicting.  I love the dance aspect of it as well.

  • What was your biggest hurdle in learning to pole dance?

    Grip!  Everyone struggles with grip issues starting out.  If you have too little friction you slip right off the pole, if you have too much friction you stop mid-spin.  With beginning moves it’s not as big of a deal, but when you start practicing spins over and over it is possible to get blisters.   Then when trying any move where your body contacts to pole to hold you up, it hurts like crazy the first few times until your skin gets used to it.

  • Favorite spin?

    All the variations of the reverse grab.  It feels like floating.

  • Most recent move learned?

    I finally nailed the shoulder mount and handspring mount!  When I first started practicing pole fitness I never thought I’d get to this level.  I’ve learned that my limitations were in my head, and as long as I’m trying new things, my body will steadily become stronger and work up to the challenge.

  • Most elusive trick?

    I’m working on increasing my strength for aerial inversions.  Also anything involving splits.  I’m still working on my flexibility!

  • What’s the biggest change in your body that you’ve seen since you started pole dancing?

    My upper body strength and muscle tone actually exist now!  That’s something I really neglected before pole dance.