Two Calgarian women gear up to compete on the national pole-dancing stage

Pole4The world of competitive pole dancing is quickly dispelling any negative stereotypes and is becoming a high-level sport throughout the world. Athletes are now competing at the national and international levels.

Calgarians Lisa Corah and Monika Deviat are among the top competitive pole dancers in Canada and will be heading to Ontario in October to compete nationally.

The sport of pole dancing focuses on core fitness, choreography and overall presentation. There is a panel of judges that scores the dancer's performance.

The Canadian Pole Fitness Association (CPFA) Alberta Pole Fitness Championships took place on Sep.7 in Calgary with Corah and Deviat finishing first in their respective divisions.

Deviat won the professional division and Corah took home first in the semi-professional division. The higher the division, the more advanced tricks and transitions are required.

Where it all started

Corah and Deviat fell into the sport of pole dancing several years ago and haven't looked back.

"I started about three years ago. I couldn't sit behind a desk anymore and needed something new," Corah said. "I wanted to try something different and I thought it was really fun, and it just never stopped from there."

Deviat, 28, started competitive pole dancing about five years ago when she was graduating from university.Pole2Monika Deviat shows off her pole dance talents at Strut Fitness where she trains for competition at the Canadian Pole Fitness Championships.

Photo by Courtney Urbani

"I was finishing up my physics degree and a friend of mine convinced me to take a pole dancing class and I kind of just fell in love with it," she said.

The training process

Fitness is essential to pole dancing as the women train about four times a week at Strut Fitness and Dance in Calgary. In addition, intense training comes with plenty of stretching and physiotherapy to reduce any injury.

Sheryl Walsh, manager and trainer at Strut Fitness and Dance, has been working with Corah and Deviat to get them in top shape for the Canadian championships.

"I opened this place up as somewhere for these ladies to train and I'm very excited and proud now that they both finished first in their division and get to move on," Walsh said.

On top of heavy training, Deviat works at an oil and gas company during the day while also training with aerial straps and doing heavy metal concert photography.

Corah, 24, is also very busy teaching aerial yoga and working on getting her certificate to teach hot yoga.

Competition time

Corah said the Alberta competition was nerve-racking, but enjoyed the chance to show off her intense training results.

"I was quite nervous, but it was exciting. I like to take any opportunity to push my boundaries. It was a great chance to show people what I've been working on."

Both athletes are training to be competition-ready for the CPFA Championships taking place in Mississauga, Ont. on Oct. 5th and 6th.Pole1Calgarians Monika Deviat, left, and Lisa Corah gear up for the Canadian Pole Fitness Championships in Mississauga, Ont. on Oct. 5 and 6.

Photo by Courtney Urbani

"Me and Monika work really well together. It's good knowing there's going to be a friend going with me. It's another great learning experience," Corah said. "It'll be nice to see everybody's skill level throughout Canada and hopefully it will open up doors to meet others and maybe train with them."

Dancers have two poles to work with on stage. One pole is stationary and the second spins in order to complete certain moves. Dancers are expected to use both poles in their routine.

A sport for everyone

Walsh says pole dancing can be for anyone who is willing to try. Strut Fitness and Dance offers many classes at different levels to get women started in pole dancing, as well as burlesque dancing and fitness boot camps.

Both Corah and Deviat urge other women to give pole dancing a try, even though it might be a bit intimidating at first.

"Just give it a try. There's nothing to lose and everything to gain," Corah said. "You learn a lot about who you are and how far you can push yourself and your comfort level. It's a good community to be in and the girls are really supportive."

Deviat added, "It's like any type of sport. If you want to get good at it, you have to put a lot of time into it and it will pay off."

The winners from the Canadian championships will then move on to compete at the international level.

Strut Fitness and Dance is located on 16th Avenue N.W. and all women who are interested are encouraged to try a class.

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