Featured PDC Approved 3 star Pole Instructor Michelle Birks.
We spoke to Michelle Birks from Polercise Tenerife to find out about her journey into the fabulous world of pole.
After going to my first pole class, a little over five years ago, I would never in my wildest dreams have dreamt that I would be here now – a grade five, three star approved instructor!
I went to my first class at Polercise in Tenerife a few months after I had moved to the island, more than anything because I was intensely lonely – I was a non-drinking, non-working housewife. I had time on my hands and knew no one. As a 44 year old mum, who had done nothing to keep fit since I was a teenager, I went to that first class feeling more than a little nervous and self-conscious – and not without reason! As we started to do the warm up, my total lack of fitness soon became apparent, and I was unable to even complete the thorough, but relatively easy warm up. However, my instructor, Stefania Roberto, seemed to take it all in her stride and she continued the class at a pace – or should I say at a snail’s pace – to suit me, and at the end of the class she even managed to act like my total lack of fitness, co-ordination, flexibility and ability were all totally normal. She said she looked forward to seeing me again soon! She had managed to stop me from feeling hopelessly inadequate and embarrassed, and her encouragement actually made me feel good about myself.
Since that first class she has subsequently admitted that I was without question the most unfit and least able student who has ever attended any of her classes, but her positivity and the fact that she treated me like I was no different to any other beginner, was what kept me coming back for more. I could start to see the improvements after just a few classes, and the excitement of achieving new moves and spins kept me working harder and harder.
I qualified as an instructor just a couple of years later, and have been privileged to be part of the Polercise team ever since. The fact that I have struggled with everything from basic co-ordination and flexibility, to stamina and fitness levels, has helped me greatly to understand the difficulties experienced by other students and how to break down moves, spins and combinations into achievable chunks according to the ability of each individual student. Here in Tenerife we also have the added challenge of teaching students of many different nationalities, who often speak little or no English/Spanish.
Unfortunately, there are no competitions up and running in the Canary Islands yet, but I am sure that is soon set to change. I have been lucky enough to attend Masterclasses with both Saulo Sarmiento, World Pole Art Champion and Spanish Champion, Vane Lunatica. Additionally, my instructor, Stefania, is not only an incredible pole artist, but is currently training as the Master Instructor for Europe with the World Pole Dance Fitness Association. I have also trained for six months with Tracey Ecclestone – Author of Pole 101 Handbooks, International Judge, owner of SW Australia Pole Competition, and Master Tutor for IPDFA Australia.
The Polercise brand has now become international with studios in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Dubai and Australia, but despite this, still retains an intimate feel, with an emphasis on providing a professional and safe, but affordable and friendly environment for its students. I have loved every minute of my incredible journey with them!