It was 2008, I was a junior in college, studying for my degree in Mathematics. My plans involved working for NASA, and staying in the Bay Area and living a nerdy lifestyle. At the time, I worked as a math tutor for high school students and my coworker asked if I would accompany her to a local studio that offered pole dancing classes. Wanting to befriend and impress her I obliged begrudgingly. What could I lose right? It could be fun, maybe?
I drove to the complex which was in this huge industrial lot with trucks, garage doors, just right over the train tracks. I started to get terrified, scared, worried. This wasn't me, I wasn't "sexy", I wasn't in tune with or liked my body at all for that matter. Why the fuck was I HERE! I called the studio, half crying telling them I couldn't find the spot and to just cancel my class and take my money I couldn't do it. The instructor on the phone came out of the building still talking to me, found me and told me to come inside.
At the time, I was in a terrible relationship with no love, I was overweight, I didn't exercise or take care of myself and my self-image was at an all time low. After that first class, I left feeling like I could conquer the world. Every woman in there was there working on herself, cheering on everyone around her and celebrating even the smallest feat. I found a community that allowed myself to be free, open, and leave the outside worries of the world outside of that studio door. I fell in love with myself and with what pole did for me that years of therapy couldn't.
In that first six months I dropped out of college, I started getting in shape, attending the studio a few times a week and decided to follow in my mothers footsteps and become a personal trainer. After months of study and practice I passed, eventually started working for a local gym and over the years I built my resume with many more certifications such as my Corrective Exercise, Pre/Post Natal, Group Fitness and many more. The idea of exercise as a way of handling and dealing with my life became what I needed to express myself in this world. All of the trauma I endured as a child and teenager somehow was able to be processed as I spun around that pole and let myself loose.
The pure passion, body acceptance, and camaraderie I found through the pole community is something I felt deep down and embodied. I wanted to share it with the world. I wanted both women and men to experience what it felt like to just let yourself play and let go. With weightloss or fitting into a smaller pair of jeans as a secondary thing.
So when I moved up here to Bend after spending many years developing my talent in California, I decided it was time. We would sit, we would gather, and wait for the right time to build the pole community I always wanted to share. Altius had been a name I had kept close to my heart since 2010 when I learned of the olympic motto. Fly Higher, I thought. We can fly higher together. We can come in here, be vulnerable, leave all of the things going on in our life outside of that door, come in here, and DANCE. We can support each other after not seeing each other after almost a year. We can shake off the anger, the self-hate, the yucky stuff we carry around all of the time.
And here we are.