August 2018 Student of the Month: Zack Grays

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When did you start your pole journey?  I started my pole journey WAAAAAAAYYYY back in 2011 dressed in a long sleeve shirt and basketball shorts. Now I'm hang springing, buckin', twirlin', and inverted half naked all over the place.

Why did you decide to try pole dancing?  I decided to give pole a try at the urging of my best friend/ride or die, Certified Diva, who was super into pole at the time. She had taken me a to a show and I thought it was amazing but I was not moved to try it. I was hella resistant to it because a) I was still just toeing into the world of fitness and all I knew was gyms b) I didn't find it appealing (I know. Ironic) c) Like so much of fitness, I didn't see my body type represented so I did not believe I should be doing it Side bar: Representation matters. And if you don't see yourself, get your ass in there. It means something to you and to someone else (Trust me).

One Thursday night in January of 2011, I finally caved and took a class. I had every intention of never taking another class after my first one. It was hard and everything hurt. Everyone was far more advanced than I and I wasn't finna look the fool. But mama ain't raise no quitter. So I gave it another whirl and here I am!

What do you love most about pole dancing?  Pole and aerial in general has become so embedded into my identity and my core. I'm a pole dancer and aerial artist.... How did that even happen? What I love most about pole and the aerial arts is that it challenges me physically and is the main contributor to the awakening of my body positivity. I have progressed so far, surpassed so many milestones, and squashed so much doubt. I swore I would never climb. Then I climbed...and side climbed. I swore I would NEVER invert. Then I inverted... and aerial inverted.... and HANDSPRINGED! IT CAN BE DONE!

On body positivity, I've always been incredibly confident. On a scale of 1-10, I rate myself a 105! But I have not necessarily always been body positive. The narrative of the fat body as told by our society has always been negative and centered around shame. Pole and aerial created a space where I could dismantle and retell that harmful narrative through the daily slay of my fat body mixed with my off the richter confidence. I'm serving up Glamazon aerial realness with a whole lotta sexy. Get you some!

Why do you love Pole Pressure?  Pole Pressure is EVERYTHING! Pole Pressure was the perfect transition space from my old home at Vertical Joes in Atlanta. I cannot speak any higher of the community, instructors, and quality of education at what I consider my home away from home. I value most the community of support, the relationships I've cultivated, and the quality of the offerings. Fitness is NOT CHEAP and can often feel exclusionary. I am fortunate that not only do I get hella value out of my membership but that Pole Pressure is supportive and feels like home. Pole Pressure is MINE! And I've very protective of that space.

What are some of your goals for this year? OOOOOH! God! I have so many goals.

1- I need to get my split! My going theory is that God and the Universe won't let me have it because I will not know how to act once I get it. But I'm close!!

2- Hold my Iron X (Oh yeah...I can Iron X now) while lip syncing to 'I Will Survive' 3- Learn 3 new aerial tricks by the end of the year.

4- KEEP PUSHING MYSELF TO THE NEXT LEVEL! Ain't nothing great ever come from complacency.

5- DEAR GOD! POINT YOUR TOES AND LIFT INTO THAT INVERT!

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