STAMFORD, Conn. — For Ashley Popoli, a new studio space near Harbor Point in Stamford allows her students to soar higher and higher.
Popoli is owner of Stamford’s Vertical Addiction, a pole fitness and aerial arts studio. The expansive new space in a historic building has the most important feature for an aerial arts studio — high ceilings.
“The space is actually allowing us to expand our class offerings.” Popoli said. “In aerial arts, it’s so important to have the ceiling high to be able to learn and grow."
Popoli, who moved the studio from High Ridge Road, said her new space has a ceiling high of 13 feet — 3 feet greater than the old space.
With the extra height, Popoli can now offer classes using silks in her new space, for example. The silks allow students to wrap themselves in two pieces of fabric that drape from the ceiling and offer a truly vertical workout.
And, of course, there’s the pole workouts. While her largest group of clients are young professional women ages 25 to 35 and moms 35 to 45, people of all ages are trying pole fitness.
Pole fitness is gaining in popularity and attention. An Advil Super Bowl commercial included a scene in which a male pole athlete did a workout. The Oscars had women in silk hammocks.
“Aerial arts is getting a lot of attention,” Popoli said. “We’re out there.”
Some students come into her studio wanting to become competitive in pole fitness like Popoli, who is a decorated pole fitness competitor. Others simply want to get a workout.
“More and more people are loving it,” she said.
But Popoli said there’s a misconception that students can simply walk into the studio and immediately pick up the skills needed to excel. They can’t.
“It’s a sport, and you’re going to have to work at it,” Popoli said. Like any sport, pole fitness starts with the fundamentals that students need to grasp before learning more advanced techniques.
The classes can be grueling, even for her and her five certified instructors, Popoli said. The warmup not only serves the students, but also helps the instructors loosen up since they have to demonstrate the lessons.
“Every time I teach, it’s like I’m taking a class as well,” Popoli said.
Yes, of course, there are stereotypes around pole fitness. But she challenges prospective athletes to think otherwise and simply try a class.
“Once you take it, you realize those stereotypes are so far from the truth,” Popoli said.
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