PHOTOS Emma Marshall

Dancer Nikki Zachariou is credited with bringing mainstream pole dancing to Jersey as a fun way for women to keep fit and increase their confidence. Having taught classes through her dance company, UberEdge, for nearly ten years now she’s learnt a thing or two about what it means to be a leading lady in her industry.

So Nikki, what was it that attracted you to the pole?

I’ve been dancing for years and when I was studying to become a dance and fitness instructor, the pamphlet for pole dancing literally fell out onto my lap! I thought yeah, what a great way to mix up fitness and dancing and bring something new to the Island. 

Is it as hard to do as it looks?

I can’t lie, when I first bought a pole after signing up for my training I was terrified to discover I couldn’t actually pole dance. It does require a lot of strength to do the more advanced moves, but I think most would be surprised how fast this builds up. By practising just 20 minutes a day I was able to achieve the basic tricks and spins quickly. There’s no requirement to be able to lift your own weight though, its something anyone can do.

Why do you think it’s become so popular?

It’s showcased a lot through Instagram and social media, and I think this gets people inspired to give it a go or to further their skills. It’s a fantastic way to increase your self-confidence. We work hard to ensure our classes are completely judgement free so that you can relax and feel safe to explore your capabilities.

Can anyone do it?

Absolutely, but I currently only teach classes to women. I wanted to create a safe environment where my students can be as expressive as they like without feeling self-conscious and that’s difficult to achieve in a mixed class. I’d be open to teaching a male class if they were serious about learning the skill. We teach people of every shape and size though, it’s not an exercise reserved only for slim girls as most people think. We cater for all levels and our classes include women aged 18-50, we even have our own pole dancing female priest! It builds your core and upper body strength whilst being gentle on your body if you have lower body joint aliments. It’s always a great work out!

So would I need to take my clothes off?

No, whilst the class is a balance between sensuality and physical fitness, it isn’t training you to become a stripper! The students enjoy the more erotic moves on the pole as much as the physically demanding ones, but I think that’s more to do with embracing the many levels of what it means to be a woman. We also teach hen parties which can get a little more raucous, but it’s all just good clean fun.

What has pole dancing taught you?

Self-belief and acceptance and this is what I aim to pass on in my teachings. To assure women that there’s nothing scary about pole dancing and that they would never be made to do anything they didn’t feel comfortable with. Women are such multi-faceted creatures, we can be strong, vulnerable, disciplined or fragile. Pole dancing lets you embrace all this as well as being a bonding experience that provides you with friends for life.