How did you get involved in pole fitness?
In 2006, my girlfriend took me to an intro class at Sheila Kelley’s S Factor after she saw Sheila interviewed on Oprah. I was 30, living in Los Angeles and working a 9-5 desk job at a PR company. I hadn’t exercised since high school, and was far from the embodiment of health, so I figured I had nothing to lose! I didn’t fall in love with pole immediately. I felt uncoordinated, awkward and the sensual aspect of the movement was completely foreign, but I stuck with it. The emotional changes happened first. The physical transformations quickly followed. And as the years went by, pole evolved and grew to be more of an artistic discipline, which fed that creative side of me I had previously satiated through my first love, writing poetry.
Is it true you started pole dancing with no dance or gymnastics background?
Yes. I subscribe to the philosophy that a performer should always emphasize what they do well, and de-emphasize their deficiencies. Martha Graham said, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” I love to dance and tell a story through movement. I like to believe that enables the audience to overlook that I’m not classically trained, because they “feel”, not just “see”.
What did you do prior to pole dancing full-time?
I was a publicist from 2002-2011 and left my job after I won the USPDF Championships in 2011. I realized I couldn’t both travel the world and have the mental energy to handle client work. It’s not often that one is able to follow their bliss, and make a living doing it, so I took the plunge and never looked back.
What’s your favorite move?
I love planches and tabletops of any kind, in any sort of grip.
How do you get flexible?
I get asked this question all the time, and the answer is simple. The only way to get bendy is to stretch on a regular basis, and do it in a way that is safe and smart. I’m a huge fan of Kristina Neykia from Fit & Bendy. She teaches weekly classes in Los Angeles and hosts workshops all over the world, and has a great DVD series. I’m also an Ambassador for StretchIt, a stretching fitness app that I use in my hotel room whenever I travel. It’s developed by some of the folks who teach at Body & Pole in NYC and is a great substitute for an in-person flexibility class.
What are your tools of the trade? What can’t you live without when pole dancing?
My ‘grip kit’: Heel to Toe Peppermint Foot Sloughing Lotion (rubbed all over the body, it acts as a great grip), Dry Hands, and iTac2 at my contact points. I’ve experimented with lots of different pole grips over the years, but these are my go-to’s, and work the best across climates and pole finishes.
Any hobbies or passions outside of fitness?
I love to travel, eat ethnic foods (in particular Korean, Chinese and Ethiopian), watch documentaries, drink red wine, read, go hiking and collect cat-themed cute things. I also run a cat accessories business with my business partner Arloa Reston called X-Purr. Our products merge the worlds of pole fitness and cats. Right now, we have the X-Purr Pole (freestanding cat scratching post), X-Purr Pole Cleaner (catnip spray), and a line of t-shirts. You can check out X-Purr at http://www.xpurr.com/
What is the best piece of pole-related advice you’ve been given?
Marlo Fisken recommended a book to me while I was training for the USPDF National Championships in 2011 called “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin, which has become my entire training philosophy. The book emphasizes practice, and specifically ‘deliberate practice’ as what separates world-class performers and athletes from everybody else. It’s not about “innate or natural talent,” which may or may not exist, but about how hard a person works that makes the real difference. This is something I remind myself when I spend Saturday night at the pole studio training for my next competition, because being a winner comes at a sacrifice, and oftentimes that sacrifice is a social life!
I’d like to compete one day. What’s the best way to start?
Competitions are a great way to push oneself to become better. While I’m not competitive by nature, I am addicted to the thrill of setting sights on a goal and achieving it. For me, having that looming deadline on the calendar is the most effective way to train hard, strategically, deliberately and with focus.
For those looking to compete, I highly recommend USPDF, Pole Sports Organization, Pole Championship Series, and North American Pole Dance Championships in the USA. Internationally, I recommend IPDFA International Pole Championships (IPC) and the various Pole Arts (Cyprus, Spain, France, etc.) and Pole Theatres (UK, France, Croatia) throughout the world.
You might also want to check out www.UnitedPoleArtists.com for a comprehensive listing of national and international competitions.
That being said, competitions aren’t the only way for a pole dancer to perform, or push themselves. Many major cities have performances opportunities. And if you’re in a city that doesn’t have a pole show, there’s no reason not to start one! All you need is a venue, an X-Stage and willing performers.
I will be visiting Los Angeles (or live in Los Angeles). Where can I take classes from you?
Email me at Natasha@natashawang.com for my latest teaching schedule!
I’d like to book you for a workshop, performance or TV appearance. How do I go about doing that?
Please contact my booking manager Kristy Craig of Poles on Tour: firstname.lastname@example.org.