OCEAN CITY – Pole Power Studio in West Ocean City resists the taboo when it comes to pole dancing, turning it into a new, fun and exciting way to shed pounds and tighten up, or a way to spend an evening out with the girls.

Owner Angela Houck is a wife and a mother of two who cut her hours in her nursing career to part-time when she decided to spend more time at home but was looking for a different way to get back in shape. That is when she came across Pole Fitness.

“I took a class over the bridge because there wasn’t anything offered here on the Eastern Shore, and I fell in love with it,” Houck said.

Houck had instructed fitness classes in her earlier years and found Pole Fitness as a way to keep herself interested in staying in shape.

“I wanted to share it with other women, and when I did people started asking where to take classes, so that is when I decided to open a studio,” she said.

Houck opened Pole Power Studio in West Ocean City in 2007, followed by her second location in Salisbury in 2010.

“I tried to operate my studio and do nursing but it was a little bit much,” Houck said. “I had resigned from the hospital and made Pole Fitness classes my main career. I absolutely love it. I love everything about it. I love meeting all the women and watching their transformation … that is the reward that comes from it … when they find out they actually can do it and master it, it is the most rewarding and exciting feeling.”

Houck has found no trouble spreading the word on Pole Power Studio, as enthusiasm over the growing genre of fitness has continued to grow.

“Most women are hesitant to come through the door but once they have talked to someone who has been in the studio or has taken the class they are willing to give it a try,” Houck said. “All the women that come through are so encouraging of one another, and cheer each other on. It is a very fun and supportive environment.”

Houck’s biggest challenge is addressing the perception that Pole Fitness is directly correlated to exotic dancing.

“Although there is a sexy side to pole, it is so much more than that,” she said. “It is mind and body workout with a combination of dance, yoga, gymnastics and acrobatics, pretty much all of it. That is probably why I fell in love with it because I had tried every fitness genre there is and this is all of them together, and your body never gets bored because it is not the same type of movement over and over again. No matter what level you progress to its using your body in different directions against gravity, so there is always something that changes.”

The Pole Fitness realm has grown significantly in recent years. Internationally it has become an accepted form of fitness and sponsored competitions are held every year. The U.S. held its first competition in 2009.

There are three categories of pole dance, starting with exotic dance, or entertainment.
“That is a very small part of what we do here,” Houck explained.
Next is Pole Fitness, which most women are involved in.

“Pole Fitness is your average everyday lady, whether you want it in a private dance studio or for fitness and fun,” Houck said.

The last category is Pole Sport, which is the competitive side and made up of men and women competing in the U.S. or internationally.

“In the Pole Fitness and Sport world there is incredible athleticism and strength, flexibility and creativity in dance, movement and costumes,” she said.

Houck has made her rounds in pole competitions. She is a 2011 APFC Elite Finalist, 2011 Best Instructor and Best Studio for the East Coast by the International Pole Dance Magazine, 2nd Place in the 2012 Tri-State Pole Invitational Competition, and was named 2013 Greatest Around Ocean City for Best Fitness Instructor, Best Women Friendly Gym and Best Fitness Classes.

The Pole Sport Organization is divided into four regions — Atlantic, Central, Pacific and Southern. Houck recently returned from the Southern Pole Championships held June 5-6 in Miami where she competed in Championship Level 3 Senior and earned first place. Following the competition, Houck attended the fourth annual International Pole Convention.

“It is really cool thing to be a part of because it is everyone internationally that has made pole what it is,” she said.

Pole Power Studio offers a variety of classes and private lessons. All students start in the beginner classes because pole is generally new to everyone. After learning the foundation moves and gaining strength and confidence, students begin to move through the different levels at their own pace.

“Our classes are for all women of all fitness levels, shape, size and ages, from all professions and all walks of life,” Houck said. “No one, whether you’re fit or not, comes into the studio with full experience. Everyone is in the same boat when they start, fit or not.”

Pole Power Studio also offers private parties for any ladies night out event, such as a bachelorette party, birthdays or a mom’s night out.

“Our classes are fun but parties are totally about fun,” Houck said. “It is still a workout … we build a whole routine and perform it all together.”

For information on Pole Power Studio and classes, private sessions, and parties, visit www.thepolepower.com or call 877-653-3482.