Interview with Pole Coach and Performer, Paulina

This is the transcript of our Episode 6: Meet Paulina, Pole Coach and Performer from Pole On The Call that aired Thursday, February 10, 2022.

You can watch this episode on YouTube, or listen to it on Spotify, Apple Music, or your favorite podcast service.

Follow Paulina on Instagram: @russianamericanpoler

Paulina’s pole career has started in 2014 with an introductory class taught by Makeda Agada at the London Academy of Pole. She is the gold medalist at the Division 3 Northeast Pole Championships 2016.

Paulina trains with the 2015 National Pole Champion Maggie Ann at Paradigm Pole Fitness in Worcester and in MyPoleSpace studio in St Petersbourg, Russia. Paulina has also trained in studios in Moscow, Tokyo and Paris. She is a founding member of the UMASS Dynamic Motion Dance Team.

Mentioned in this interview:

Video of the Paulina's piece "Therefore I am / Следовательно я существую"

Paulina Reviews Different Hand Grips:


Hey everyone it’s me Cris Rivers from Pole on the call and I’m Mændy Mac,

and today we’re going into episode six where we be interviewing miss Paulina.

Hi everyone I’m Paulina, I love it also so, Mændy do you want to start off and go into you can you can find Paulina on Instagram @russianamericanpoler and we’ll list her Instagram and all the other ways you can follow her. But Paulina is one of our amazing teachers at Pole in the Wall and she’s been with us from the very beginning, and even before then we’ve been pulling with her for so long and she’s just so amazing so we’re excited, to learn a little bit more about Paulina and what makes Paulina a pole dancer and other things as well.

Oh lord almighty so with that long intro, Paulina the first question how long have you been pole dancing ?

So I’ve been polling since 2014 which makes it which makes it essentially eight years in September which I don’t know where the time went it goes by so fast.

Yeah that’s amazing and did you always know that you wanted to teach pole or did you just like, where did you think pole was going to take you at the beginning.

Well that’s that’s actually one of my favorite stories about pole I um which starts not with pole at all, it starts with uh running I used to work a job that had really really long hours and I always liked a workout that not just makes you sweat it, makes you tired because then I sleep better and I had no other time but run and no other time but for running because you know it’s easy have your shoes and you just go essentially so I decided to train for a marathon. But I was not entirely body smart at that point so I didn’t do anything else I just run.

I was like no you know I’m not 30 yet I can just run and I actually ended up getting hurt I ran a marathon, but then I ended up getting hurt in my hip. I had like this sharp shooting pain where I couldn’t run anymore and so this big part of my life all of a sudden was removed right.

I really love eating and I love working out those, two things right so and you know the gym workouts weren’t cutting it and I started looking for something else to do and someone said hey you should try pole dancing it’s it’s a whole body workout I’m like do I look like a stripper to you I mean where are you trying to tell me to go the last time I’ve seen a pole dancer was in the club and my actually my boss paid for a lap dance at that time. I like I did not see an actual fitness person doing pole for fitness ever. I didn’t know that existed at that time and I was like not for me thank you.

Though I appreciate it so when I did get hurt I remember that conversation and I was living in london at that time and I went into london it’s london pole dance academy um near near the near not far from london bridge. And I took my first class and I thought oh my god this is like the best thing in the world, I don’t know why more people aren’t doing it. Everybody there essentially came to work out I mean it wasn’t a club right.

I entered I didn’t know what to expect I thought it was going to be a club with lights and everything no it was just like a bunch of people working out men women professional whatever like from all walks of life all shapes and sizes. I was like I can’t believe this is so amazing why isn’t everybody talking about it and I was like oh no people did talk to me about it, I just didn’t believe it existed .

I just got really really excited because it combined everything I loved right, combined movement of my dance, artistic expression, and it really was a whole body workout.

I mean like who knew we had muscles like right here and like right there and like on your back, like weird spots right, and like my whole body ached the next day.

I was like I love this, I want more of that so I i just, I i tried learning as fast as much as I could and then yeah that first class was like, I want to teach this one day. This is so much fun, I just love the way it was like how how well all the students were supported, and how excited the instructor was I’m like she really is excited, she loves this, I mean I love this too. I want to teach this one day so yeah it was like kind of love at first sight for me.

I love it, yes awesome thank you for sharing that!

Excellent, well you said that you got into it too from running, did you have a I think you had like a former background in dance?

I did do some dance.

I wasn’t one of those people that was like oh yes I did ballet since I was three, that wasn’t, that wasn’t me.

I always, was absolutely enamored by dance, but my family actually didn’t have that much money and means to put me through a dance schoo,

Even though I was born and raised in nursing, that’s kind of like what russians girls, do uh but we didn’t really have the right resource and a scout looked at me and said my bones were too big or too wide, and they’re like it’s not going to cut,like that’s not the look we’re afte.

Which actually, right now if you look back it would have been a pretty decent fit, because you do need a pretty good frame to be on point but in either case I didn’t. I didn’t it didn’t work out, and I wanted to dance the entire time, because I’m actually clumsy as a person, like I i will walk into that door if it’s open face.

Like right here, it will happen over and over again, like all the doors, all the furniture has known my wrath, I literally have bruises from walking into places, into things so.

I’ve always wanted to dance because I’m like, yeah I know I can move but you know I’m just, I was a little awkward and it wasn’t until we moved to the states, where I was a junior in high school, I started, you know there was an opportunity to play a sport so I started trying things out in terms of movement and in terms of a little bit of dance class.

Because when back when I was in Russia, unless you did ballet from age three,you couldn’t really do it recreationally. It was like you either do it to be a professional, or you don’t do it at all.

Right now it has changed but, back when I was born it was still soviet union, so it’s kind of like either you do it or you don’t at all. So when I moved here, I started exploring a little more dance and when I got to college, I started taking some dance class.

I also explored a lot of salsa, some ballroom, but I did salsa for a number of years and then I auditioned and got into one of the UMASS Amherst dance teams, that just started in fact like proud to say I’m one of the founding members of the dynamic motion dance team.

But that’s where I learned most of movement, because I had very little experience beforehand, so it was mostly in college. I would say that I started moving and understanding anything and everything about dance so I haven’t taken my first ballet class until I was like probably 22 or something 21.

That’s incredible, wow oh yeah, well Cris you want to take the next question

Okay so let me see.

What was the first, what is your competition experience, and I guess what was your favorite experience with competing?

Does this call have any like time limits? Because this might be a really long answer....

But okay, so you’ve asked what is say that one more time, because I just started going on tangents in my mind.

I guess like what kind of competitions have you been in, what do you have experience with and I guess what was your favorite one.....

oh did she disappear

I didn’t I’m right here. uh so uh let’s see so I have done quite a number. of PSO competitions, starting from level two all the way to level five. In terms of accolades, I’ve placed in level two three and four .

I’ve just yet to place on level five, and I think my very first level two competition, was actually maybe Mændy’s very first level two. I think Mændy and I both maybe was it, New York,

It was New York,

It was on the stage yeah yeah, when I was on the stage , I’ve always competed in artistic, or what used to be called dramatic, and I would say that you know probably the biggest rush, there’s nothing like the first time you take the stage right?

I mean it’s just, I think that’s that was the the biggest one in terms of, oh wow I should do that again , how many more times can I do it?

Today like I really want to come back, and you know if you weren’t hooked on Pole before, like and if then then you certainly are now, right?

I mean like if this doesn’t get you really in love with Pole, if you weren’t before then I don’t know what will because it’s just you know the community is incredible everybody’s so supportive. You know you get to explore your artistic self, you get to have an audience, and you get to really grow right?

Because there’s nothing like, knowing hey I have reserved this time in my life to train, to have this experience on stage, there will be people looking at me, also paid for my ticket. There’s nothing like that, to make you work and train harder, and more discipline.

Really everything else is like, yeah my New Year’s resolution, you know if you want a New Year’s resolution, sign up for a competition. Trust me you’ll work harder than you ever have before, so you know that’s kind of why I do it right.

I mean it just makes me a better athlete, and a better artist and a better mover. Just certainly you , you certainly won’t be bored right?

And then I guess my favorite, probably one of my favorite, routines was the one I did to Schindler’s List that was, I think level three a while ago. Just really a lot of things matched up, both like my tricks level was matching the level I was competing at, and I felt like the choreography really spoke, and kind of took it home.

It was kind of all in one, and then, yeah and I think like anybody and everybody who wants to grow, should at some point sign up to get some stage time. Because there’s nothing like it, there’s really nothing like it, definitely.

Thank you, yeah and and you’ve also coached a lot of students for competitions too, and you’ve led our competition session classes too. You lead everyone and help everyone for the big day.

What do you, what advice do you have for competitors, what is like one bit of advice you can give?

Well let’s see...

I think, do it for you is the one thing that I keep giving myself as advice, and everyone else really, I mean yes there’s going to be people, yes there’s going to be judges no matter what level you’re doing, but really you’re not really doing it for anyone else.

You know if you’re if the only reason why you’re doing it is to win, you may not be in the right place because you know it is really such a small part of what the competition is. Because the biggest, the biggest part of competing is the preparation, is all the run throughs, is doing it when you no longer feel like doing, it is you know, you know, pushing through one more time.

That is really what it’s about, and if you’re not doing it for you you’re probably not going to have as much fun but if you’re doing it for you and you’re doing it for your growth, you know for your own history for your, you know just growing to be a better poler you’re going to have a blast, because the trajectory is incredible and you’re going to be super proud and that’s really what counts.

Yes definitely I agree.

Do you have any more questions about competitions Cris?

About competitions....

About competitions, no, I don’t think so, you asked about advice, that’s it for competitions, yeah that was my last competition question.

Do you want to go into another one?

Yeah sure, so I know you have work with MyPoleSpace, can you tell the pole community, about that work?

Sure , so let’s see, so I’ve done some translation, for MyPoleSpace English portal, and I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to go to MyPoleSpace and actually take class there, and last spring I was out of this world fortunate to have been invited to their end of the year show in St. Petersburg and perform with a very very large paper roll.

Uh which it was probably by far the coolest number I’ve ever done, so if you’re talking about like what is my favorite time on stage, that was probably it, and it was also the longest it was over five minutes long. I believe maybe even six, so it was an incredible experience.

I mean everything MyPoleSpace does, it comes out pretty amazing, if you look at their teachers and their instructors and their students, everybody’s like feels like everybody walks in water , when you get there.

It’s kind of true because, it’s like people do amazing stuff there, but it’s a really great community, and it’s both you know online, and in person. They have two schools now one in St. Petersburg, one in Moscow and they do quite a bit of material online as well. Unfortunately mostly in Russian, but maybe one day that will change so yeah.

We could definitely add that instagram handle for other polers down in the comments below for anyone listening and watching.

Definitely, yeah there’s a lot, there’s a lot of tutorials there, that are super great both for heels dance and tricks and articles on just general body wellness and aerial wellness and flexibility and things like that.

Is that linked to your performance still available too ?

Yeah it should be on my profile, I’ve uploaded it into IGTV so it should be .

I definitely want to include that one as well, yeah if you need it let me know and then

so what is your favorite style of pole?

Uh probably contemporary for me personally.

But then I keep getting seduced into heels, it’s because it’s really hard to stay away so there’s always this once a year time where I’m like oh yeah.

I’ve been on heels for a long time this is fun, oh wow that’s a lot of work so I tend to go through these kind of moments but you know something that I just naturally gravitate towards is contemporary since you know it’s been a couple years, but I’ve done a lot of ballet work just so you know. For toning and understanding lines and things like that, and that kind of naturally brings me over to contemporary.

I feel like they’re very connected in many ways, and I feel like that’s just so transferable to pole, not that any other movement isn’t, every other movement is, it’s just something that I don’t know, just kind of like a natural fit for me .

Personally it’s like cross training what do you do besides pole, or do you do anything else well?

I do , I try to do at least three times a week, I try to do a flexibility session and I split it up by splits, middle splits and back flexibility so just allow an hour for each.

Something I should be doing it, but I haven’t so far but I’m doing a lot of should be doing a lot of rehab for my shoulders, and I’ve been kind of sweeping that under the rug a little bit. But I do need to come back to that and in my, you know with all things being equal I would do at least a half hour of rehab for each pole training session for my shoulders because they’re just really soft and they they have an easy time getting out of socket without me even knowing it happened.

So for folks like that you need to keep that joint nice and stable, and then I try to either take class or do ballet at home I actually have a bar I try to do that once a week mostly bar things just to get those muscles working nice yeah it’s fun.

It’s fun try it.

Lots of, lots of good stuff .

I love it yeah, I’m just I’m just a big fan of lines in general and I think that’s something that pole kind of introduced me to. I mean you can always go to a dance show or you know a ballet performance or a circus show and be like wow that’s pretty but understanding, wow that’s a beautiful line or understanding how an artist used the body to get their point across is just like a whole other level.

And I feel like with pole it allowed me to really start understanding body movement and, just in a whole other kind of like a whole new universe, so now when I go see any kind of performance, it has to do body motion I’m like wow, all right so there’s this whole other world out there that you’re just not aware of until you kind of start getting intimately familiar with it.

Yes I agree.

Well do you want to, I have a few more questions unless you want to go next Cris?

Yeah I could go, what is either your favorite pole trick or what was like your pole nemesis, and you’re so proud of?

That all right..... well two things come to mind and I’m going to have to do talk about two things, so because of my shoulders that are soft and probably if I was a little younger they would have been called double jointed ....but they’re definitely very soft.

I couldn’t jump into a handspring from a floor until year four in my training...... it was not just a nemesis it was just something I didn’t even know was possible for people like me . My shoulders would just wobble they couldn’t stay in place at all, and it took a lot of rehab it took actually an extra year of going to the gym and understanding how Lats work because I didn’t even know I had them.

I just could all I had instead of Lats were Ribs like..... I could just feel my ribs through my back and that was it I thought everybody was like that..... but no that’s just me. So understanding how Lats work to you know..... how to work the shoulder to really feel it. Had a lot to do with that..... so there’s a lot of education in between and normally you know usually like people with regular shoulders would probably get into jumping into their handspring sometime in the first or second year.

It took me literally twice or three times or four times as long as some people so that was definitely one and then another move was Janeiro which had a completely opposite story . I got into it very fast like I tried it a couple of times and then I got into it ....that was before I had hand muscles or back muscles I got into it because I could just fold .......because again soft muscles in the back just kind of folded into it but it know I couldn’t get out of it any other way ......but just kind of folding on top of myself and dropping on the floor .

Then once I started working on strength and really being mindful about how my body works all of a sudden I realized I was stronger but I couldn’t get into Janeiro anymore. I couldn’t get into Janeiro for a year..... I just I couldn’t understand it as if like I have this new body now...... or at least new awareness but Janeiro isn’t just a part of my universe anymore like...... he used to be able to get into it because he had no muscles now you have muscles but no Janeiro for you.....

And so it took a while took a while to understand how to properly engage the back and how to get back into it . I don’t want to say that I’m now proud to like be an owner of Janeiro for the rest of my life..... but it’s just one of those things where I had it for a year, maybe two years and it was gone for a couple years..... just completely gone..... and I was really frustrated but it’s back this far. It’s back so far, hasn’t left yet.

I love it thank you for that.

Right though like pole is a journey though, like sometimes the moves are there and sometimes they’re not and like where do they go.

It just, you know I haven’t started until I hadn’t started poling until I was 30 and that’s after having two children and having run a marathon and have had a sitting job for a while so my body had a lot of things in its history that weren’t necessarily conducive to active movement in the air and you know I think each of us comes to pole with our own body history.....and we’re not a