Joanna Burch

The art of dance has rapidly crossed over into the world of fitness – with an increasing number of people of all ages looking to put a fun aspect into their choice of fitness activity. INSPO Fitness Journal finds out more…

Not long after she started walking, Joanna Burch discovered dance. Three decades later and she is still dancing her way through life.

The vivacious dance studio owner took up ballet at the age of three, and has also studied jazz ballet, ballroom and tap dancing. These days she is bringing the world of dance to all ages and abilities as a means of fitness and strength training; with branches of her business The Studio in Hamilton, Tauranga and Whangarei.

Specialising in aerial and pole workouts, Joanna thrives on introducing dance to people of all ages, particularly adults who have always wanted to dance but never been brave enough or known where to start.

“There are a lot of common concerns or reservations people have about giving dance a go. I’ve heard everything from: ‘I can’t lift myself, I’ll fall off, I’m too big, I won’t be able to do it….

“Everyone starts somewhere. If you have a positive, willing attitude you can achieve anything. Anyone can do pole and aerial no matter their age, size, fitness level, weight or ability and no skills are required to start.”

Photos by Katie Smith

Joanna personally loves the fun of dance, and the fact she is exercising while enjoying it so much. And seeing other people reach the same levels of enjoyment ensures the passion for her business continues to grow.

She lists the physical benefits as ‘toning, strengthening, weight loss, increased confidence, increased flexibility and happy endorphins that come with doing awesome fun fitness’.

“It’s different from going to a gym and doing the same old workout. Pole and aerial works your entire body while getting the same results – you’re lifting your entire body weight.

“And there’s a huge sense of achievement when you master something you never thought your body or mind was capable of.”

Described as a form of performing art, pole dancing combines dance and acrobatics and is fast gaining popularity as a form of fitness, practised by many enthusiasts in gyms and in dedicated dance studios.

Photos by Katie Smith

“The feedback we receive is so rewarding,” she says. “Other than the physical changes, our students share how dance has helped increase their self-esteem, become more confident in their body and also their mind, be less stressed and happier, make new friends and feel a strong sense of community.

“That’s pretty remarkable considering they are all doing something fun which is good for their bodies and minds.”

Joanna is delighted to see more people, in such a wide variety of ages, enjoying the benefits of dance. Her students range from 10 years old (aerial classes) to women in their 60s having a go.

One of the most common misconceptions around the aerial and pole fitness is that you need to have dance background or be fit to start.

She is quick to reassure that this is not the case.

“The more you do it, the more fitness and strength you’ll gain.”

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Joanna’s top tips for beginners:

1. Don’t be scared to come to a class by yourself. Everyone who starts is in the same position – all experiencing it for the first time.
2. Keep trying. Each week you’ll get better and achieve a new move/skill.
3. Once you sign up for a course, stick at it and finish the classes. Even if you can’t do it for the first few weeks, you’ll surprise yourself how much you can achieve in 10 weeks.
4. Don’t get mad at yourself if you find it difficult. Every person will have a spin or pose that they find unbelievably difficult. Just keep trying and you will get there. Even the best pole dancers were beginners once and know how frustrating it can be.
5. Take it one step at a time. Every move can have many variations or versions – different grips for the hands or a variation with the legs. It’s important to master the basics before moving on and you’ll find it much easier to progress.