A new pole dancing studio in east Bremerton is offering the promise of a safe space for men and women to find confidence in their bodies while also getting a challenging workout.
Pole dancing has gained popularity as a test of strength and mobility, a good all-around workout for anyone looking to get fit. While it still carries the stigma of being synonymous with the sex industry, co-owners Kim Holmgren and Ryleigh Hazen of the new Studio K Pole say that the public’s impression is not as bad as it was a decade ago.
“I think I’ve had one person ever make a face at it,” Hazen said, “and besides that, I think people are pretty up-to-date on what it is and see it as a good form of fitness. A lot of people come in with a fitness aspect, and they want to get in, like, a fun, community-driven exercise in a class format.”
Hazen, a Bremerton native, started in a variety of dancing styles at the Bremerton Dance Center with the Peninsula Dance Theater when she was 3 years old. It wasn’t until she briefly moved away that her pursuit of a new dance community led her to the world of pole and exotic movement. “I think it was off of Groupon I found a studio that was like fifteen minutes away from me,” she said. “Then I found a studio that I was really really into and started going there pretty seriously right before the pandemic.”
The sudden entrance of COVID-19 did not stop her from continuing to learn with online classes, albeit less on the pole and more on the ground.
Hazen moved back to the Bremerton area and would meet her soon-to-be business partner in Holmgren through Bumble BFF. The pair connected over a shared love of pole dancing, which Holmgren has grown in for around six years. “I’ve always been really interested in fitness, and then I decided to try a pole dancing class in college with a friend and had a blast,” she said.
The combination of experience and passion motivated them to search for pole dancing options in Kitsap. Finding none, they took it upon themselves to open a Kitsap-based studio, which is now in the midst of its soft launch. “I’m not big on driving,” admitted Holmgren, who said the next-closest option for a studio is in Tacoma. “It was not really an option for me, so we got to talking and decided to open one ourselves.”
Clients are offered a range of introductory classes to spice up their workout and dance routines. The duo plans to develop more group sessions and other events as they work toward a grand opening in late June.
In addition to providing a unique fitness experience, Holmgren said it also provides a setting for dancers to give and receive much-needed support. “Pole dance has a really awesome community around it,” she said. “People are cheering each other on and talking after class, and you feel like you’re part of something instead of just showing up, doing your workout and leaving.”
The support is important for a dance style that Holmgren and Hazen said could be extremely demanding of the body as time goes on. “We have worked really, really hard to make an incredibly beginner-friendly environment for intro classes,” Holmgren said. “You’re lifting your whole body weight in almost anything you’re doing.”