The Paragon of Pole Art

As she gracefully swirls on a gleaming pole, with reflective locks of her hair doing a dance of their own, her perfectly poised manoeuvres leave us so entranced, we cannot spare a moment to blink. It only then becomes discernible that Mint has not only pursued her passion of aerial arts after stumbling upon it in the UK, but has disseminated her strong zeal to hundreds of students ravenous for adrenaline. The exemplar of Pole has given us her time to talk about how she discovered her passion and paved the way for aerial fitness in Egypt.

By: Mayar El-Shamy

What brought you to the art of Pole?
When I was studying architecture in the UK, one of the available on-campus activities was Pole. I started training and became completely addicted. Within a year, I had already started teaching!

Tell us how ‘Pole Fit Egypt’ happened.
This is my favourite story to tell because it was never initially intended to happen! Coming back from the UK, I brought a pole with me to set up at home. And because in Pole you can’t efficiently train alone, I started inviting my friends to come over so that I could share this passion of mine with them. Before I knew it, my friends were bringing along more friends. I had strangers walking in and out of my house everyday, so I thought, “well I better open up a studio!” And that’s how the first studio for Pole in Egypt happened!

What is your instructor experience like? How long have you been instructing?
I’ve been instructing since I was 18, which was six years ago. My experience has been mesmerizing. Pole has completely transformed my life and allowed me transform the lives of others. Even though I am the instructor during my classes, I find that it is my students who teach me the most. I’ve learned how to become a better teacher from them. Knowing how much Pole can affect a student, it is humbling and feels wonderful to be the medium that can make a difference in students’ lives. You walk into class and it brings you out of your comfort zone; it allows you to explore your body and discover its existing capabilities, making you fall in love with it and yourself. Instructing has exposed me to an amazing diversity of women in Cairo. I mean, in one class, there could be an oncologist, a chef, a designer, and a student altogether. This experience also enabled me to travel and learn from instructors all over the world, to further better the Pole curriculum that our students learn at PFE.

How much time do you spend training?
Well, I also manage PFE, so it all depends on how much I am juggling, I train whenever I get the chance to!

Besides pole, are you involved in any other activities?
Absolutely! Within the world of aerial arts, I practice hoop. I also train in flexibility, handstands, acro yoga, and I specialize in freestyle and theatric dance techniques. I also do a little bit of interior designing, concentrating on Feng Shui.

Will you walk us through your diet?
I do not have a diet, but I have a set of rules that I’ve been following religiously since I was 14. These are my rules: I will not eat for at least two hours before I go to sleep. I do not drink anything that isn’t water, fresh juice, or the occasional coffee and tea. I have my sweets during the daytime, and I do not eat any fast food whatsoever. I love ice cream and I make sure to treat myself whenever I feel like it. Whatever doesn’t harm my body is on my plate!

What are the benefits of Pole?
My students can best answer this question. There are women who will tell you that pole fitness has helped them accept their bodies as they are, and those who think that it is the greatest confidence-booster they have ever experienced. There are those who will tell you that it’s helped them train their way back into shape as well as practitioners who will say that their body feels different and stronger in a very healthy way. Every student sees the benefits of Pole uniquely, and I think that this is what makes it such a beautiful sport.

Do you have a coaching philosophy?
Most definitely! I have even created a PFE Instructors Training Program which all PFE instructors take after their general international instructor certification. These are trade secrets that I will not share [laughs]. My instructor philosophy is that every student should walk out of a PFE class feeling better and more radiant than they did walking in.

What is your proudest moment in your career?
In my second year of running ‘Pole Fit Egypt’, I broke my neck (no, not in training, it was a friend-play accident) and could neither practice nor teach for one year. There were no instructors in Egypt, and PFE was the only Pole school. So I created our International Resident Instructor Program and still managed to keep ‘Pole Fit Egypt’ up and running. Not even that, but I also managed to expand it three times its size.

Do you ever feel at risk during performance or practice?
No, not at all. I love performing, there is no thinking; I just listen to the music, feel it, interpret it and my body goes. During practice, if there’s a move that I feel nervous about, I make sure I have a spotter whom I trust. That’s a very crucial concept that we teach to our beginner students; they should trust and support each other during class

What do you say to those who deem pole dancing immoral?
I don’t say anything to them; I show them. As the founder of the Pole industry in Egypt, I take upon myself as a responsibility to educate our entire community. If they haven’t seen other forms of Pole apart from that of dancing in nightclubs, then how do you expect them to change their mind? There are many types of Pole; there is pole sport, pole fitness, pole dancing, pole art, Chinese pole…etc. My aim is to create and nourish an educational entity, not an entertainment institute. It is exactly like belly dancing classes, acceptable for you to attend but not for you to go to a cabaret and perform!

Do you have any training tips for our readers?
Practice with the aim of improving yourself for yourself; practice until you can’t get it wrong, and practice until you don’t have to think about it.

Where do you see Pole in Egypt ten years from now?
Four years ago, I was the only instructor in Egypt. I had one studio with one pole. Today, PFE has two locations, and I can’t even count how many poles we have! PFE has created an entire industry that has allowed many studios to come forth and offer pole. God knows what’s going to happen in ten years!