With Halloween having just passed, some of you may have dressed like a ninja, but we got to talk with with ACTUAL pole-ninja, Kenneth Kao. Continue below to read all the insightful information Dr. Ken, pole ninja has to share.

What drew you to pole dancing?

The general movement style of pole, and the needed skills to accomplish the moves were what first attracted me to pole. But over time, it was the meditative and introspective aspects of pole that kept bringing me back to it.

You’re someone who has been doing extreme sports for years, have you observed any noticeable change in your body once you started doing pole?

I’ve noticed that my body has adapted to pole, yes, mostly in the areas of more asymmetry (training for competition and showing best-side-only) and smaller legs (less jumping). Lol. But seriously, I have, of course, gotten stronger in certain areas and weaker in others. I’ve had the expected skin adaptations as well. The amount of cross-training I do is probably not enough to balance my system for the amount of teaching and travel I do, but that’s on me and not pole.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts about pole dancing?

The challenges would have to coincide with the rewards. For me, it’s the personal challenges such as overcoming mental blocks and goal actuation and social challenges; these also are the rewards.

For instance, overcoming a fear of a certain movement will allow me greater understanding of similar movements in normal life. The ability to systemically beat mental blocks will train me to deal with other mental blocks that come into play just living. Learning to get goals moving forward is helping me accomplish more as a person. And socially, I’m quite uncomfortable around strangers, and by social attention, but going through this in my pole career is helping me benefit in my personal growth.

That is the cost/benefit for me, but I can’t speak for others except that the rewards are simply the results of the challenges you take on when pole dancing.

As a male, are you subject to stigma that comes along with be a pole athlete? If so, how do you deal with this negative stigma?

Yes, I am. I wrote a blog on this here: http://kennethkao.com/wordpress/2014/01/in-my-humble-ninjas-opinion-on-being-a-male-in-pole-dancing/

and on stigma, here: http://kennethkao.com/wordpress/2014/11/will-pole-dancing-become-mainstream/

In pole we often talk about healthy bodies, but how do you maintain a healthy mind & spirit, in addition to your body?

Well, to be honest, talk about “health” in the pole world is usually just as misinformed as the general world, but that’s another topic.

Concerning biochemical and neurochemical health, diet plays a huge role in that. If we starve the brain, we often become less psychologically healthy, so diet obviously matters to a healthy mind and spirit as much as body.

That being said, balance is everything. Each moment of each day is a decision on who you are and what you’ll accomplish and where you’ll go. This includes (before you panic), relaxation and fun.

I think most important is that you are active about making a choice. Ask what you’re building for yourself, and then ask if you’ll be happy with who you are and where you’re going. And if your decision is to go with the flow and not ask any questions, then that’s fine, too ;).

To read more from Kenneth Kao be sure to visit his blog here.