In our last Meaningful March post, we chat with Body & Pole student (and unofficial cheerleader — her energy is contagious!), Alysia Margolis-Seiden. Alysia self-admittedly stumbled upon pole dancing “later in life”, but “found her tribe” and hasn’t looked back since. As we round the corner on fewer restrictions and the hopefulness of a new season, we can’t help but feel optimistic with Alysia’s passion and exuberance for Body & Pole.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m a Brooklyn girl at heart, born & raised. I’ve been married for 25 years and we are raising twins in the big old city. They’re dynamic and feisty 17 year olds, who keep us both on our toes. I worked as a pediatric occupational therapist in NYC, getting my master’s at NYU. I also worked as a consultant for Beachbody for the past 13 years. You can find me jumping around and grimacing in pain, in Shaun T’s Insanity video, Asylum, Max30, CIZE & one Brazil Butt Lift video. Then I transitioned into fitness video production and wardrobe styling, which I still do today and love.
When did you start dancing?
I grew up dancing and was a competitive gymnast back in the 1980’s. When I started gymnastics, there were wooden balance beams. OUCH. Dance was always a part of my life. I danced up until the day I gave birth to two huge 7lb. babies. I danced at Sarah Lawrence College and North Carolina School of the Arts. I never danced professionally after college, but I never stopped moving. Beachbody came into my life at a difficult period and meeting Shaun T in a dance class proved to be a turning point in my life. I’ve done every form of fitness, I joke that I am the “old girl” in the videos who smiles through the pain..I have a tendency to be slightly happy — I smile all the time, so I make power jumps, jumping jacks and pushups look entertaining, even though they suck, especially now that I’ve discovered the sweet joy of pole dancing.
How did you discover pole dancing and Body & Pole?
Three years ago, a girlfriend of mine wanted to try pole dancing. We bopped around the city trying all new forms of exercise, which is such a “NYC mom” thing to do before school pickup. So, she dragged me to Body & Pole with the promise that we will never do it again. Well, she never came back and I clearly never left. I was hooked after one fireman spin and three dip turns. I felt like I found my people, I found my tribe. I kept thinking, how was I so in tap with NYC dance and fitness and had missed this gem of a studio. I kept asking “when did this studio open?” I was so mad I didn’t discover it sooner…and I still am!
Although my love for pole dancing was instant, the first six months, I didn’t tell anyone I was pole dancing. I didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t want to embarrass my husband or teenage children. I would secretly send my mom dance videos after each class. Then I stopped doing any other form of exercise and found myself living for pole class. With the “early bird” membership, I was dancing as much as possible. I tried every pole class I could: Liquid Motion, Pole’ography, Low Flow Heels, Pole, Pole, Pole. Slowly it took over my existence and now, I’m honored and humbled to call myself a pole dancer. My whole Instagram feed right now is food and pole dancing: what can I cook and what move can I “never” get. It’s remarkable how skilled people are. I know pole dancing will make it into the Olympics one day and ’ll be waving my Body & Pole flag — all stars and poles. I remember when I got the courage to wear the B&P hat on the subway, revealing my true self. Today I’m a loud and proud pole dancer. I have pole dancing earrings, necklaces, hats, socks, leg warmers, bottles & bottles of sticky grip, knee pads, an impressive array of 7-inch heels and more booty baring shorts than any 53-year-old should ever fess up to. I’m so honored to “Sweat on the Ceiling” at Body & Pole and “Own an Unknown” I never knew I needed. I might have been born in the 60’s, but when I’m on that pole, I feel like it’s 1999.
As an adult, it’s difficult to enter a class, not knowing if you’re going to be able to make it through and do something right without hurting yourself, but with encouragement and under the skillful eyes of the teachers, you just can’t help but improve. At times in your life you can plateau, this place just opened up so many experiences and challenges for me – emotionally, physically, and socially. I celebrated my 50th birthday on the pole and I’m going to be 53 this summer and I feel more joyful and fulfilled than I’ve ever. I think being an “older” dancer comes with hidden benefits, I don’t have any pretense about what I should be doing or can and can’t do. I don’t look at other people in the class and judge myself against them. I put a crash mat beneath my pole with humility. I think that growth has taken a different trajectory for me, but it’s a positive moving trajectory. I’m doing things I never thought I would ever do: skins, flares, leg hangs, torso switches, jamilla, jades, Ayeshas, shoulder mounts. It blows my mind and sets my heart on fire.
How did you handle the pandemic?
This past year, we’re all experiencing such sadness and devastation on small and global levels. Being separated from family and friends has taken its toll. I spent the shutdown in NYC and out on Long Island. My husband worked 24/7 out of the living room while my kids navigated the pressure of their junior year of high school on Zoom. My family is so supportive of my dancing, they are just glad I don’t have a home pole.
Like many others, the B&P community saved my mental health. Everyone has been so supportive of each other. During the pandemic, I made sure I supported all my dancer friends during every performance of Let Them Eat Cake. I can’t wait to go back to watching live performances. I miss Schtick-A-Pole in it, I miss The Slipper Room, I miss all the performances at B&P…all which had just come into my life. If you all think I cheered like a lunatic before the pandemic…watch out!
Does it feel different with the studio re-opened?
When B&P reopened their doors in September, it was the “heel clack” heard around the world! I think people were anxious and nervous, but deliriously thankful that we were able to come back. I was truly impressed with the level of attention taken to keep the staff and students safe. I think we all have a lot more respect for the trainers because they are putting themselves in front of so many bodies on a daily basis. We all try to “Own our Unknown” at B&P…but the unknown and the daily fear has exploded over the past year. Body & Pole has continued to elevate its members. We are so lucky to be there. A big shout out to the incredible trainers and all the kind and considerate staff. One thing I can be certain of is that we’re all smiling beneath our masks at the studio.
Anything else you want to add?
Body & Pole is the most diverse, loving and inclusive community that I’ve ever been a part of. I’m so honored and grateful to be there. If you show up and you bring your best self, you are going to grow into a better person. It changed me, it changed the cells in my body, it changed who I thought I was. It’s so unusual for an adult to find a passion later in life. Everyday there’s an opportunity to gain new skills and make new friends. I never miss an opportunity to get to know the person dancing next to me. We have it all at B&P…teachers, nurses, doctors, astrophysicists, veterinarians, art therapists. We all cheer each other on, we relish in others’ successes. The love and camaraderie we have for each other extends past the studio walls. Now, if you want to find me…I’ll be 6 feet up, until I’m 6 feet under.
Last bit of advice from an old girl: Dance like nobody’s watching, unless you’re pole dancing…then dance for your life!