name: samantha picone
age you feel: i've never felt like an adult, so probably 12
occupation: pole dance teacher, competitive pole dancer and student
TGM: so tell us exactly what a pole dance instructor is
SP: i introduce people to the art of pole and to the idea of fitness through pole. i train people from beginners through the professional level so that they can either get in shape or even go on to compete and perform. i teach about six classes a day and a few times a week, and on average 30 students a day. i also teach a spin class where the pole is spinning as you train. which is my favorite.
TGM: wow, how does that even work
SP: the pole has a static and a spin setting, static is when it doesn't move, and spin is when the pole moves and you use the momentum of that. it's really beautiful, like ballet. it's my favorite form of pole dancing and i teach that as a workshop to beginner students. that is probably one of the hardest parts of pole, spinning is hard! but it's the most beautiful thing to watch.
TGM: how did you realize that this was something that you were passionate about
SP: i had taken a class about two years ago, a friend and i got a groupon for it, afterwards i thought it was a joke and never returned... later she convinced me to go back and i did my first invert, which is kind of when you flip upside down legs in a straddle, and i got this crazy high and feeling of accomplishment - after that i just wanted to continue to pursue that feeling. i think is at that point i realized this is more of an acrobatic sport than just spinning around a pole looking pretty. it slowly became an activity where i was able to lose myself in, and i was able to press pause from life and forget about my anxieties.
TGM: did you do anything prior to this field that has helped you to become a master of pole
SP: i mean i took a dance class a child, but not as a teen or adult. a lot of the pole instructors have dance and gymnastics as a background, which i do not. but i think that's an advantage because it allows me to inspire people who come in thinking 'i've got no upper body strength i got no dance background so i can't do it' - but i'm able to show them that you really can. the only thing i feel helped me was that i had a bit of core and upper body strength. but i've developed everything i know just from being consistent with my classes and practices.
TGM: even though you're a teacher now, do you still feel you're a student
SP: yea definitely, i am a student still in some ways. since i started working at foxy fitness, i am a teacher there - but they're the first group to take me under their wing and start training me professionally, and it's ... intense is not even the word. my body is going through so much, but it's great. so i am still a student. i started to teach about 8 months after i started to pole dance.
TGM: what's your favorite part about teaching?
SP: when students open their heart to me, and tell me about themselves and their problems, and show me that they are using my lessons as a means to escape and sort through their problems in everyday life. that's my favorite thing, to be therapeutic.
TGM: where would you like to take this in the next few years
SP: well pole has become my form of meditation, so i want to use it as a platform to spread the idea of how beneficial meditation can be. the four years that i was an undergrad i went through a couple of health issues, i was diagnosed with cancer at one point. the physical symptoms were just exacerbated extremely by my psychological state. physically once i was cured, the symptoms remained in my body and just wouldn't go away because i was so anxious and wouldn't stop thinking about it. and once i started to meditate, a few months later they were gone. this is when it occurred to me that there is this extreme connection between mind and body. and we can use pole dancing or just art and dance in general as a form of meditation to better ourselves.
TGM: if there was a brand that you could collaborate with in the next few years to get this message out there, which would it be
SP: that's hard... quite honestly i don't think there is one brand... i want to create my own.
TGM: how do you differentiate yourself from other people in your field
SP: there's a few sections in pole dancing - there's the more exotic and there's also the competitive type which my colleagues do. and i think that it's never been about competition or being in first place for me, or being sensual and sexual... it's always been about the creative process and the escape-- and that's what it always will be. even though i will compete for the purpose of my career and job, but it's not why i do it.
TGM: do you have anyone who inspires or inspired you to pursue this
SP: yes, there's this dancer named Sergia Louise Anderson, and if you ever look her up you will be amazed. i've never met her, but she is the most captivating person you will ever see. you can tell she puts her heart and soul into everything she produces, and she is probably my biggest inspiration.
TGM: what's one favorite item in your closet and where did you get it
SP: honestly my ray ban sunglasses, they're super classic and i got them from macy's
TGM: there's a fire in your apt and you can only save three items from your closet, what are they
SP: definitely the shades, my nike sports bra that is ripping and tearing but i still love it, and lastly my letterman jacket
TGM: describe your style in one word
TGM: if you could raid anyones closet, whose would it be
SP: rachel tee tyler, she has this classic sporty look, it's so awesome
TGM: you get lifetime access to one brand, which one do you choose
SP: as much as i love adidas, i'll have to go with zara
TGM: what are three beauty products you can't live without
SP: ok... i'm not a big makeup person, but i can't live without sunscreen (laughs), chapstick and my diffuser!
JUST FOR FUN
TGM: which are the top five apps on your phone
SP: i hate that instagram is the first that comes to mind, but yes instagram! duo-lingo, i'm attempting to learn french, videopro since i edit a lot of my pole videos, pandora and mindbody which lets me see schedules for my pole classes.
TGM: you're getting an award, what's your theme song as you walk to the podium
SP: something by sango for sure
TGM: favorite cereal cartoon combo as a child
SP: probably hey arnold and cereal... i like boring cereals (laughs) probably like great grains
TGM: you've won a trip around the world, who do you take and what's your first stop
SP: i wouldn't take anyone (laughs), and my first stop is amsterdam because it's been the place that i immediately fell in love with when i stepped on to the street
TGM: finish this sentence: the last time i felt sexy was ___
SP: this is going to sound cocky, but i feel sexy everyday, i dance and i get to watch myself move and feel happy on the daily
TGM: hollywood called and they're making a movie about you, who would you cast as your role and what is the genre of your film
SP: that's tough, are there any redheads in hollywood right now? okay she looks nothing like me, but i'd cast this model named rose bertram, she is just gorgeous and her personality is amazing... or rather seems amazing because i don't know her (laughs). and the film genre would be comedy.
TGM: you found a time travel machine, where do you go and why
SP: i'd go to the time when my parents were kids so that i could understand them better
TGM: what's your favorite smell
SP: i love the smell of vanilla... but you know when you're dating someone and you just love their scent? that smell!
TGM: rihrih is featuring you in her next single, what do you name the track
TGM: you're breaking up with drake, what do you tell him
SP: i never liked you anyway, so bye!
TGM: who do you love to follow on social
SP: cute animal accounts! but if i choose a person it'd be this lady who is a medical examiner
LETS GET PERSONAL
TGM: what's your favorite song to be seduced to
SP: it depends on the relationship because i listen to the lyrics.
TGM: describe your best sex in one word
TGM: when was the last time you had a good cry and what was it about
SP: i cry frequently... it was about being stressed and being injured and wanting to live up to my potential as far as my physical and body goes but but not being able to because of those injuries.
TGM: tell us about a female who taught you something and what that was
SP: i've had a lot of helpful teachers in my life, but recently i'd say my new boss. i've gone to her on the verge of tears because of all the injuries and because i was feeling discouraged and she taught me to just stop focusing on my injuries and to stay positive despite them. to work on the things i can do and not focus on what i can't. she pulled me out of that rut like no one has ever done before.
TGM: what makes you feel vulnerable
SP: i was reading something that said how we are all vulnerable in life in general, and once we accept that we can begin to really grow and be happy. with that being said, living in this earth makes me feel vulnerable. there are so many opportunities where we can fail and lose things, but at the same time we have to persevere past that.
TGM: what makes you blush
SP: being embarrassed in public, i blush hard too! people see me and they always say i am the same color as my hair... which i am not because my hair is orange and my face does not turn orange!
TGM: what's one thing you want recognition for
SP: i'd like people to know me for teaching people that there is a way to be happy now, no matter what is going on at this moment in time. we don't need to be controlled by anxieties.
TGM: what's one misconception you feel people have about you
SP: i think the biggest misconception through my entire life is that i enjoy being quiet... from elementary school until i turned 18 i actually had teachers and peers tell me they thought i was mute because i never spoke! and then something knocked that out of me because i was really unhappy being that way, but i was so shy and i had to go to social therapy and everything.
TGM: name something about yourself that you're currently working on
SP: being able to meditate regularly and regulate my anxieties to not feel them 24/7
TGM: name something about yourself you've made peace with
SP: my appearance... it wasn't until this year that i learned to like how i look. there was a long time that i just hated it because i couldn't understand my looks. it was hard based on where i grew up, when i was in elementary school and high school it was an all white community and i couldn't understand why i couldn't look pretty like them... and i think that just stayed with me for a while. but this year a few things happened, relationships ended, changes happened and i started to really love myself.
TGM: name something about yourself that you love
SP: my persistence
TGM: you're writing a note to your future self on a post-it, what do you say
SP: don't worry
TGM: finish these sentences... when i'm 82 I hope that ___
SP: I'm happy
TGM: NY is ___
SP: my home
TGM: I miss ___
SP: the way i felt in my childhood
TGM: my family is ___
SP: my best support system
TGM: my girlfriends are ___
SP: 100% different from each other