Canadian born Fawnia Mondey is the pioneer of pole dancing instruction as she produced the world’s first instructional video on how to pole dance. Since her start in 94 Fawnia has produced seven instructional DVDs, taught thousands of women worldwide, and owns ‘Pole
Fitness Studio’ in Las Vegas, NV. USA. Fawnia is respected judge for pole competitions around the world at the highest of levels including the World Pole Dance Championships, the World Pole Sports Championships by the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) and the International Pole Championships (IPC) hosted by the International Pole Dance Fitness Association (IPDFA).
With over 20 years experience teaching, Fawnia’s certifications include Personal Training, Group Fitness, iKick, Zumba, and PiYo. Seeing the demand for safe and effective pole dancing instruction, Fawnia created the Pole Dance Instructor Certification (PDIC) which is a complete training program and guide for running a safe, informative and successful pole dancing school.
Fawnia wrote the forward for The complete Idiots Guide to Exotic and Pole dancing Illustrated (Paperback) in 2007 and was voted The United Pole Artists Pro-Poler of the year 2011. In addition to teaching at Pole Fitness Studio, Fawnia instructs pole dancing workshops at the
University of Las Vegas (UNLV) and also offer education lectures at UNLV's "Dance 103: Sex, Dance and Entertainment" class. Fawnia is on the board of directors for the Pole Fitness Association (PFA) and on the Olympic committee for the International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) as an Elite Athlete with efforts towards the 2020 Olympics. The Pole Dance Community (PDC) awarded Fawnia with the PDC Pioneer Award in 2012. During the International Pole Championships (IPC) in Singapore Fawnia was awarded the IPDFA Industry Leader of the Year award for 2014. Locally she was awarded Las Vegas Top 100 Women of Influence for 2014.
In 2011 Fawnia created Pole Expo and hosted the worlds first Pole Expo in 2012 in Las Vegas. In 2018 Pole Expo has grown to be the largest event of its kind welcoming attendees from over 50 countries.
Fawnia produced the world’s first instructional video Pole Work, volume 1 in 1998 and went on to produce six more titles: ‘Dance Moves & Floor Work”, “Fawnia Live in Stage”, Lap Dancing & Entertaining Your Man”, “Making Fitness Fun” (formally “Fitness for the Dancer” ), “Male Exotic Dancing”, and “Advanced Pole Work & Fire”. Fawnia has also graced the pages of four Playboy special edition magazines, plus Playboy's Best of Canadian Girls Calendar, the March 2003 cover of Muscle Mag International, and back cover of Oxygen Magazine and three spreads in Muscle & Fitness Magazine.
Fawnia works closely with BodyBuilding.com as a writer and spokes model to promote health and fitness alongside their amazing team at events such as The Arnold Sports Festival, The Olympia, and The UFC expo in Las Vegas.
Since Fawnia began teaching pole dancing in 1994, she has seen the pole fitness industry grown exponentially to include a broad range of products, pole moves and techniques, and launch the careers of countless super star instructors and performers. Creating Pole Expo in 2011 with her friend Kerri Friedman will always be pivotal time in her career, solidifying Fawnia's position as a leading pioneer in the world of Pole Fitness.
In 2014 Arnold Schwarzenegger welcomed Pole Fitness into the Arnold Sports Festival as an official sport. Fawnia was the emcee for the anagual Pole Championship Series, which will be held annually, along with workshops and a variety of pole fitness competitions for both women and men.
Twice a year Fawnia speaks at UNLV to the students of the Dance 103 class (Sex, Dance & Entertainment) about the history and future of pole fitness. In fact several key pole fitness pioneers have been working hard to get Pole Sport recognized by the Olympics.
The History of Pole Dancing
Where and When did "Pole" Begin?
Modern dance pole dancing has evolved into exercise from practiced by not only professional and performers but by everyone from casual students and fitness enthusiasts to national and internationally recognized pole athletes. The world of Western Pole dates back a lot further then many would imagine. Pole is practiced today by both women and men and is a fusion of Chinese pole, Indian Pole or ‘Mallakhamb’, other circus based (eg. Dutch and French pole) exotic dance of various international influences and pole dancing as seen in the travelling fairs of the American Depression.
Chinese pole is usually what comes to mind when thinking about the history of pole fitness and you would not be wrong. The history of ‘Chinese Pole’ dates back to prior to the 12th century, when professionals of the era would use a pole, approximately 3 – 9 meters in height, laced with a rubber material and wear fully body costumes.
Performances of the Chinese pole were less fluid than performances we now see using a pole, due to the grip from the pole and the costume, but many tricks like ‘the flag’ holding straight out at a 90 degree angle to the pole using nothing but arm strength, are still being used to this day. Chinese acrobats would display climbing, sliding down, stretching and holding positions using acute strength and skill. Performers of this time would regularly have burn marks on their shoulders from performing and training which became a way for them to identify and have respect for one another within this art form.
With the flips and jumps, sometimes performed with two or more performers and poles there is much crossover to this day between these Chinese circus performances using pole and that of Cirque Du Soleil.
The Indians also have a ‘pole’ tradition of some form dating back to over 800 years and originating in Maharashtra. This form was referred to as “Pole Mallakhamb” and was intended as a way for wrestlers to train. Yes, wrestlers! The literal translation meaning ‘wrestler of pole’; “Malla” = ‘wrestler’ and “Khamb” = ‘of pole.’
The Indians would often play competitively, using a smooth wooden pole with a base diameter of 55cm and thinner diameter at the top of 35cm, which was sometimes laced with a castor oil to avoid friction. They would wear little clothing, taken from inspirations of yoga clothing or they would wear similar clothing to swear and no shoes to allow better skin to pole grip. They became pole flip specialists and would often begin a performance by running up and flipping directly on the pole. No easy feat by any means, as it required a great deal of precision and agility.
Pole Mallakhamb was used to develop speed, reflexes, concentration and co-ordination. Training in this form helped to increase stamina, strength and endurance. It was believed that this type of training was beneficial in practicing many other games and sports such as Wrestling, Judo, Athletics, Horse-riding, and it improved flexibility, grace, swiftness and rhythm especially for gymnasts.
Nowadays there are national Mallakhamb championships involving 14 states in India, and is a very male dominated environment in which women do not participate.
HOW DO THESE FORMS COMPARE TO POLE AS WE NOW KNOW IT?
The Western World
Pole as now evolved into a modern day exercise form, not just for professionals and performance and not just for one sex. The world of western Pole dates back a lot longer when you would imagine.
Pole Dance in the Olympics
An effort to include pole dancing in the Olympics was initiated by K.T. Coates. International Pole Dance Fitness Association (IPDFA) founder, Ania Przeplasko and Pole Fitness Studio (PFS) founder, Fawnia Mondey strongly support this idea and both have in many interviews highlighted this cause. IPDFA and PFS seek to gain the International Olympic Committee’s recognition of pole dance as a sport. US Pole Sports Federation (USPSF) is the national federation and the US governing body for Pole Sports. It was founded in 2014 under the name US Pole Sports Federation, and is a non profit 501c3 along with being a non-governmental national organization constituted under US law. The Federation is a member of the Pole Sports & Art World Federation (POSA), one of the international governing bodies for pole sports and the host of the Pole Sports and Arts World Championships and Pole Art Worlds. The USPSF is a leader in the community and is working towards Pole Sports being recognized globally as a sport and the eventual inclusion into main stream sport events and the Olympic Games.
Modern Day Pole Dancing
The US, Europe, Australia and Asia quickly followed, with pole dancing and pole fitness classes, studios, academics, competition and training spaces opening worldwide. So today, modern pole is a combination of these centuries’ old techniques, and has evolved into a modern day form that relies heavily on dance as well as fitness skills.
The fusion of the finely tuned circus performer skills and of the Chinese, and the energetic acrobatic skills of the Indians and the alluring and sensuous dance skills of the Western world, are what make up pole dancing as we know it today.
Going forward, Pole Expo, founded by Fawnia Mondey, is joining with US Pole Sports Federation, president by Summer Vyne, in Las Vegas September 2018 to grow as a community and continue making history.