Interview with Diana Garneij the Dinali Center Sweden

Posted: Nov 12 2011

As pole dancing is now such an international phenomenon, with pole studios all over the world, we talk to Scandinavia's finest Diana Garneij of the Dinali Center Sweden.

1. How and did you first get interested in pole dancing and what made you become an instructor?
Growing up in the north of Sweden, I must say I had no idea you could use pole dance as a fitness form when I moved to LA to study in 2003. I started out as a student at SFactor in Los Angeles in the beginning of 2006 after hearing about it on Oprah. I got totally hooked right from the start and took as many lessons as possible until I moved back to Sweden at the end of 2007. In Sweden we moved in to and old school house in the north of Sweden. In the beginning I was a bit upset - there simply were NO pole dance-studios in my "town" - (the suburb where we live: pop. 2700, the closest city: pop. 30.000). There were a few in Stockholm but since that's a 3 hour drive, taking classes there was out of the question. After feeling sorry for myself for a while I realised that we lived in a house that would be PERFECT for pole dance - big rooms, high ceilings (almost 11 feet) and best of all - it was FREE (since we rented the whole house). I decided to remodel part of the house and turn it in to a pole dance studio. While remodelling I started a test group to see if they at all would like the idea of pole dance in my town. Three ladies; my mother in law, my sister in law and my husbands aunt - they were the test crew. I gave them lessons in our 170 sqft bedroom... I opened up the first studio in Ljusne/Söderhamn at the end of January 2009 (apparently the staff at the local newspaper laughed at the memo they got about the opening...). The classes filled up immediately and I even had to open up more classes to make room for all the students. In 2010 I opened up my second studio in Gävle and in 2011 I opened up my THIRD studio in Sundsvall. I now run Sweden’s first chain of pole dance-studios, have 10 active instructors and 9 are in our training program to become instructors. We have added XPoles/Crunch Gyms XPert training as part of our trainee program and this summer we became the first studio in Sweden to have instructors certified through this program. This year we also hired Justine McLucas (Ecole de Pole, UK) as our artistic manager and she has designed our new coursework - VERY exciting. We have international guest instructors to come teach at Dinali Center (the name of the chain) on a regular basis - Michelle Stanek, Justine McLucas and Natasha Wang are the latest ones!

2. What was your first lesson like? How did you feel?
I remember my first lesson as if it took place yesterday. Driving to the studio in LA I was soooo nervous and kept on repeating to myself "Im never gonna make it, I cant pole dance, the other girls are gonna be so much better than me, probably 6 feet tall all of them, flying around like they're weightless, blond hair - just the "right" pole dance-look, and then there will be me, not even being able to get up from the floor, Im gonna cancel, yup, Ill call the studio to cancel right now, oh god Im gonna throw up...". My hands were shaking as I had to tear them away from the steering wheel and force myself to walk in to the studio. Even though I have a dancers background I was feeling so insecure about this new style movement. I dont know hat made me finally walk in to the studio, but when I got in there and saw all the "normal" looking ladies I thought to myself " oh god, how on earth is anyone of us going to be able to pole dance, we don't look like pole dancers anyone of us...". It took about 60 minutes in to the class for me to relax and realize that we we're ALL beginners that COULD learn how to move in a feminine and sensual way AND be strong at the same time. Pole dancing REALLY was for everyone. I left the class feeling euphoric and wanting more more more MORE.

3.  What is it about pole dancing that you enjoy the most?
When it comes to pole dance I absolutely LOVE the way it makes me feel - empowered, string, feminine, sensual - all in a warm lovely mix. In our western society it still is not ok for a woman to be sensual - and absolutely NOT for her own sake. Pole dance is the perfect way to explore and let out sides of yourself you never knew you had. You become more accepting of yourself and your body which I think is amazing. I myself had been struggling with a bunch of different eating disorders before starting my pole dance-journey. After just a couple of lessons my whole perspective of who I was and the relationship to my own body just changed. All of a sudden I WAS good enough, strong enough and able enough to do whatever I wanted and accomplish whatever I set my mind to. So on top of getting a toned body, I got a toned mind as well!

4. What are your 3 favourite pole moves and why? 

1. Extended Front Split Back Aysha - Justine McLucas new move - LOVE it!
2. Cocoon - What a powerful and demanding move!
3. Allegra (extended) - The perfect mixture of elegance, strength and flexibility!

5.What are the main fitness benefits of pole dancing and how have pole dancing improved your fitness, strength or body shape?
In 2010 I had my first baby. She's born on a monday and I kept on teaching until the thursday the week before. I did back somersaults on the floor until I was in week 36 and on the last thursday I was teaching I did tricks and climbs on the pole. As I said my daughter was born on the monday, and after three weeks I taught my first bachelorette since giving birth. NONE of this would have been possible without pole dance, Im totally sure of that. Pole dance prepared me and my body to give birth and then get back on track quite soon after giving birth. Today I don't teach as much myself - I mostly do administrative work and train our future instructors. But since I got in such good shape while teaching I still have killer abs and arms - thank you pole dance!

6.Pole performers are athletes like in any other sport. What is an average day’s training for you and how often do you train each week?
As previously stated I dont train as much myself anymore. I have chosen to take a step back from teaching to be able to have time to spend with my daughter. I do pop in to classes every once in a while though - just CAN'T stop myself =).

7. Do you have you're own pole at home? if not would you like to?
I have the first opened studio on the first floor of our house, then another room on the top floor has got two poles in it. So yes - mama's got pole! I think everyone should have one at home. It's such a great way to practice moves at home. I hear a lot of our students say that once they've installed the pole at home, their guys take property of it and start using it more than the ladies. They all of a sudden realize that its a damn hard and tough exercise regimen! 

8. If someone has never tried pole dancing before how to they get started?
They simply contact us through We put all of courses, trials and workshops on that page. It's also possible to book privat parties if they're a group of friends (girls AND guys are welcome!) that would like to try it out. Our students has so far been between the ages of 16-67. NO previous dance experience is necessary, and you dont have to be either strong or flexible. The only thing you need is an open mind and the will to try out something new!

9. What’s next for you in the coming year?
Right now Im in Laguna Woods for vacation. I'm hoping to have the time to go to some awesome pole classes while Im here. We're at the end of 2011 so we're running our last courses for the year right now. 2012 is going to be BUSY - we have some international plans (still secret!) and are discussing ways to make the company grow even stronger and to be able to offer new and exciting classes for our students!

Find out more about Diana and her pole studio here

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