Interview with Zara Berry

Posted: Sep 26 2012

With the launch of the Pole Factor 2012/2013 competition just around the corner, we talk to judge Zara Berry to find out more...

1.You’re judging at Pole Factor Launch Event. What will you be looking for from the competitors' performances?
The main things I look out for are the elegance of the performance, confidence of the performer, how well they have combined their costume with their music theme and  how well they perform to their audience and judges.

2.What do you think makes a good judge?

3. How and did you first get interested in pole dancing and what made you become an instructor/performer?
I had just got my diploma in Dance College and didn’t know if I wanted to go to university or not as I felt it’s how well you perform and look in the dance industry not how many qualifications you have unless you’re looking to perform on the West End. 

I went for an Interview with a pole company I had seen in the job centre advertising ‘Fitness Instructor Required’ me naturally thinking gym instructor. I had turnt up to the interview walking into a room with two poles up with no Pole experience but just Dance. There must have been 30 ladies in that lesson that day all of which were more experienced then me at the time. The owner spoke to me for a while then asked me to teach the second half as part of my interview, now at this point I was petrified but had the attitude that there is nothing I can’t do. 

I prepared myself watching the girls practice on the break and then away I went. I had the instructor at the time shadow me but mainly left me to it. Where I am trained from college to teach and dance it all came quite natural to me and had so much fun teaching this form of sport. After I had finished teaching the second half of the lesson the owner offered me the Job that I accepted straight away. I was so excited. 

The next day I went to Anne Summers not knowing where else to go to get a book with pole moves in it to start learning. I picked up a book by Rebecca Drury and self-taught myself from there. I have worked for two companies throughout the years and then decided to start up my own pole school called Zara’s Unique Pole Fitness. This is where I get the attitude that anyone can do Pole Dancing.

4.What is it about pole dancing that you enjoy the most?
I enjoy the feeling after achieving a move that has been getting on my nerves for weeks. The fitness of it makes me feel great. The fact that Pole Dancing has so many varieties of moves and levels that you can choose what you fancy doing. Also the fact that there are loads of competitions offering all levels to build confidence and get the chance to get you out there and noticed. I also love the social side of it meeting new people daily at all levels.

5.What are your 3 favourite pole moves? 
a) Ariel Handspring
b) Split reverse grab
c) Shoulder mount into several moves.

6.What are the main fitness benefits of pole dancing and how have pole dancing improved your fitness, strength or bodyshape?
The main benefit from pole fitness is it massively improves your upper body strength, stamina, lines the abs up and toughens the legs.

7.What are your favourite moves for strength training on the pole?
I use three types always at the beginning of every lesson I teach no matter what level. First one is I get my girls placing strongest hand above weaker hand placing both above the head, hips to the pole inhale lifting on the arms to get head above the hands (hold keeping the body in line with the pole) and then exhale coming down slowly trying to keep their feet of the floor and see how many they can do, if only one I will then ask for them to push themselves next lesson to achieving two and so on. 

Second, strength work we do is same hands position as the first strength we do lift again head above hands but instead of keeping the body in line with the pole they are to lift their legs up in front in a split position and lift as high as they can. And third I get them climbing the pole to the top slide down to the bottom keeping the feet of the floor and climb again. All three of these strengths they work on are the three main things we use in pole, arms, legs and abs.

8.What pole performers do you admire or inspire you?
I always enjoy watching Jenyne, Felix and Jamilla. All three I am just amazed by.

9.How has the pole dance industry changed since you first started out and how can it improve as pole dancing becomes more popular and accepted in the mainstream.
It really depends when you start. I remember when I first started learning the harder more advance moves a basic handspring was just like WOW where now more and more moves just keep coming about making the handspring look like a baby. This is one of many things I love about pole. I have noticed over the years Pole Fitness has started to get a better name for its self the more Pole Fitness has got popular. There is a lot of people that can be opinionated on the word Pole Dancing however it really is a fantastic and hard sport and the only way I feel their opinion will change is if they tried it themselves.

10.If someone has never tried pole dancing before how to they get started?
I always get new ladies coming to my classes and some do privates like 121 sessions to build their confidence and then join a class. I get a lot of ladies that have never poled before and very rarely exercise on a daily basis these I love the most as I can get my claws into them. I would start them from the very first basic spins (Fireman Sam) etc. build their confidence up and then work on grips and as time goes on and their confidence grows I then start inverts etc. Everyone can do Pole Dancing no matter what size or shape they are, there is always room to build on your strength throughout lessons and confidence. If someone didn’t want to attend a school there is always sites like YouTube and DVD's, however you would need to get a pole beforehand to practice on.

11.What’s next for you in the coming year?
Build my school, go to several master classes to gain more knowledge on moves for me to pass on and enter more competitions.

To find out more about Zara check out her pole school website here

To find out more about the Pole Factor competition look at their website here


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