Katie Coates Interview

KT – Britain’s Original Pole Dance Fitness Ambassador

If you have been learning to pole dance in the last 5 years, chances are; your first real research or point of contact will lead you straight to Katie Coates, or Vertical Dance.

[quote float=”left”]Katie was one of the first pole dancers in the UK to promote pole dance as a means for women to get fit, taking the stigma of seedyness away from it’s original past time, and bringing it forward into the present as a widely accepted sport.[/quote] She’s also ‘The Original X-Pole girl’!, and widely known as the first, the original, the only!

It has not been an easy ride for Katie, but as you read more from her bio, Katie has some impossibly huge achievements under her belt, some are of a global scale! She has inspired women worldwide to find strength and courage to carry out their dreams and better themselves.
Candy & Chrome wanted the opportunity to converse with her and learn more about the great struggles and great triumphs this lady has single handedly had to fight for, and to find out about the woman herself – BEFORE pole, during the hard times, and now as an inspirational leader, and Britain’s first pole dance ambassador.
This interview is about ‘What Katie did’…..

KT’s Biography:

KT Coates has been pole dancing for over 13 years. She has worked all over the world as a pole dancer, show girl and Vertical Dance™ Instructor.
KT is Ranked one of the top pole dancers and instructors the world, teaching pole fitness instructors and students from the UK, USA, France, Iceland, Canada, Holland, Italy, Portugal and many more.

KT has been heavily involved in sports from a young age, representing the east of England in netball and the county in hockey and athletics. She gained a BTEC National Diploma in sports studies, a CYQ exercise to music qualification, NCFE in Vertical Dance, a First Aid Certificate, Pole Dancing Public liability Insurance and full membership to the Register of Exercise Professionals. More recently she has become a certified group exercise instructor with Americas top fitness governing body ACE.
She has worked tirelessly to achieve recognition for pole dance as a reputable form of group fitness and provide the industry with standards and guidelines, resulting in the world’s first instructors qualification in Vertical Dance.
Leisure Industry Week saw the first of many presentations on Vertical Fitness from KT, she has also presented at Fit Camp in November 2007 and embarked on a workshop tour of the USA in July 2007. KT also performed and instructed in both Singapore and Malaysia in 2008.

KT is most proud of her series of Vertical Dance Workout DVDs that launched in September 07. She wrote and directed the DVDs.

Katie has a close relationship with X-Pole, helping to test and improve the product to its full potential. She is currently the face of X-Pole and presents the Instructional DVD that accompanies the pole.
In 2008 KT took part in the new series of Gladiators. She beat 20,000 hopefuls to win one of 16 places on the show. She got through to the quarter finals winning a place in the Gladiator hall of fame for her unmatched performance on hang tough, she beat both gladiators Tempest and Battle Axe managing to complete the course.
It was one of the most amazing experiences of her life and she feels honoured to have been part of the show.
KT took part in the BNBF (British Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Figure competition in July 2008 for the first time. She won both the competition and won best presentation, this qualified her to enter the British finals on October 2008. KT found out that she was pregnant a month before the finals so she could not commit as fully to the training and diet as she would have liked, but at 2 months pregnant she came a very respectable 4th in Britain. She just hoped that she will get her six pack back once she has her first child at the end of May 2009.

Candy & Chrome’s Interview:

KT Coates

Tiny:  Hi Katie, thank you for taking the time from your busy life to answer some questions for us.  My first question is boringly simple, but we want to know…. How old are you?

KT:  I’m 33 but certainly don’t feel it!

Tiny:  Or look it!  So, how did you first become interested in pole dancing…..where did it all start?

KT:  Hahahaha. I wish!

[quote float=”left”]I was never interested in pole dancing I fell into it by circumstance really.[/quote]

Like a lot of teenagers I didn’t get on with my parents so left home at 16, I had no education as such as I suffer from dyslexia (I have a spelling and reading age of an 8 year old and couldn’t read properly until I taught myself at 20)  I went off the rails a bit and began travelling as I didn’t really have any where to live. I became a holiday rep when I was 18 and was stationed out in Ibiza, I lasted about 3 months before I got bored of it and got a job in a club called Eden podium dancing, I then had a succession of dancing and entertaining  jobs in places such as manumission, amnesia, Es paradise and head dancer at El Divino. It came to the end of the season and I didn’t have a place to live or anywhere to move onto, then I got talking to a girl who said she had been offered a contact in Japan to pole dance and did I want to come, never one for letting the simple fact that I had never touched a pole let alone pole dance get in my way I said why not.

As always I blagged the audition and was given a free ticket and accommodation. All I had to do was dance three stage show a night for two songs, and take my clothes off to bikini (this is how long ago it was). My first night I watched the other girls perform and thought what the hell I can do that, so I got on stage to Madonna and my first move was a spinning invert (never one to be scared of any thing). I would then come into work early and practice on the pole, trying out moves and making up things.[quote float=”left”] I had the best time ever, made great money, found some where to live for the next year and fell in love with pole dancing.[/quote] I travelled all over the world performing until I was 26, when I decided to sort my life out and fulfil a life long dream and go to drama school. As every one knows your always a resting actor, so while I wasn’t doing that I heard that that people were taking pole dance classes and thought that I could combine my fitness skills with pole dancing and start up a school. Around the same time I met my boyfriend who is an IT genius and he helped me build a very basic website.

My first class got booked up right away and was a complete success. Within 3 months the classes and website were so busy I had to make a decision, either acting or pole dancing, and there wasn’t much competition, I also knew that the fitness route was the direction I wanted to take my business, because I wanted people to respect what I did. I am incredibly fortunate to have a job that I love and I am successful at, I never every thought that would happen.

Tiny:  So you were a crazy clubber babe from Essex then!  And just happened to get chucked on a pole whilst abroad!  You said you had to strip to bikini…..was the club in Japan a srtip club then?

KT:  No it was a hostess bar, it was great as it was next to a lady boy hostess bar and we would all go out. You could never tell the difference. lol

Tiny:  Oh cool!  Ok, well, what about Vertical Dance then – how did you get that off the ground?  Were you one of the first to offer this kind of dance class in the UK back then?

KT: When I look back I can not believe how easy it was to get vertical dance off the ground, I think the hardest part was finding a name. I was adamant that I didn’t want the word pole in the title, so that took some time to find.  Not so easy now!

KT CoatesIt wasn’t until we had been running for about 3 months did we decide to do a website. Five years ago it wasn’t so easy to just build your own website, you had to go to a web designer, pay a fortune and then continue paying a fortune for updates, but as I said before I had an IT genius for a boyfriend and he read a book on building websites and then built me one. It was really basic and looked very amateur, but what it did have was video clips which at the time there was no YouTube so we had a huge amount of traffic going through the site with people watching my pole dancing videos. He soon got fed up with me asking to do up dates on the website and taught me how to build my own site, so now I do every thing on it, which has been great as I can change the website when ever I want to and I don’t have to pay for the privilege.

There were a couple of other schools when I started but they were more for the party/fun market, it was all about feather boas and butt slapping, I knew that this was defiantly not the route I wanted to take. I had been heavily involved in sport when I was younger and studied sport at college and I could see the fitness benefits from pole dance. I knew that if I wanted to go down the fitness route and give pole dancing some credibility I had to take away the sexual aspect, so the first things to go were the high heals (even today I can not see how schools can call themselves pole fitness and then walk around in 6” heals, you can not do running, aerobics, athletics in heals there for they are not suitable for fitness), then the sexy clothing and finally the nipple flicking and the butt slapping. [quote float=”left”]Don’t get me wrong, there are many genres of pole dancing; fitness, sensual, acrobatic, dance, empowering and there is a place for all of them.[/quote] I just decided that the one the best suited me was the fitness route, it was also the one that was going to be more acceptable to critics.

So the answer to your question was that I believe I was the first to dedicate pole dancing to fitness.

Tiny:  Do you think that is what pushed pole dance into the ‘main stream’? Are you happier now that is has become more socially acceptable to learn how to pole dance?  Or would you have preferred it to have stayed  more niche?

KT:  I’m not too sure but I like to hope it did, I think there were quite a lot of schools and single people out there that also worked hard in their local areas to help spread the word, which is what it needed, I just did it on a bigger scale, by standing on my soap box a lot.  (KT giggles)

Yes I am defiantly more happier that it has become more socially acceptable, it was what I set out to achieve, I wanted to share a fantastic way of expressing yourself that would appeal not just to sport or dancey people but especially those who didn’t exercise or excel physically, because that is the beauty of pole dancing, any one, no matter what size or shape can get good.

Tiny:  So do you think the industry is going in the right direction now then?  Or are there too many ‘Bedroom Instructors’?

KT:  I defiantly think its going in the right direction. You will always get bedroom instructors in any kind of industry, you will always have good instructors and bad instructors, but because pole dancing/fitness is becoming a lot more main stream there is a lot more choice, this gives the student the opportunity to shop around and find good quality instruction, bad instructors can not hide now we have so much online for people to compare to.

Tiny:  (Giggling) – ‘there’s nowhere to hide now’ (Tiny giggles).  Tell us about the Vertical Dance Qualification?  It’s available to do online now for those of us who can’t travel!  Yey! Why would it be useful for instructors to acquire?  Should the qualification (or one similar) be a standard requirement do you think?

KT: Well I started the qualification over three years ago. The qualification has three levels, and you can either do it face to face or online. It is aimed at new or existing instructors. It is incredibly in depth and has just recently been updated to cover all aspects of pole fitness from health and safety, building routines and building strength to common mistakes that students make and not only that, it gives you the wealth of my knowledge and experience.

[quote float=”left”]I personally believe that education is the key when teaching[/quote] I would never go out and teach some thing I didn’t have the qualifications or skill to do so, how ever  I am not saying that every one who teaches pole should be made to go on my course, but what I am saying is that if you are going to teach some thing that is fitness based you need to at least have some sort of fitness qualification, you wouldn’t go to a unqualified doctor so you shouldn’t go to and un qualified fitness instructor. It also works the other way, if you have a fitness instructor with a qualification but they have no qualifications or experience in pole then you should be asking yourself should they be teaching. [quote float=”left”]Having a pole in your bedroom or going to a few lesson doesn’t qualify you to teach and its dangerous[/quote] and this is why I designed the course, I wanted people to have a good foundation to build their skills on. You can not teach instructors experience, they have to gain that on their own, but what I can do is to give a great head start and a base to work from.

I think that its important that instructors and students gets their own style.[quote float=”left”] I can never understand why some one would watch a few DVDs and then think they are an instructor, performing a move to the highest standard does not mean that you can teach it.[/quote]

So in answer to your question yes I do believe every one should be made to do some sort of recognised course in order to teach pole, be that a specific course on pole or a fitness course and every one out there with a qualification in either pole or fitness would agree with me and I am sure those that don’t would disagree.

Tiny:  Tell us some history about the IPF….. you were a board member originally, why was it set up and why do you think it failed?

KT: Yes it was an objective of the IPF, I had already got the qualification going before the IPF cam along and we decided that instructors who wanted to become part of the IPF should be required to have some sort of dance, fitness or pole qualification in order to become part of the organisation. It also wanted to set out guide lines for competitions and events, as well as collating and naming all of the pole dance moves.

The IPF came about after a few of us getting our heads together and deciding that if pole dancing was to be recognised as a reputable form of dance and fitness it needed to have some guidelines like every other sport/fitness/dance does. Unfortunately a small minority wrongly believed we wanted to tell them what to do, so the IPF never went any further. I still believe it’s the way forward but I can not see any federation or association working as there is too much in fighting and no one can agree on anything. Its sad really as pole dancing suffers because of it.

Tiny:  I think you are best known for doing great things for pole such as increasing public awareness, cleaning up the image, contibuting towards pole becoming socially acceptable, the pole dancing world record, pole unity, educating enthusiasts and dancers alike…..But you are also well know also for having the odd ‘mood swing’. Many people will percieve this as passion for what you do and standing up for your right to do it your way, but others have percieved it as general moodiness!  Which do you think it is and how have things changed for you?

[quote float=”left”]I think the term I heard is ice queen[/quote](KT laughs out loud)! I find this a really funny as I always get people saying to me your nothing like people say you are when they meet me. The problem with pole dancing is its a 99% female activity and this unfortunately brings jealousy, bitchyness and back stabbing, people would rather be nice to your face and then talk about you behind your back or on forum where they hide behind the anonymity of the internet,  I am not the sort of person to do or tolerate that, if I think of believe in some thing I will say it to your face and unfortunately people can’t handle that so they call me moody. I love pole dancing but I hate the nastiness that goes with it so I now don’t involve myself with any one negative.

There have been a few things that have changed for me but I think one of the turning points for me was the European miss pole dance championships, I had already been very vocal about my distrust of John Benner, lots of people had bad mouthed me about it saying he was a good person and that I was jealous. Then he proves me right and those people who were singing his praises are now calling for his blood, it made me realise that its just not worth the effort and I have better things to concentrate on and being a hypocrite is not one of them. Now I have my beautiful baby ‘Blossom’ who is the most important thing in my life and it make’s being bothered about the above less significant.

Tiny:  Do you think there are too many people cashing in on pole dancing now it has reached a certain popularity level?

KT:  There will always be people who cash in on the next big thing and pole dancing is no exception, while a lot of people get angry by this I don’t, I see it as spreading the popularity and helping get more people to take it up, which is great for all of us.

Tiny:  Do you think pole has reached it’s peak?  Is VD likely to expand?

KT:  When I first started out I always thought that it would only last a year and 5 years on its still going so no I don’t think so. I don’t think pole is a fad, I do think it is a trend and trends come and go, so I think that may happen with pole, but who knows, I always keep some thing up my sleeve just in case.
This year I have been concentrating on Blossom as I didn’t see the point in having a baby to let some one else look after her, but now she is six months I’m getting back into the swing of things. I also have a new business idea I will hopefully be starting in the new year but Mums the word just in case it doesn’t work.

Tiny:  What motivated you to start Pole Unity?

KT:  I ran the first interschool amateur pole dance competition about four years ago and I found that everyone loved performing but there could only be one winner, so I decided to invite schools and groups to take part in a show case, this way any one of any level could take part in a non competitive show. It has been a great success, I have over 50 schools and groups on the waiting list for 2010 and I haven’t even advertised it yet. Everyone loves to perform and watch and the standard just gets better and better, its also lovely to meet and net work with other schools.

Tiny:  I think originally you are one of the first schools to set a certain ‘standard’ of learning with your beginner/intermediate/advanced level requirements.  This has stood well for 5 years so far and VD has gone from success to success, but how will you now push yourself now that those standards have been broken?

KT:  Good question…..I am working on that now, you will be surprised how much having a baby takes from your body, I am just about ready to step up so watch this space.

Tiny:  What about pole competitions?  Are you likely to enter any?  If not, why not?

KT CoatesKT:
  I think every one should try out a competition if they are interested in the competitive side of pole dance, how ever in some cases they shouldn’t expect to win EVEN IF they are the best person on the night. I feel that most (not all before I get jumped on!) of the judges are ill equipped to stand as a judge, I have been to competitions where DJs, look a likes, ballet dancers and pop stars have been judges, but what do they know about pole dancing? There is no structured criteria to look for and no regulations. Most of the competitions are held in night clubs with girls wearing 6″ heals and stripper costumes and it’s the same old people winning them, while I have nothing against that at all, you can not call them fitness. I wouldn’t be interested in taking part I any competitions because firstly I don’t see myself as a performer any more I am an instructor of instructors, I am 33 years old and not getting any younger and while I feel I am one of the best instructors out there (if I may say so myself), I am certainly not the best dancer (however I and up there as a perfomer).[quote float=”left”]I have no flexibility and unfortunately to win any competitions now its about who can do the most tricks whilst bent in half! I am leaving the competitions to the young ones![/quote] How ever if there is a good well structured pole fitness competition I would be more than happy to judge. Just in case any one that does organise a competition is reading this have you thought about offering pro cards to your winners, that means that they can then only perform in pro competitions, that way other people won’t be put off entering your competition because the same people keep winning ……but it would mean getting together with other competition organisers to sort this out and I doubt that will happen.

Tiny:  What about your other triumphs?  You have entered body building championships?  Tell us about that.

KT CoatesKT:  Apart from having Blossom, my greatest achievement is Vertical Dance, I am dyslexic and have a spelling and number age if an eight year old, also part of my dyslexia is that I can not collate and retain information, I couldn’t read properly until I was 20 and I never dreamt I could have been a successful business woman. Because of Vertical Dance I am very good with a computer, I can build my own websites, do my own accounts,I’m a qualified fitness instructor, boot camp instructor and hula instructor and because of Blossom and my interest in fitness I am in the middle of qualifying in pre and postnatal fitness. I was never meant to amount to anything when I was at school so it really does mean a lot to me.

I have done quite a lot in my life and I am always pushing myself to do better, Gladiators was defiantely up there and also body building was fun. I did the body building as a laugh, I already had the physique and I love performing on stage so it was easy, I only wanted to do it for a year but I came 4th in Britain 3 months pregnant, which is an achievement in itself as I couldn’t diet and only wanted to eat cake, so I thought it would be a good goal to compete this year to inspire myself to loose the weight and I came second in my qualifier 8 weeks after having blossom and then 6th in Britain at the finals, I was disappointed as I hate loosing but I had only just had a baby. I have said I want to move on to a challenge that had a point such as rowing but I am waiting until I stop breast feeding next year.

I will say that having a world record on my wall is quite a triumph. Its great to think that such an iconic symbol has accepted pole dancing enough to give us a record.

Tiny:  What was it like batteling against the Gladiators?  And what sort of reaction did you get back from the show after telling everyone watching that you were a pole dance fitness instructor?

KT Coates

KT:  Gladiators is in my top three greatest achievements. It was a dream come true to get chosen out of 20,000 people to go on to the show. As a child I watched it every Saturday and when my boyfriend told me they were thinking of brining it back I knew I was going to get on the show. The whole experience from start to finish was fantastic, it was like an adults play ground. The event I was looking forward to was hang tough and it didn’t disappoint, it was made for pole dancers!!! I am proud to say that I am in the gladiators hall of fame for being unbeaten on that event.

Part of the reason I got on to the show was because I wasn’t your average fitness instructor, PE teacher or personal trainer like many were, they loved the pole dancing angle and its one of the first things I have done where I haven’t met any negativity. I do think they really did under estimate me though, I think they thought I was there just to add a bit of scandal….how wrong were they!

Tiny:  What plans do you have for the future?  Will there be another Vertical Dance DVD? or another World Record?

KT:  As I said before I have another business idea up my sleeve so I am working on that at the moment, but we are looking to move forward on the teacher training and with accessories, not sure about the DVD, I have some great ideas but I don’t like doing anything cheaply, so we will have to see on that one. With regards to another world record……it was one of the hardest things I have had to organise and I have done it twice, so probably not, but my new motto is never say never!

6 thoughts on “Katie Coates Interview

  1. Why thank you Bird, glad you liked it!

    I got plenty of other interviews with pole dancers, and plenty more to come!
    Also doing pole dance DVD reviews too now so keep an ear out!

    Tiny xXx
    Snogs for you.

  2. Too bad the pole is still associated with women getting their kit off, prostitution and misogyny. Personally, I feel much more empowered when my exercise routine is not sexualized.

    1. Hi Pookie,

      Personally I think pole should be whatever the dancer wants it to be. I don’t think chicks who do it slutty should be blasted for it – I mean belly dance is also considered as exotic dancing in some cultures is it not? Yet people don’t get too huyty toity about this.
      However, if you are of the fitness culture then yes, it should be practised as any other form of fitness would – such as gymnastics for example.

      Either way, people can debate this topic til the cows come home about what pole should or shouldn’t be but for me…..why label it at all?

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