A CORK microbiologist is shedding her lab coat in favour of something a little more risqué after being selected to compete in the World Pole Dance Championships.
Jenny Schmiedel is busy balancing lab duties with practising her routine for the contest which takes place in Tianjin, China, next Monday.
The performer took up pole fitness while still a teenager and teaches classes regularly at her studio, EM Fitness and Nutrition, on Model Farm Road.
“I was around 15 or 16 when I decided I wanted to do this.”
“I grew up in the middle of nowhere so I’m not sure exactly how I got it into my head. The only sport I had taken an interest in before that was horse riding,” said Jenny. There was something about the strength and grace of the women involved in pole fitness that I really admired. I come from a very open family so my parents were nothing but supportive.
“They were just happy that I’d found something I was interested in and was passionate about taking it to the next level.”
Jenny is keen to inspire others to follow their own path.
“I always find that people have expectations of you depending on your age. It’s unrealistic to think that we should have ‘the man’, house and kids by the age of thirty when everyone works at their own pace. In order to be happy you have to do what’s right for you.”
Jenny’s colleagues have also expressed interest in her exploits.
“It was actually announced that I was heading to the championships at a lab meeting. My boss is super excited about the whole thing.
“Everyone at work is really happy for me. One of my colleagues is even taking one of my classes.”
Pole fitness has been more than just a sport for Jenny.
“People don’t believe me when I tell them I wasn’t always this confident. There was a time when I was really shy about performing in such little clothing.
“A few years ago I had put on a lot of weight, which was difficult, but I took getting back into shape very seriously and hired a personal trainer.
“My hope is to use pole fitness to help others feel good about themselves too. She stressed that pole fitness is a labour of love. I’m covered from head to toe in bruises, only I don’t call them bruises.I call them pole kisses,” she laughed
According to Jenny, pole fitness is gradually being mainstreamed. “There were a few people with misconceptions when I started out,” she said.
“One person asked me what club I worked in! Attitudes are definitely changing now though and I think people are recognising it as a sport.”