Cynthia Muniz opened her pole-dancing studio in 2010. Back then, the activity was still stigmatized as a stripper's sport. But over the next six years, she says, pole dancing has become recognized as a form of exercise, and her KittyKat Pole Dancing studio in Midtown Miami functions more like a gym (albeit one very sexy gym).
Now Muniz is looking to break the pole-dancing paradigm again, this time by offering a class at her studio for children and teens. She got the idea last year after learning of children's pole-dancing classes in Europe. But it hasn't caught too much traction on this side of the Atlantic. So far, Muniz has held only one class.
“There's a big pushback because of the pole,” Muniz says. “It's the acrobatic side we want to teach, not little girls in high heels wearing tutus and sexy dancing.”
For adults, pole dancing has been accepted as a form of exercise in recent years. It's been shown to help coordination and flexibility and relieve stress. Muniz believes children can reap the same benefits.
“I don't have to tell you that children are overweight,” Muniz says. “This is a great form of fitness. The pole for kids is no different than a barre for ballet. It's just inverted.”
Muniz says she noticed children who accompany their moms to class take naturally to the pole. “Kids love it,” she says. “They climb up and down and hang upside down. They just go for it.”
Last year, Muniz sent an email to her customers advertising the new class. But praise was limited. “Parents would say 'I love it, but the business is called KittyKat Pole Dancing,' and they'd have doubts. She still managed to gather four children to attend her first and only pole-dancing class for kids last year.
Muniz reports that four girls, ages 8 to 10, attended the class. Muniz started the class with children's music while the girls stretched. Then the kids hung on silk ropes and hung upside down, like monkeys. They hung on a hoop and spun around. They also played with Hula-Hoops. Then they climbed up and down the down the pole, learning different spins.
“I really liked it, and the kids really enjoyed it,” Muniz says. “I think people don't give pole dancing a chance, and they really should.”
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Muniz used to work as a pharmaceutical representative. Then she started taking pole-dancing classes at Crunch gym in South Beach. She loved it. When the instructor left, Muniz says she took her spot. That's how she got the idea for her own business. In 2006, she started it off as entertainment for bachelorette parties. By 2010, she figured she'd open her own studio. Now she offers chair dancing, pole dancing, stretching, and choreography.
The children's pole-dancing class is Muniz's latest idea. She says that just last week, a mother and daughter walked into the studio after seeing an ad for a "pole party." Muniz was disappointed because she saw the little girl's face light up but, she says, the little girl's mother quickly escorted her out after noticing the poles when they walked in.
Even though no one has signed up, Muniz keeps the class posted online, hoping one parent will be open-minded enough to give her studio a shot.
“Ten years ago, no one thought pole dancing could be exercise,” Muniz says. “And in ten years, pole dancing for kids will be a thing.”