The term pole dancing creates many different pictures in peoples' minds. For many of us it might mean a striptease dance which can be seen, well, at strip clubs. For continuously growing audience around the world it also means a fantastic and demanding form of sports which combines music and dance elements to amazing aerial acrobatics.
I had the pleasure of having a great afternoon coffee session (with some tricks of course!) with my friend and World Pole Dance Champion 2014 (3 time champion!) Oona Kivelä at Warrior Coffee House in Helsinki. We are proud to provide you this interview of a true Warrior and example to others.
What's up Oona? How has your day started today?
Pretty good thanks. It's my first day off in 2 weeks. I had a great, long sleep and spent the first 2 hours in the morning thinking about love. I recommend it to everybody, it sets a good tone to your day. Then I arrived at your coffee house to get some of this excellent coffee. Happy to be here, even though your concept coffee house is not yet open to the public.
Sounds like a blast, great to have you here. We'd love to hear a bit more about your background and what you are up to nowadays?
Lets go back to my childhood when I was 9. I was madly in love with all kinds of tricks and gymnastics. I was already into hand stands and tricks at the time. I just loved gymnastics so much. Later on, when I was coaching in gymnastics, we came up with an idea about developing the concept of human movement further and take the stiffness and competitiveness out. We wanted to give kids the opportunity to experience the same things as I did when I was a kid - the joy from succeeding with all kinds of tricks, not to only teach the kids about healthy living and movement, but also giving them mental joy naturally.
We wanted to build a concept to combine all these different movements and combine it to a new style gym. Our childrens' gym Gymi was born. We took the best parts from gymnastics, parkour, etc. and we added lots of fun to it. We want kids to adapt to a healthy way of living. Currently, we have 3 gyms in Finland and are looking to expand into other countries soon.
When we started the business in 2008, I accidentally met 'the pole'. I started noticing that performing all these tricks is in fact possible on the pole, and it gives a totally new perspective to movement. I felt I found my love - a love that was missing in my life. The pole. I don't actually consider myself a pole dancer, instead I see it as a bigger picture of movement, performing and competing. I love how I can do perform differently on a pole. I started competing in 2009 with the pole.
What and Who inspires you?
I get inspired by music and simple things. Moods, colors, movement and some rare, special people inspire me. I don't have one exact person or an idol in my mind, but I'm rather picking the best inspiration from many people.
Goal setting. Since you compete, tell us how you work with goals?
That's a very, very good question. What I've done right with my goal setting is that after setting my goal I begin to mentally understand what it will actually take to reach that goal. I mean, ask yourself, are you really understanding and committing to reaching a goal(s) you set for yourself? Many people often don't realise what the goal takes, or people are not ready to commit to that goal. I think that's one of my strengths, even though it's not easy for me either.
I'm running my own Gymi health concept so it takes a lot out of me, but I'm very dedicated. I wanted to win the World Pole Championships which I reached in 2011, so then my new goal was to win it again. After winning almost every competition within the last 2 years, in came the low season. I didn't win, but I've been close to winning and working hard to win again. In 2014 I saw many personal victories and have won many competitions (and conquered personal goals) again. I think my recipe works, my 3 time track record at the World Pole Championships is proof of that.
You must be very busy, how do you combine all the training and coaching?
I have no idea! :)
What do you do when you relax, if exercising is not counted?
I sleep and take naps. I love naps. I can't listen to music at all, because I always see movement when I hear music. Yin yoga works for me.
Tell us something nobody else knows about you?
Thanks Riku, I like challenges! OK.. I have a horrible tendency of thinking about things that appeal to me in the TV series Ally McBeal - I mean I'm often playing with the idea "What would happen if I would do something totally unexpected, in various situations?". For example kiss someone or pull someone's pants down :)
OK, that's a great secret revealed! Remember to check peoples' facial expressions when you give them a thoughtful look next time ;)
What is your advice to people who would like to take their lives to the next level, what are the basic elements?
You need somebody who's going to beat you up (ok, what I mean is somebody who gives you all the motivation, positive push and more) and you're going to love it. Pick a person who will positively help get the best out of you - we can't do it alone, all of us need help.
You teach kids to move at Gymi. Tell us a little about how sport fits into the lives of kids' today?
There is nothing but potential in this area. Every kid wants to move. It's not about a hobby you need to pick. It's either life or death, and moving means life (a better life!). No excuses. Learning something new gives everybody strength and motivation - moving is crucial and it needs to be fun. If it's not fun, you're doing it wrong. We teach basic skills in a fun way, simply.
The word Warrior - what does it mean to you?
A simple, motivated and focused person, striving towards an ultimate goal.
Can you tell us a bit about your favourite coffees or coffee shops, if there is some?
I like Kaffa Roastery café in Helsinki Punavuori district. I live close by. A large cappuccino is what makes my heart beat. I always love coming back from my travels and drinking coffee in Helsinki, because I really don't like the coffee elsewhere (yes New York, I'm talking to you).
So how much do you travel?
I travel almost every month for the pole workshops and shows. I just did 2 shows and workshops in September in Sweden for the New Circus Festival. I also won the Street Workout World Championship in the Women's category in September - that was fun! We are also expanding our Gymi health concept overseas, starting in Sweden, which means more traveling.
What about your nutrition, how do you keep yourself fit, what do you eat?
I eat normal, clean, healthy food. I don't use any nutrition supplements, I probably should but I'm so puzzled with all of that, hence, I don't take any at the moment.
Fantastic stuff! A huge thank you Oona for sharing your motivating story to our followers. You're an inspiration to us and many others around the globe, so let's keep spreading the motivation! Is there something you would like to add or tell our audience?
Try a hand stand today, it's never too late! :)