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In the episode, we are blessed with the presence of Dr. Kristen Nichole. She is a performance artist, scholar, educator, trainer, coach, entrepreneur, mother, and wife. Kristen is a south Florida native and graduate of The University of Central Florida (B.S. in Psychology) and The University of Miami (M.S.Ed in Community and Social Change). Kristen also has a Ph.D. in Applied Social and Community Psychology from North Carolina State University.
Kristen needed an escape and she found that in the pole community. Pole fitness and dance offered a space for Kristen to reconnect with her full self again. Additionally, her doctoral training in community psychology allowed her to see that pole is a tool for coping with adversity and creating self.
Kristen integrates her expertise in psychology with her training as an ACE and XPERT certified pole fitness instructor to guide her clients and students along a journey of self-exploration and liberation through pole fitness and dance. Kristen has coined her work Polecology®.
Dr. Kristen and I had such an amazing conversation starting with her high school memories of being on the biotech track in high school thinking she would go the physical science route. After taking AP Psychology, she realized even at that young age that her calling was in working with people. She went away, not too far not too close to home, and during most of her time in undergrad, she did not see herself pursuing higher education. It was during this time that she first took a pole dancing class when her roommate offered to take her with a Groupon… She ready… She did not find love in pole at the moment. She had hopes of going to the Peace Corps but was denied due to a peanut allergy. It was then that she decided to pursue a master’s degree. She had a black woman academic that brought to her attention the option of pursuing a PhD and that is when she went for it.
During her first year, she experienced a lot of emotional distress and truly wanted to drop out. It was through her husband’s support that she found solace and endurance. She had started doing pole dancing for fitness purposes, but she experienced whorephobia and felt uncomfortable with the idea of people thinking she was sexy in the exercise. She got pregnant and after giving birth she suffered from post-partum conditions. She had the great resource of having an advisor who had recently had a child. She suffered from post-partum depression. She also had a condition called diastasis recti that caused the two sides of her abdomen to split away from each other. After months of physical therapy, she was able to get back to pole dancing but in a different manner. This time she was liberated. She had discovered the beauty in this artform and coined the term Polecology. She now teaches her student in the School of Polecology how to use the pole to make meaning.
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