Article and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – Shannon Champagne is an athlete who has drive, discipline, self-confidence, focus, strength, and balance. She turned her pole fitness passion into a successful business, becoming the founder, owner, and primary instructor at A Lil’Pole Fitness.
Shannon Champagne’s A Lil’Pole Fitness started with a dream nearly ten years ago. She started her business from scratch with the encouragement, direction, and help of a dear friend, Monique Rozon, who guided her in the right direction. Since her humble beginning,
“We grew in the size of our team, but we have also changed in the fact that we are different than any other Aerial Studio. We are a family to our members. We are a safe place,” Champagne stated.
A Lil’Pole Fitness classes have been successful from the start. Classes full of smiling, encouraging, and supportive people of all different ages and sizes who all want to feel good about themselves and their bodies.
“We are a place where someone gets to feel beautiful again in their own skin. A Lil’Pole Fitness members know that when they walk into the studio, they are welcomed, accepted, and cherished,” Champagne added.
Shannon’s business, team, and cliental have grown significantly. Since 2013, A Lil’Pole Fitness grew from one coach to now a team of seven! Their talented team includes Shannon Champagne, Lindsay Diehl, Melanie Miller Robinson, Jessica Samson, Gabrielle Martel, Sabrina Peacock, and Amber Legacy.
Shannon describes herself on social media as a “badass mom of two amazing boys and a Certified Master Trainer for Pole in Canada.” Her certifications include Pole, Aerial Silks and Hoops, Lap Dance, Master Trainer for Pole and Lap Dance in Canada, Gymnastics, Nutrition and Movement. However, for Shannon, her certifications are not her most significant accomplishment; instead, it’s her clients’ progress.
“My biggest accomplishment regarding A Lil’Pole Fitness and being a fitness instructor is not all the certifications, it’s not the competitions, it wasn’t becoming a Master Trainer for Canada, it’s honestly seeing our Members Personal Growth. I’ve seen the shyest people, having no self-esteem, no strength, no hope – change and grow, strengthen, and achieve, to feel beautiful. That, to me, is the best accomplishment,” Champagne replied.
Running a small business during the pandemic has had its financial challenges. Shannon shares that the business took a financial hit, where ownership even paid out of pocket to keep the business going during lockdowns. Notwithstanding this, the team at A Lil’Pole Fitness kept their morale up as they continued to make mental and physical health a priority for its members. “We are so thankful to all our members and the community for all their support,” Champagne said.
However, A Lil’Pole Fitness also had to overcome even more adversity because of senseless vandalism and repeated broken windows at their downtown Cornwall location.
“Unfortunately, the vandalism had hurt us financially, to even having members and instructors scared. Thankfully the community stepped in, and we had people on the lookout; the Cornwall Police Force was extremely sympathetic and understanding. The downtown Stores all had our backs. I have an amazing and supportive partner who would even walk members to their cars. Everyone just seemed to have stepped up and come together as a community, making us feel safe during that unfortunate and scary time. For that, I am forever thankful,” Champagne recalled.
In the past, people associated pole fitness with the type of pole dancing found at erotic nightclubs. Pole fitness instructors, pole athletes, and pole gyms have dramatically changed that perception. Pole fitness has overcome stigma to earn respect and recognition as a legitimate sport promoting strength, flexibility, and creativity.
“A Lil’Pole Fitness will always be where Pole and Aerial started in Cornwall. When I started almost ten years ago, I absolutely had people question what it was and the stigma that went along with it. Luckily, people knew me as a local, growing up, and going to school in Cornwall and SD&G. People knew I was fun, honest, approachable, and trustworthy. I had the support of our community. After years of classes, workshops, fundraisers, and events, and A Lil’Pole Fitness has earned the reputation as a trustworthy and fun studio that educated the community on what Pole Fitness, Aerial Hoops, and Aerial Silks was about,” Champagne explained.
From a feature in Cornwall Living Magazine to an OSPCA calendar fundraiser and more – A Lil’Pole Fitness has had an impact.
Lastly, Shannon Champagne shares her advice for anyone thinking about joining A Lil’Pole Fitness.
“My advice to people joining A Lil’Pole Fitness would be that you are in the best hands possible, and you have to try it. We will be there to encourage you, have fun with you, support you, and all you have to do is show up. We will help you with the rest,” Champagne concluded.
A Lil’Pole Fitness offers a variety of classes, including Pole Fitness, Aerial Hoop (Lyra), Aerial Silks, Dance Fitness, Curvy Pole Fitness, Belly Dancing, Booty Builder, Mighty Abs, Flexibility and Stretch, Strength Training, Youth Classes in Aerial Hoop, Personal Training, and Private Classes.
For more information on classes, instructors, hours of operation, and membership fees, visit A Lil’Pole Fitness website or call 613-577-1900.
A Lil’ Pole Fitness is located at 8 Second Street West in downtown Cornwall just above Fullerton Drug Store.