Interview and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – When Shannon first balanced onto the pole, she had no idea it would change her life forever. Now, as a pole fitness instructor, she’s empowering others to embrace their strength, confidence, and sensuality through this unique and challenging art form.
Meet Shannon Champagne, the owner and lead instructor of A Lil’Pole Fitness in Cornwall, Ontario. Shannon is a certified Master trainer for Canada, who has been in the fitness industry since 2007 and has competed in dancing from 1999 to 2009. With certifications in Pole Fitness, Aerial Fitness, Lap Dancing, Gymnastics, Zumba, Nutrition, and more, she is known to be fierce despite her small stature.
Shannon is not only a fitness enthusiast, but she also comes from a law enforcement and social sciences background. Her passion for fitness stems from her love for seeing people lifting each other up, and she creates a safe and encouraging atmosphere for her clients to learn Aerial Arts. As a proud mother of two boys, ages 8 and 5, Shannon loves life and knows how to have fun while staying fit.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – How did you first get into pole fitness, and what inspired you to become an instructor?
“I got into Pole when attending classes in Ottawa over 15 years ago. I loved the combination of dance and strength. What inspired me to become an instructor is that I noticed there were no classes in Cornwall for Aerial Arts. Since many people knew me from Dance Competitions, personal training, and teaching Zumba, I figured I would give it a shot!”
2 – Can you walk us through a typical class or session and what skills and techniques are taught?
“A typical class at A Lil’Pole Fitness is big smiles and encouragement from the coaches, then 20 mins of Strength Training and Conditioning, then the rest of the time is learning new skills on the poles, hoops or silks.”
3 – How do you approach working with students of different fitness levels and body types?
“Everyone is different, and that is valued at A Lil’Pole Fitness. We have complete beginners to advanced students in every single class. Everyone is encouraging and welcoming. Something we noticed is that levels don’t necessarily work. We prefer each member to see what they can do in the future, it builds excitement and self-esteem, and we work on progressions to get there.”
4 – Can you speak to the challenges you’ve faced as a pole fitness instructor and how you’ve overcome them?
“As a pole fitness instructor, I have faced many challenges. I have experienced vandalism at my studio 12 times, with the culprit still not caught. I have also had to deal with theft. Additionally, I have had to overcome the stigma associated with pole fitness. However, despite all these challenges, I would say that the most difficult and rewarding part of my job is helping members build up their self-esteem. Many of them come to me with broken self-esteem due to personal struggles, but it’s beautiful to watch them regain it through pole fitness.”
5 – What advice would you give someone interested in starting pole fitness?
“You just need to do it. The biggest thing holding you back is not weight or strength. We have members of all shapes, sizes, and ages. It’s your own fear. Once you walk through our doors and see all our amazing members and coaches, you will love it!”
A Lil’ Pole Fitness is located at 1424 Aubin Ave in Cornwall. Visit their Facebook page for more information.