Empowering women: Local business normalizing the stigma around pole dancing


Quinten Sargent

Girlfriends Fitness

Kira Bortz

After Jennifer Lopez’s pole dancing performance at the Super Bowl LIV halftime show, a lot of people have been talking, and it hasn’t all been positive. Many parents are concerned about their children being exposed to things of that nature and are shaming her for choosing to pole dance during a nationally aired family sports event. 

One Joplin local is here to change the conversation around Lopez’s performance choice, and pole performance/fitness as a whole. Shannon Strahan is the owner of Girlfriends Fitness in Joplin and teaches the beginner pole fitness class offered there. 

She agreed that the performance has been a hot topic and she was “surprised at the outrage and shock of her performance and pole work.” 

“People associate it with stripping and what she [Lopez] is doing is not stripping. How she trained for her movie was a tough workout. She approached it as an athletic endeavor, which it is,” said Strahan. 

The pole fitness classes offered through Girlfriends Fitness are, in Strahan’s words “sporty in nature and are an athletic endeavor.” 

“Nothing sexy happens in the pole room. We are working our butts off. It is really hard work,” said Strahan.

In addition to the beginner pole fitness class, Girlfriends Fitness, also offers two more pole fitness classes that are more choreography based.

“People automatically think strip club. It’s more than that. It requires strength and builds upper body strength,” said Strahan.

Strahan said she sees women of all ages taking the pole fitness classes.

“It’s been proposed that pole fitness be added to the Olympics,” Strahan added, which goes to show the stamina and strength pole fitness takes.

Strahan believes the lack of awareness around pole dancing causes the public to make general assumptions about it.

“In the past I have been worried about stepping on people’s toes, but my clients are great ladies from all walks of life and we don’t need anyone in here trying to tear us down,” said Strahan.

Strahan loves her job, because she gets to empower women from various ages and backgrounds.

“One of the best things for me doing this making a living teaching pole and owning this studio is when I get a client call or email me who believe they are too old or unfit. I tell them anyone can do this,” said Strahan. 

Strahan sees the confidence and progress of these women build up over time, and that makes it worthwhile.

Strahan is gladly here to stay and wants to continue to make a difference in the lives of women, from building their confidence up, to being with them through their fitness journey and working to end the stigma around pole fitness.