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Written by Colleen Jolly

Ever wanted to attend a pole star workshop? Ever thought of hosting one at your studio? In this blog we’ll talk about both sides of that equation—being a student and being a host—to understand what are the biggest benefits derived from workshops and what are some things to be aware of before you attend or book your first workshop.

Things to consider when hosting workshops as the studio owner or manager:
  • Have a Contract. Always have a contract that specifically quantifies all details of your relationship so there are absolutely no questions about who is responsible for what. Here are a few main topics that should be clearly laid out in the contract and accepted by all parties.
    • Equipment Requirements. Always double check the pole stars’ requirements for the workshops they are teaching against your equipment. Are they going to teach a combo that requires 15 ft poles? Can they only work on spin mode? On a 38mm? Do you need crash mats? Make sure they know what to expect and can plan accordingly
    • Insurance. Are they covered under your insurance? Or do they have their own? Many traveling pole stars do maintain their own instructor insurance but not all. Double check with your insurance company to see if they need to add your studio as an “additional insured” on their Certificate of Insurance.

      Class with Colleen Jolly

      Travel Costs. Are you paying for flight and hotel? Or are you hosting in your home? Be clear about what you are providing and what you’re not—particularly if you are hosting. If all you’ve got is an inflatable bed in the kitchen, let them know and understand how that might not be ok.    

    • Exclusivity. It is convenient to do a tour in a geographic region and visit several studios. If you want your pole star to be exclusive to only your studio, you may have to pay for that right. There may be separate charges if you’d like the to perform as well.
    • Studio Fee. There may be a hard limit or a recommended limit for the “studio fee” on top of any workshop, private or performance done by your visiting star. Charging more per head then the limit may make you a few extra bucks, however it is unlikely the star will visit you again.
    • Compensation. Particularly for international stars, a check after the workshop is complete might not be the best option. Understand if you’re paying via PayPal, a cashiers check, or some other method; confirm the currency; and confirm the timing of payment (half before/half after, all up front, all after, etc.)
  • Understand your Minimums. Most pole stars have a minimum requirement for number of students for the workshop to run. If you do not meet the minimums you may be liable to pay for the difference or the workshop may be canceled last minute. Some may offer interesting incentives to sell beyond the minimums including a free spot for you or one of your instructors.
  • Marketing Opportunities. Having a pole star visit you provides an opportunity to market your studio and potentially attract new students who otherwise might not visit your studio. Stars will often promote their workshops through social media channels as well (double check contractual stipulations on this, what is a “nice to do” could become a “required” or even a “paid promotion” expense) as well as post-workshop photos highlighting your studio and students.
  • Provide Training to Students and Instructors. Even the best studios can get a little stuck sometimes—having a pole star visit can give your instructors and your students new material and reinvigorate their passion for pole or help them prepare for an important competition.
  • Network with Industry. Particularly if your studio is in a location that is far from other studios or industry contacts, welcoming a pole star may be a great opportunity to catch up on industry news and make a networking connection that could benefit both of you in the future. This is a small industry but getting bigger by the minute!
Things to consider when attending workshops as a student:
  • Appropriate Level. All workshop descriptions should have some indication of level from beginner through to advanced, however, one person’s “intermediate” is another’s “super death level amazeballs.” Talk to your instructors and your studio manager or owner to understand what material might be covered and if it’s appropriate for you. It is good to challenge yourself but if everyone is doing aerial deadlift handsprings and you can’t regularly invert yet, then the workshop is a waste of your time and money.
  • Do your Research. Not sure you like someone’s style? Research them on the Internet! All pole stars maintain some level of social media including (but not limited to) Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Check them out and you might find their signature move is something you’re dying to try. Some offer “wish list” workshops or leave time at the end of their signature trix classes for requests. Make a list of all the things you’d love to learn and you might just get your wish!
    Workshop with Jamilla Deville
  • Consider Costs. Workshops aren’t cheap and everyone is working with real life budgets. If you can, ask your studio what stars they expect to host over the coming months or year (some may schedule far in advance; others may just have workshops pop up) and decide who you really, really want to learn from then book that workshop as soon as possible—it may sell out.
  • Be Prepared for the Time Investment. Workshops tend to be longer (75 min, 90 min or 120 min) than most regular pole classes. Understand how long the workshop will be and if necessary, prepare by taking several regular classes in a row to build up your stamina.
  • New Material! One of the biggest benefits of taking a workshop is getting new material or addressing existing material in a new way. Sometimes you just need the right teacher to take your ok move and make it fantastic or help you create an amazing combo from things you already know. In any case, you might be the only one at your studio showcase to do that awesome new move perfectly.
  • Be a Fangirl (or guy). If you’re already obsessively following your favorite pole stars on social media and being inspired by them daily, getting to meet them in person is a huge treat. Don’t forget to get your photo taken with them! Some may also bring their branded merchandise or DVDs to purchase in person and you save on shipping costs.
  • Bring a Notebook. You will not remember everything the pole star said, did or demonstrated and if you were the only person from your regular pole crew that took a workshop, no one else will help you remember either. Invest in a good pole notebook and take time to scribble notes or making little drawings during the workshop. You’ll be glad you did. Most pole stars will not allow you to video tape them in a workshop so notebooks are essential.

Hopefully these “Workshop 101” tips will help you decide if attending or hosting workshops is the right option for you. As you and your studio grow and change, revisit this list and see if now is a good time to welcome a pole star or other visiting expert to provide great new content and ideas to reinvigorate your passion.

Colleen Jolly

Colleen Jolly is an AFAA-certified personal trainer, entrepreneur and pole dance enthusiast. She has been poling for three years, is the new CEO of the International Pole Convention and also owns and manages Pole Pressure Capitol Hill. She runs several businesses, is active in leadership roles and Board positions in arts and association non-profit organizations; and is also an award-winning artist, writer, and speaker on visual communications and general business topics all around the world. Check out her blog here:

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