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Shila Graesan: The Gym Was Boring
Shila Graeson said she started pole dancing because she was bored with going to the gym.
Photo © Evelyn Reid
When I met Milan resident Shila Graeson, the first thing that struck me was her height. Easily 5'10” with no shoes, she immediately quashed my impression that the only successful pole dancers are short and compact, given that mastering the pole requires significant upper body strength, something tall gals like myself know all too well is difficult to manage when your limbs are so long. And heavy, comparatively-speaking. Yet when Shila took to the pole, she was a vision of grace, poise and elegance.

I sat down with her to find out how she achieved such a gorgeously toned, streamlined body.

Evelyn: I told a gentleman friend of mine that I was coming here today to try out my first pole dancing class and his reaction was “ohhhh, isn't that for women who want to please their husbands?”

Shila: No no. It's not like that. You have two things [going on]. One: you feel sexy so you feel more sure of yourself. For me, this was really important this part. And the second part is you really work with your body. This is for real. If you would have seen my arms before, they were half what they are now.

Evelyn: In terms of the diameter?

Shila: Yeah.

Evelyn: And were you already going to the gym before you started pole dancing? Were you into fitness before?

Shila: Not really. I did the gym for one year but it was too boring.

Evelyn: And you found pole fitness more challenging than the gym?

Shila: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because every time you see a new move, you want to try it. But you can't at first! It's really hard. You're thinking “everybody's doing it but I'm not. Why?” So you try harder. And by the third time you come to class and try the move, you can do it! You're like “oh my God, it's me and my body! And I'm not sure how I did it. Yesterday I was not able and now I can do it.” It's not challenging like that at the gym lifting weights.

Evelyn: But how much time did it take to see results? To see changes in your body?

Shila: I dunno. Even at one month...

Evelyn: You saw results within a month???

Shila: Yeah, because you see, you start to see muscles you didn't have before. Because on the pole you use muscles you usually don't use. At the gym, you're not using so many muscles altogether at the same time.

Evelyn: Shila, do you think that you saw more results one month on that pole than one year in the gym?

Shila: Yes! Maybe I had a bad instructor at the gym? [Laughter]. I think that when you are enjoying something, you have a stronger will to do it, so you try and try and try. But when you're at the gym, you're doing always the same movements.

Evelyn: so at the gym, you were basically doing weights and cardio?

Shila: Yes.

Evelyn: Do you remember how much cardio?

Shila: I was doing like 30 minutes, not more, because I was skinny already so I didn't need more cardio. And I did weights two times a week.

Evelyn: And now, with the pole dancing, how often?

Shila: Depends on the period. Some periods I'm there every day at the studio and other periods, I'm there two days a week at the studio. It depends.

Evelyn: well, the first month when you started pole dancing and noticed “wow, what happened to my arms,” how often were you going?

Shila: three days a week.

After a little over 18 months of regular pole training, Shila adopted the discipline not only as her passion but as a job, becoming a pole dancing instructor for Milan Pole Dance Studio back in Milan. She went on to confirm that one could very well pull off advanced tricks and movement combinations with a year and a half of regular practice.

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