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Krystel Arbia: I Wanted My Body Back
Pole Fitness

Above: Milan Pole Dance studio teachers Shila Graeson (left) and Prana Ovide-Étienne (right). Note that both teachers train only on the pole to achieve the bodies you see in front of you.

Photo © Evelyn Reid
In 2008 with three young children in tow, Montreal native Krystel Arbia wanted her pre-pregnancy body back. But not even she could have predicted that a Hollywood star interviewed on an entertainment news show was about to not only set her on the path of regaining her toned, slender figure but also to spin her career into a completely different direction. And by the way, if you saw her in person, you would never believe she was a mother, let alone of three.

I took a moment to chat with Krystel to find out what happened.

Evelyn: So one day you're a mother working for Dolce & Gabbana. The next, you're the founder of Milan Pole Dance Studio?

Krystel: I used to be a lawyer and I had three kids. And at some point, I was desperate to get my body back. And at the time I was living in China. So one day, I was watching watching Access Hollywood and Kate Hudson was interviewed saying that what got her in shape was pole dancing. Not liposuction, not any kind of surgery. Pole dancing. So I'm sitting here, believing this, right? So I'm in Beijing looking for a pole dancing class.

Evelyn: And what year is this?

Krystel: It was in 2008. And I found one! So I get to the class, and it's all young Chinese girls and I'm thinking, okay, whatever, nobody knows me, the class is in Chinese, I'll just manage, right?

Evelyn: So what happened?

Krystel: The moment I touched the pole? It changed my life. I started poling 2-3 times a week and it took me two months to get my body back.

Evelyn: Two months? That's it?

Krystel: And I had over 10 pounds to lose after my third pregnancy. After the third pregnancy, getting your body back is not easy. I can testify to that. I had to [get my body back] three times and pole dancing was my favorite. What's cool about it is it's fun. You get time for yourself, time to let yourself go, to feel sexy, but also get a really good workout.

Evelyn: Now I'm someone who trained in dance, and it can be stressful to take classes. There's this pressure to get everything right. What about with pole dancing? Nobody is grilling you if you screw up? Or what about cattiness?

Krystel: Nobody is looking at you because you're too busy looking at yourself! Nobody is going to look at you and say “oh, she's got long legs” or whatever. It doesn't happen. You're too busy! Pole dancing is really about you and the mirror, it's about you challenging yourself.

Evelyn: [Laughter]. Did you try other workouts to lose the post-pregnancy weight?

Krystel: I used to do Muay Thai. It's Thai boxing and it's a pretty hard workout. But I have to say, the most efficient workout for me has been pole dancing. You lift your whole weight, on a pole, spinning. So you're fighting gravity for an hour. That's makes the intensity of the workout different instead of just kicking. Of course, it's personal, everyone's different. But what I was looking for was a fun workout. When you have three kids, you don't have much time for yourself so that time that you do have, you want to have fun, you want to train and you also want to make friends at the same time. This is possible with pole dance! At Milan Pole Dance Studio back in Milan, we created a really big community of girls of different ages, different generations, students from ages 20 to 60.

Evelyn: 60???

Krystel: Oh yeah. We have some women who are just amazing. We have 20-year-olds looking at these women spin and they're over 50! And they're just rocking it! And they're beautiful! This is what pole dancing is about. It's really about expressing yourself in a feminine way. You're powerful when you're feminine. It's a gift that nature gave us. You have the choice to use it or not.

Evelyn: So here you are in Beijing, and you just decided to can your law career and open a pole dancing studio in Italy?

Krystel: Pretty much. After my stay in China, I moved back to Milan, quit my law job and said, “alright. I'm opening a pole studio.”

Evelyn: Are you originally from Milan?

Krystel: No. I'm from Montreal but I moved to Italy ten years ago. But to get back to what I was saying about the women who come to my studio, this is the whole reason behind this business. It's really about making women feel good about their bodies. Love your body! We're not going to tell you you'll become a supermodel, no. We'll tell you “come and train on a regular basis and you'll become the best of yourself." And you know sometimes when you see a sexy girl and you think “oh my gosh, she's so sexy, how did she learn that? It's like she was born that way.” Well, either you're born with it or you come here and we'll teach you. We'll take care of it!

Evelyn: Sexiness aside, a lot of women want to see results too. What can students expect if they attend your classes?

Krystel: What we're trying to do is offer fun and effective workouts for everyone. It's a total body workout. The first results you're going to see are on your abs and your upper body. And in the long run, it really elongates your whole body.

Since opening Milan Pole Dance Studio in March 2010, Krystel decided to expand operations with a new studio in Montreal under the same name. Debuting in September 2012, I had a chance to test a class. Find out what my pole dance experience was like.

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