For many families, spending time together might involve a trip to the cinema, a game of Monopoly or a game of football in the park.
But for Jake Night and Lindsey Teall, family time involves an altogether more out-there activity: pole dancing.
The family from St Louis, Missouri, say they’re proud to share the love of the unusual sport with their children Aiden, 11, Alaura, five. Even three-year-old Rosalyn gets involved in the fun.
With a pole set up in their living room, the family are able to practice together every day and say learning the medium has not only helped boost the children’s fitness levels but also their creativity.
In fact it was pole dancing that first brought the couple together.
“Jake and I first started pole dancing separately, before we met,” Lindsey tells Yahoo Style UK. “We both have a performing arts background; mine is in dance and Jake’s is in theatre and as a gymnastics instructor.”
“Jake began pole dancing in his 20s. At that time, nearly two decades ago, finding a pole class in most places was next to impossible. The classes and studios just really didn’t even exist yet.”
Jake started working as a DJ and after a failed marriage Lindsey started pole dancing in a club for fitness and self-empowerment.
“It was honestly one of the best decisions of my life, because that’s where Jake and I met,” she says.
Having bonded over their love of the sport, the couple went on to have three children who, having watched their parents training and teaching classes, started showing an interest in the activity.
“As soon as they could crawl, they would pull themselves up onto the pole,” Lindsey explains.
Lindsey also believes that pole dancing could be in her daughters’ blood because she also continued dancing right throughout her last two pregnancies.
“I was dancing through my last two pregnancies with the girls. Until six months with Alaura, and up until 33+ weeks with Rosalyn,” she explains.
“The benefits of pole dancing pregnant are huge (if done in moderation, and with the consent of your doctor). I found it really helped prepare me for labour.
“Keeping fit during pregnancy is so important, along with rest and nutrition. Pole dancing is wonderful for cardio, even if you’re not inverting onto the pole. It’s no different from any other form of dance.”
Since catching the pole dancing bug the couple’s children now practice most days.
“Some days consist of more serious training, others are just freestyle dancing,” she says. “We also enjoy having dance parties to their favourite tunes. When they aren’t pole dancing, they take ballet, tap, hip hop and tumbling/gymnastics classes.”
While not a typical after school activity, Lindsey says there are many plus points to children pole dancing.
“Much like any form of dance or acrobatics, it improves their health and teaches discipline,” she explains. “It has also encouraged them to utilise their own personal creativity. They try to create their own tricks, choreography, and themes.”
Lindsey says pole dancing has also ignited passion in the children to pursue other art forms such as dance, music and singing, gymnastics, and theatre performance.
“They love having the freedom to express themselves through movement,” she explains. “They say that it feels like flying. Like other types of fitness, it releases endorphins and adrenaline. Who wouldn’t love that?”
So how do the couple respond to questions that pole dancing isn’t an appropriate activity for children?
“We try to keep them away from seeing anything uber exotic,” Lindsey explains. “At least until they’re older. We surround them with positivity, and literature for the styles they are pursuing.
“Jake and I have done exotic and more adult dancing when they weren’t involved. It’s really just about ‘time and place’. You wouldn’t let your young kids see an R-rated movie, but you’ll still take them to the movies for a child-friendly film.”
But while Lindsey and Jake do all they can to ensure their children’s hobby remains age-appropriate, that hasn’t stopped others criticising the couple online.
“It has been pretty brutal at times,” the couple explain. “In the beginning, about two years ago after our first viral video, we were appalled. Now we pretty much ignore the people trying to tear us down. The ones asking questions, we help to educate. The truly hateful individuals typically get blocked.”
“We try to respond to the negativity and hate with understanding and an attempt to educate others,” Lindsey says. “The stigma that pole dancing is only for clubs won’t change without further educating the public.”
In the meantime the family plan to continue enjoying pole dancing together and are doing their best to take the stigma out of what they describe as a ‘sport’.
“We would love to do more performances on stage as a family,” Lindsey says. “During our first family Pole performance at the International Pole Convention, we all had a blast. The kids came straight of stage and asked if they can do it again.
“Since then, we’ve been practicing more often, choreographing routines, and trying more intricate tricks together. As long as they are fit and happy, we’re happy.”
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