Welcome to our new feature: Studio Spotlight! We’re on the hunt for studio owners to tell us about what makes them get out of bed in the morning. Studios have been springing up all over the world and we want to know what’s inspired the owners to start their business and how it’s changed their lives.
We’re opening with Gwen Burns - owner of The Watermelon Studio in Edinburgh, kickass pole dancer and all round legend.
What inspired you to join the pole industry?
The film Rock of Ages! I had just left the cinema and was already texting my friend to come and join me at a lesson. I had one lesson and was hooked, then after 3 lessons I had bought my own pole. The rest is history!
When did you decide that it was an industry you wanted to work in?
It all happened so fast that I didn't really have time to think about it! I had been asked to teach for a studio not long after attending as a student. I began teaching and loved it! I then had the opportunity to open my own studio, while pursuing this I trained hard and got qualified. Before I knew it The Watermelon Studio had opened and I was in the Pole Industry. Needless to say I love it and haven't looked back since.
Besides meeting Team Pole Junkie, how has running watermelon changed your life?
My life has definitely changed for the better since meeting the Pole Junkie team! As well as that, Watermelon has made me a lot more confident in myself and I feel very proud with what I have accomplished. I never thought I could help create a home away from home for so many people, that in itself is very rewarding. I've met people from all walks of life and I'm genuinely happy and proud to see these amazing students achieve their goals (in life and at pole). I feel that running Watermelon has made me a better person as well as a strong business woman. I have also made several new friendships which I know will stay with me for life.
Gwen visiting Pole Junkie HQ
What’s been your favourite moment in the studio?
My favourite moment had to be when we were hosting an in-house competition and Kristy Sellars was performing her 'Toxic' routine. The competition itself was amazing to see, regular students, instructors and students from other studios performing together at the studio, and then Kristy performed. This was the first routine I had ever seen online by a pole artist and instantly became a fan. To see this live in my own studio was a very surreal moment!
What’s the most challenging aspect of owning a studio?
The most challenging part I would say is to enjoy pole for myself. I lost my love for it slightly by constantly worrying about the syllabus and training certain moves to then be able to teach them etc. It became a lot more like work rather than the hobby I fell in love with. Over time I relaxed with the work side of it, a large part of that came from hiring new instructors as well as taking time to pole for myself. The people I train with have also kept me motivated and are so encouraging and I thank them so much for that!
What was your journey to becoming a teacher?
I was approached to become a teacher without much experience. I decided if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. This lead me to do my research to become qualified through PDC (Pole Dance Community). This helped me become truly focused and know exactly what weaknesses needed strengthening. When I was fully qualified and insured, I opened the doors to The Watermelon Studio.
What do you think is the biggest benefit for your students?
I believe the biggest benefit for my students is that they have a very clear structure. At Watermelon, each level gets you ready for the next one, safely working on each move and building strength as you go. I am often surprised at how quickly the students get moves which took me months to get, and I've realised this is due to their gradual strength building throughout the levels.
What’s your studio ‘style’?
I would say our studio is more 'dance' style than 'fitness' style yet we always incorporate both. The dance style shows more in our warm ups and workshops; I believe a lot of this comes down to Kristy Sellars inspiring us from when she first came to visit, the first week we opened. I have also done some dancing over the years and enjoy incorporating that into the studio when I can. I also find dancing a great way to be more creative and show your own personality.
What advice would you give to future students who might be shy about starting classes?
I would encourage first timers to bring a friend if they are unsure. I believe one lesson is enough to know if you will love it or not, and the first step is just getting through the door. If you do not have a friend willing to join you, you will be fine! I do not know one studio that has not been welcoming. The pole community is like no other and the minute you walk through the door of any studio you will be welcomed with open arms to the pole family.
There's nothing like a pole family!
If you're interested in trying out Gwen's classes check out her website www.thewatermelonstudio.co.uk
Would you like your studio to be featured? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org