Eva Spicola is determined to remove the stigma that is attached to pole dancing.
When the former surgical assistant and personal trainer opened in January, she decided to forgo the typical workouts associated with pole dancing by adding a variety of exercise activities, from cycling to boot camps to kickboxing.
And she is quick to point out that her new club teaches “pole fitness, not pole dancing.”
But no matter how many styles of workouts she offers, she knows there’s no getting around the fact that most of the classes at Wildside are centered on one thing — a pole.
“There’s a bad stigma attached to pole dancing, due to its association with strip clubs,” Spicola acknowledges. “But the truth is, it’s the best upper-body fitness and core training you could ever have.”
Spicola, a nine-year resident of the area, took a pole class on a whim a few years ago while she and her husband were vacationing out west.
To her surprise, she was immediately hooked by the workout and the adrenaline rush she got from lifting her own body weight.
“People think it’s easy to do this, but seven out of nine women can’t do it again after trying it once,” she says. “I’ve owned health clubs and been a fitness trainer for many years, and I can tell you this is the toughest workout I’ve ever had.”
Since she opened the club, located in the Fountains Shopping Plaza, Spicola has seen her membership increase every month; she has an active membership of roughly 100 clients, many of whom participate in a variety of classes.
Members pay $90 per month for unlimited classes, which include pole fitness, sexy pole fitness, cycling, chair dancing and “booty” boot camps. The first class is free, to see if you like it, and there are special packages available for gifts and holidays.
With so much cardio and core work involved, Spicola assures members will get every bit as thorough a workout as at a gym or traditional boot camp. And she insists that unlike more traditional gym settings, there is no pressure to look great or have a certain body type to fit in at Wildside.
One of her more loyal members agrees.
“I was a little nervous at first,” admits 28-year-old Cortney Elder of Holiday. “But after I tried it, I liked how comfortable Eva makes everybody feel, and the camaraderie between all the girls here.”
A veteran of numerous “corporate health clubs,” Elder says they are no match for what she gets at Wildside. She has been attending the club since February, and she now takes four or five classes per week.
“I get a lot more out of this. I like having someone to motivate me, and here we have Eva, the other trainers and the girls for support. You don’t get that at other clubs,” she says.
While these clubs are already popular in other parts of the company, there are only a few in the Tampa Bay area. But Spicola thinks pole fitness is the wave of the future in the workout industry.
“My dad likes to say in the old days, girls used to work on bars that went sideways. Now they work out on bars that go up and down,” she says.
Address: 34884 U.S. 19 N. (Fountains Plaza)
Hours: Call for class times