Vertical Gym owner Robynne Sharko-Stapley demonstrates the art of pole fitness in this photo taken on the beach in Willow Point near Hilchey Road.

Campbell River to host B.C. pole dance championships Saturday

The sport is rooted in the traditions of African and Chinese pole dancing and ribbon dancing

The first ever B.C. Pole Fitness Championships, here Saturday, has attracted 24 participants from across the province and judges from as far away as Colorado and Australia.

Robynne Sharko-Stapley, owner of The Vertical Gym on 12th Avenue and the organizer of the event, says two of her students will also be competing.  “This is the first year Canada has held regional competitions and we are very excited to be the designated British Columbia location,” Sharko-Stapley says.

Contestants, 18 to 40-plus, will compete at the Campbell River Community Centre starting at 6 p.m. with the winner advancing to the Canadian championships in Vancouver Oct. 13. The winner of that competition will head to Switzerland in November for the World championship.

Sharko-Stapley says the sport is rooted in the traditions of African and Chinese pole dancing and ribbon dancing. Some professionals advance to take up dancing careers with Cirque du Soleil.  None of the pole gymnasts are headed for strip clubs, she insists. In fact, the competition rules specifically prohibit exotic high heels, the removal of any clothing and suggestive movements.

There will be an after party at the Paramount tomorrow evening with exclusive performances by the judges including the Canadian judge, Crystal Lai, a former Miss Pole Dance Canada.

Tickets are available at the door or at The Vertical Gym, 850 G 12th Ave., or online at www.theverticalgym.ca.