SFPD Student of the Month: Carlie Leduc
We got a chance to sit down with Carlie Leduc, co-founder of the non-profit Taking it to the Streets and San Francisco local. Carlie is a long time student of San Francisco Pole & Dance, and it’s predecessor, Studio Botan. She told us a little bit about her pole journey. We think you’ll love what she had to say as much as we do!
SFPD: Carlie, when did you begin pole?
Carlie: I began pole in 2012 after seeing YouTube videos of pros and faling in love with their grace and athleticism. My personal trainer (Natalie Carey, Barbell Blondie Athletics) was taking classes at Studio Botan and she introduced me to the pole community. I am a goal-oriented type of person so I’ve always performed in the studio showcases for motivation. Last year I started competing and that has made my training skyrocket. My moves get cleaner and I get stronger from each competition that I participate in.
Also I’m historically a stress eater and someone who is not motivated to diet to simply be thin. Since starting pole dance I have noticed the ways foods impact my sport. For instance, gluten and dairy make me feel heavier so I’ve eliminated both of those completely from my diet. I also notice the way sugar and alcohol affect my body and my sweat, so I avoid those while prepping for a competition.
SFPD: What scared and/or excited you about pole when you first began? If you faced any initial fears, how did you overcome them?
Carlie: During my first class I felt like total dead weight! Simple spins were really challenging and climbing was impossible! Also, everyone was wearing short shorts and many people worked out in only sports bras! As someone who grew up being self conscious of my stomach, I did NOT was to take my shirt off. I used open pole time to practice all the difficult moves I was learning. At first I was intimidated by all the “impossible” things everyone else was doing but the community was really friendly and helpful! Ever since day one, I’ve made conditioning a high priority and it has made me a stronger performer.
As far as my clothing phobia, I realized with pole that the lack of clothing is practical. Skin sticks to poles, fabric slides. I was able to keep my shirt until I started inverting, then I realized I needed that side grip to help me stick. I’ve learned to appreciate my body for what it can do, how it can push the limits of strength and flexibility, rather than what it looks like. There was this photo from PPC this year where in the past I would have been self conscious of my rolls, but I can’t get over what a beautiful moment it was! I love it!
SFPD: What’s your life like outside of the studio — i.e., work, family, hobbies?
I co-founded a non-profit that works with homeless youth in the Haight. Homeless youth volunteer to provide street cleaning and graffiti abatement. In exchange Taking it to the Streets (“T2S”) provides them with housing and mentorship to support them in their transition to living indoors, finding and maintaining full time jobs, and eventually living independently from program support. We have supported over 60 youth in moving indoors and living independently of our programs and we have another 40 program participants who are either cleaning the Haight Street corridor or working and preparing to live independently of our program.
Additionally I have an amazing husband who comes to all of my competitions. And I have an adorable dog, Leroux, who just happens to be SFPD’s mascot.
SFPD: How has your relationship to pole changed as you’ve progressed, and what motivates you to continue?
I love that this is a sport where you can always be working on the next impossible thing. Day 1 it’s climbing and fireman’s spin, then it’s inverts, there’s always a new challenge! Right now I’m working on being able to lift into handspring and find a cool transition into/out of flag.
With competing, last February was my first solo, and my first time choreographing a piece. With each competition I have new takeaways and new ways to push myself. The first one it was stamina and cleanliness of transitions. While I am always working on better lines, now my new challenge is being married to my music. How can I best express this song? How can I bring dance to every move I make on stage? It’s a fun challenge to take on!