By LOIS KINDLE
There are lots of places offering ways for men and women to build strength and get fit these days, but let’s face it, few offer a unique variety of options that are both highly effective and fun.
The Gibsonton-based business is owned and operated by Jeannie Armstong, a Tampa Bay native with more than 25 years in the field of health and fitness. The former personal trainer took her first pole class when she was 46. That was in 2015; she’s been hooked ever since.
Armstrong has since performed all over the country, including three times at the International Pole Convention.
She opened Aries Pole Fitness in September 2021 and teaches out of a studio in her home at 9903 Alafia Vista Drive, Gibsonton. She is certified to teach classes from beginner levels to advanced-plus. No matter how old you are or what shape you’re in, the instructors embrace working with you.
“At Aries Pole Fitness, we are passionate about empowering people through pole dance and fitness,” Armstrong said. “Our certified and experienced instructors provide a positive and safe environment for people of all ages, shapes and sizes to explore their inner strength and creativity.
“Our studio is dedicated to promoting body positivity, self-confidence and inclusivity,” she continued. “We believe in fostering a supportive community where our students can challenge themselves, learn new skills and have fun while doing it. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your pole journey, we are here to guide and support you every step of the way.”
Here’s what’s offered at her studio: Connected Stretching, a program for greater flexibility; Aerial Yoga; Lyra Circus Hoop; Pole Dance; and Pole Sport, which has been accepted as an Olympic sport and will soon be added to Olympic competition, Armstrong said. Strength and conditioning classes are also available.
Sessions for classes or private training are by appointment only. Business hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. A one-time introduction to any class is $25, and first-time students can get an unlimited week of classes for $75. Otherwise, classes are normally $32 each, and there are membership options offering discounts.
The staff includes Armstrong and three other award-winning instructors.
Participants rave about the place.
Gibsonton resident Jovi Ferman, 48, has taken a variety of classes for the past year and a half, including strengthening and conditioning, aerial yoga and pole dance.
“The atmosphere and instructors are so amazing,” she said. “Everyone is so welcoming and warm. I’ve made so many friendships, and the classes have helped me stay fit and build greater self-confidence.”
Carol Keith, of Apollo Beach, agrees.
At 62, she’s taken classes in aerial yoga, connective stretching, lyra hoop, pole fitness and pole dance.
“I met Jeanne four and a half years ago at Impulse in Brandon, started pole and followed her when she opened her own studio,” Keith said. “She’s such a motivator. I never thought I could do all of this, and now I’m in the best shape of my life.”
This past summer, Keith won a gold medal in pole dancing in her first competition.
“With the right instructor, anyone can do this,” she added. “The caliber of the instructors is amazing, and they offer classes for women of all skill levels. It’s like a family. I highly recommend it.”
Then there’s Meg Smith, 27, a Ruskin resident who used to take gymnastic classes and signed up for classes at Aries Pole Fitness three months ago.
“I was looking for something new,” she said.
Smith has already tried lyra, pole fitness, pole dance and aerial yoga.
“It’s harder than it looks, but it’s so much fun,” she said. “When they say they’re inclusive, they mean it. They want people to succeed.
“I go at least two times a week, and I can’t say enough about it,” she added. “They make you feel so comfortable.”
That’s the exact atmosphere Armstrong wants.
“The ladies who come here are so supportive of each other,” she said. “Sometimes we end our sessions with hugs all around.”
To make an appointment or for more information, call 813-382-1586 or visit www.ariespolefitness.com/.