Wendy's Whirled


Photograph by Don Curry

Wendy Traskos is not only one of the strongest and sexiest dancers I’ve met, she is also an entrepreneur whose ventures include New York Pole Dancing Studio, Climb and Spin, and United States Pole Dancing Federation.  Amazingly, Wendy did not qualify for the cheerleading team when she was in high school, despite already being a competitive gymnast and having sister Tracy in the team.  But perhaps this early challenge contributed to Wendy’s tendency to push the limits.  Maybe growing up with a father in the military helped too. Rules couldn't be broken, so she sought areas of life where the rules hadn't been defined yet.

From floor: Wendy Traskos, Tracy Traskos and NYPD instructor, Brynlyn Loomis

Sister, Tracy, went to college for Community Health Education, and became a respected bodybuilder and fitness educator. Wendy followed her own path, and—in her final year of high school—her parents told her if she didn’t go to college, she would have to start paying rent.

Photograph by Don Curry

“I left at 18 and never looked back,” said Wendy. “After that, I just figured I could do what I wanted because I did everything all on my own: my own decisions and my own failures and everything.“

“I needed a job when I came to NY.  So eventually I started stripping. My parents would be so proud,” Wendy laughed.

“I never felt uncomfortable about showing my body,” she said. “And I knew that no one could touch me so I was fine with that. I drew a clear line and never stepped over it."

Wendy saved enough money to start her business in 2005, and to employ some of the finest pole dancers in New York including sister, Tracy.  Although running NYPD hasn’t proved as lucrative as stripping, Wendy does it because of her passion for pole, and also because it empowers women, and creates a sense of community.  Pole dancing is a bonding experience for many women, as they push their limits of endurance and strength together.

Photograph by Don Curry

Wendy refined the moves in the Climb and Spin method so they are safe for beginners and for progression to advanced moves. Unlike other studios, New York Pole Dancing requires testing before students perform invert (upside down) moves.

“I am trying to protect the students’ safety,” says Wendy. “Some people see a rivalry between New York Pole Dancing and other studios, but I feel there’s room for everybody.”

Wendy performing at Schtick A Pole In It

New York Pole Dancing offers drop in classes for students of all levels.  Wendy frequently performs at events like the Northwest Championship, Schtick a Pole In It, and the Pulse Project’s Sirens 2.  Currently, Wendy is focusing more on the studio and on Climb and Spin, which she hopes will become a standard method.  Whatever branch of her business she chooses to focus on, Wendy Traskos is clearly a Pole Dancing Pioneer.

Post Pole Picks

Anna Grundstrom in Skinja

This morning, I saw the movie trailer for Skinja, a movie about a stripper turned ninja.  It stars NYPD instructor, Anna Grundstrom, who recently performed with the Pulse Project at the US Pole Dance Championship.  Three other NYPD instructors feature in the film: Gabrielle Valliere, Caitlin Goddard and Laura Ganzero.  Gabrielle and Caitlin also competed in the championship along with Brynlyn Loomis, another NYPD teacher.  Their performances in the competition were stunning and I’m looking forward to seeing them immortalized in this film.

Gabrielle Valliere, runner up 2011 Pole Dancing Championship

I've found the instruction at NYPD to be exemplary. Lessons are challenging but still enjoyable, due to the skill of the instructors.  Most of the morning students are business professionals or college students taking pole classes for fitness, fun and the satisfaction of learning a new skill. Many of the evening students are experts seeking to refine their art.

Even though the heroine of Skinja is a stripper by night, and a ninja by later that night, the story still has elements of female empowerment. It also looks pretty funny.  Soon I hope that pole fitness will be accepted as the skilled sport that it is.