Paint the Stage: The Colors of Ashley Fox
If you’ve ever watched Ashley Fox (@foxyashleyfox) perform, you’re surely familiar with her jaw-dropping performances. Talk about coloring outside of the lines! Her eclectic, gravity-defying routines are theatrical, playful, powerful and innovative. Poletry in Motion got a chance to catch up with the pole champion and studio owner to get to know the woman behind all of the accolades. We discuss her first competition experience, her life outside of training, and how she’s ditched a fear-based mentality when executing even the most difficult of moves.
You just won a MAJOR competition! You are now Pole Sport Organization’s 2018 National Champion. How does it feel to be the number one competitive pole athlete in the nation?
Honestly, I just feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to compete on that national stage and to showcase my masterpiece. I feel like I’m on Cloud 9...like I have so much more I can accomplish now because I’m motivated from that accomplishment. It’s truly a blessing.
How long have you been poling?
I’ve been poling since 2008, but seriously and competing since 2012.
Tell us more about your pole journey. How did you get started?
I’m from Maryland originally and when I lived in Maryland, a friend invited me to a class. I had a background in gymnastics and cheerleading, but I was so surprised by how challenging it was compared to everything else I’d tried. That really intrigued me and kept me coming back. I started to take it a lot more seriously when I saw some performances on YouTube. Those really inspired me to try to take it to the next level and start competing.
Do you remember your first competition? What was that like?
Oh, my God. It was so nerve wrecking. I was in a room with @pinkpuma, @phoenixkazree, and all these other amazing polers I’d never heard of before. Everyone was looking so fierce. I remember when I performed and came back stage afterwards, no one said anything! I was like ‘Oh, my God, I must have bombed this!’ I honestly didn’t expect to place, but I ended up getting 3rd place!
That’s so awesome! What’s your competition prep like?
Well then, I didn’t really prepare. But now I do and it’s helped me so much. My process is pretty much musical inspiration first. From there I just flow and let the combos come to me naturally. The floor work is something I work on first because that’s my challenge. I like to take my dance to the next level and find new things to expand my dance moves. Finally, I study the crap out of my videos and run through my routine as much as possible. It literally consumes me. I’ll train all day and then go home and study my videos until I go to sleep.
What do you eat when you’re competing?
A lot of chickpeas, avocado, rice, beans, fruits. I’ve been Vegan since 2012, around the same time I started to compete. I started to care more about my body when my mom got breast cancer. It made me really consider watching my health. That led me to being a full time vegan. I’ve noticed with training, my muscles recover a lot faster on a vegan diet. Taking my health to another level has really helped me with my training and my success.
What is life like for you outside of pole?
Outside of pole, I like to tap into my creativity in different ways. I actually make music and currently I’m making some new music and working on an album. I love making hip hop the most because I like what it sounds like, but I don’t always like the subject matter of popular music. That’s kind of what inspired me to start making my own music. My music is uplifting. I rap about the challenges we face in the world, but I don’t just focus on the negative. I talk about love, peace, being more respectful...but with swag. Not all corny. I want to keep the same swag of the music I like, but with a different subject matter.
You are the owner of two pole fitness studios, Foxy Fitness and Pole Training Studios, located in New Jersey and New York City. What inspired you to start your own studios and what principles drive your studios?
Honestly, I just wanted to compete. But my business partner, Virgil, is who inspired me to teach. I’m so grateful for him motivating me to do that because now I love being an instructor. This is my life passion and I feel like I’m making the world a better place because of what I do. It’s a blessing that I found this life path.
At our studio we instill into our girls confidence, love, peace, and respect. All the advanced people welcome beginners and all the beginners get support from advanced people. It's a very welcoming and family oriented studio. We’re about growth and being the best version of yourself.
How do you balance teaching, owning two studios, and developing your own practice?
I’m really blessed not to have to do it all on my own. There are some people who literally started their studio with no one but themselves. I’m grateful to have Virgil, Yumiko, Shawanda, Kristen, and all these amazing people who put in their part to make everything run smoothly.
How has pole defined or shaped who you are?
I definitely think pole has made me a lot more confident in myself. The challenges you eventually overcome are what build your confidence. You don’t realize the opportunities you can have to get on stage, or obtain a move you’ve been working on for so long and how that actually builds your confidence outside of pole. You look at yourself and say ‘Here I am doing things I never thought I could do, maybe I can do other things too’.
How would you describe your pole style?
My pole style is definitely power flow. I love doing power moves, but then being smooth and a little sensual throughout my pieces. I admire some polers for how sharp and big they can make their moves, and then there are others who are so smooth and just move like butter. I enjoy showcasing both those sides. I basically try to pole as crazy as the dudes pole, but I add that feminine touch to everything I do.
You are known for doing some pretty crazy moves. What is the mental process for doing those moves?
I definitely try to take the proper safety precautions like using mats and getting a spot. But, it’s more so a lot of mental control. The fear...it can not be there. That is the main thing I focus on when learning a move. Instead of saying ‘Oh I’m scared of this move’, I tell myself, ‘This move is thrilling, this is fun, this is exciting’, so that my mind is not resorting to fear, which will distract me from execution.
That is so powerful. Your routines are also very high energy. How do you gain and maintain that stamina?
Usually, when I start prepping for competition, I don’t have the stamina to do what I want to do. I literally have to just keep doing it and doing it. I don’t stop. A lot of times when I compete, once I’m done with the competition, I stop running through pieces. Once you stop running through, you lose your stamina, so I have to go and build that back up each time I compete.
What are you most proud of?
I’m definitely most proud of my studios. They’re a place where so many women go to heal, relax, release stress...I feel like the studio is my biggest accomplishment. It’s my baby and that baby is making the world a better place. I feel like there aren’t enough business owners who make that their number one goal. My number one goal has always been to have a place for women to get better not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually - in their own way and at their own pace.
What’s next? What are your pole goals?
I want to compete internationally. That’s my main pole goal right now. There’s also a couple pole moves I want to achieve. And I want to get a few of these albums done. I just want to continue to spread more love and positivity.
What advice do you have for people wishing to compete?
I would say just do it! Give yourself 4-6 months to prepare for your first competition, and don’t expect anything but to have the courage to get on that stage and put forth your best piece. I never recommend pressuring yourself to place. That just makes it not fun. Pole is being done for fun and I would recommend not losing sight of that joy.
What do you wish the world knew about pole dancing and pole dancers?
We are the funnest, coolest, most accepting people in the world. We are open minded, we’re hard workers, we come from all different backgrounds, and we just are popping.
Complete the following. I pole because _________.
I love it!