Meet Ashley Popoli, Founder of Vertical Addiction and Woman on the Move

"Meet Ashley Popoli, Founder of Vertical Addiction and Woman on the Move"Tell us about how you chose your career/business and what your responsibilities include?
I started pole dancing over 5 years ago after being approached at the gym by an instructor.  The problem for me was the closest studio was over 45 minutes away!  I didn’t mind at first because I really enjoyed the class so I went. Eventually as I realized I had potential to be a serious athlete in this sport I began commuting to the number 1 studio in the world in NYC.

After a couple years of immersing myself in the industry and sharing my passion for this sport with friends, people began to ask me if I would open my own studio locally as there was not one. I thought about it for a while and eventually decided to pursue it!  Things began to snowball one after the other to bring VA to life and in September of 2012 I opened the doors!

I run all operations of the studio from creating the schedule, staffing, customer service, payroll ,etc. It’s hard when you’re small to find the means to pay others to do the work.  I do have an incredible staff however who promotes as well.

Tell us about your company?
Vertical Addiction is such a special and unique studio.  Technically we are a pole and aerial arts studio offering pole fitness, flygym, aerial hoop and specialty workshops. However what actually happens inside the studio is so much more powerful and life changing. I inspire women to step outside of their comfort zone to try new things, things they never thought possible and I help them to achieve them.

I’ve seen young girls walk into my studio with low self confidence, looking for a change and some hope and now a few months in they are full of pride and self worth. They make friends, build relationships and learn what it means to lift someone else up.

I’ve seen stay at home mommies who want to feel sexy and do something for themselves. What they get in turn is so much more. They feel inspired to go out in the world and create their own goals, to take control of their own life and realize they matter too.

I thought I was creating a studio to teach women aerial arts, but what I’ve created is a home full of women who have finally found their purpose, their passion and their self worth.

"Ashley Popoli, Founder of Vertical Addiction"What are some of the most fulfilling projects you have been involved with so far?
One of the things I’ve most proud of is hosting Fairfield county’s First Ever Pole Fitness Showcase.  Being in this industry is no walk in the park especially in a conservative area. Many people still have never heard of pole fitness or still relate us to strippers. Don’t get me wrong I have no issue with someone wanting to strip, but that is nothing like what I do. After learning this sad truth I decided I wanted to bring even more awareness of this sport to the community.

So, in the summer of 2014 I decided I would host a showcase!  I invited other local studios to participate, I called my friend Jerry from the Chamber of Commerce who runs the events at the Hilton Hotel and one thing after another I put this show together. I asked for volunteers and not only my students but students and owners of other pole studios jumped up in excitement to help. On October 17th, 2014 (one day before my birthday!) I hosted Fairfield County’s FIRST EVER pole fitness showcase. The event was a hit. We maxed out the event room and had to add more chairs. We had over 20 performers and 4 studios participate. The viewers were impressed and so captivated by what they say. Guests came up to me after the show and told me they had no idea THAT was what pole fitness was and they can’t wait to bring their friends next year.

I was not only proud of myself for putting this show together, but I was humbled. Humbled to have so many women participate and support this endeavor. Humbled to see the passion that I’ve helped to instill in new dancers. Humbled by the glimpse of hope that one day pole fitness will be main stream and everyone will know what I’m talking about.

Are there any people in your field you would like to meet and/or work with and have not yet had the opportunity?
Honestly no. I know this may seem strange but after I realized I wanted to get serious about this sport I started training at the number one studio in the world under the coaching of Kyra johannesen. She is one of the most sought out pole coaches and choreographers in the world and also co owner of the studio, Body & Pole. I also came to know her partner Lian. These 2 incredible women have become my mentors. I know I am in the right direction with their guidance and feel truly blessed to have met them both.

What are some of your favorite ways to network?
Doing demos!  I’ve done the whole networking event thing but like I said because people don’t understand what pole is, I don’t feel we have fruitful conversations. However putting a pole in front of people and showing them what I can do is a whole nother story!  They are instantly intrigued and realize how incredible this sport is. From there I am able to have a good conversation.

Do you have a mentor – if so how did you choose one another? If not, is this something you think would benefit your career and is there anyone you would like to have as a mentor?
I have two mentors. Lian & Kyra from Body & Pole. They are the real pioneers in this industry and people from all over the world want to meet,train and talk to them. I’m fortunate enough to train at their studio and have developed relationships with them. They have helped me immensely with growing and building the studio.

What have you learned from your mentor? What do you hope to learn?
I’ve learned a lot about what to do and what NOT to do. The nots are just as important as the do’s 🙂  They’ve helped me create clear guidelines for how the studio should operate so students know what to expect. They’ve coached me on dealing with certain customer service issues. They’ve also shed light on things to be careful of. Their insight has undoubtedly helped me to avoid costly mistakes.

What’s been the most surprising thing that has happened to you so far in your career?
I think there are two, both on extreme opposites from one another. On a positive note I never expected that the studio would impact my students lives in the way that it has. The testimonials and stories I hear still surprise and shock me. I never expected to impact their lives in the way I have.  On the other side, I’m still shocked at how close minded people are. I’ve reached out to local businesses to build relationships and work together and the amount of people who have closed the door in my face because they think what I’m doing is inappropriate is shocking. It doesn’t stop me, if I took it personally I would have closed my doors a long time ago haha.  It just fuels me to work harder.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?
I really believe in maintaining balance.  Don’t get me wrong there are weeks and months where i am totally out of wack, the joys of running a business!  But I try to disconnect, and i mean really disconnect; turn off my phone, don’t check emails, etc. and treat myself to something I want. I love to spend time with my family, friends and my boyfriend. I have 4 sisters so seeing them is always a priority. I also love going out to new restaurants with my boyfriend. We love to try new places!

Any parting advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Gosh there’s so much I could tell you but I think this is most important. Do something you are passionate about, something that you feel will make a difference. On the days you want to give up there will be a strong WHY as to your reason for doing what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!  I promise you it will pay off so much and people want to help you. Just ask!  Last, take time for yourself. There is always more to do but you need to walk away sometimes. It’s actually really beneficial to disconnect, it clears your mind and when you return you are more focused.

What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you?
Visit our website, we have videos, bios, class descriptions and all the info on taking class with us. .  also like us on facebook! https://www. VerticalAddictionLLC we are constantly posting class videos, updates, exciting news and more. It’s the best way to stay connected with us.

Feel free to contact us directly too: 203 883 8383.