The pole truth: Winona welcomes new pole dancing studio, Perception Body and Pole


Nathan Kronbeck

Perception Body and Pole is a pole dancing fitness studio on Mankato Avenue right here in Winona, Minnesota.

Erich Schweitzer, News Reporter

Staying fit is great but doing so by running and lifting heavy things can get boring and tiresome after a while. If you are looking to spice up your workout routine or just find a fun new way to stay fit, it may be worth checking out Perception Body and Pole in Winona.

Perception Body and Pole is a pole dancing fitness studio on Mankato Avenue right here in Winona, Minnesota. It is currently one of the only studios in the area offering classes for pole-dancing. Perception Body and Pole opened in January of this year and is run by Winona State University alumni, Ashley Wagner.

Wagner’s pole dancing journey started in six years ago in La Crosse because there were no studios in Winona at the time. After buying her own pole and a small rental space in La Crosse to store it, Wagner eventually began to teach the craft there until she opened Perception Body and Pole.

Since there is not much opportunity for pole dancing around Winona, Wagner’s new business has drawn a lot of attention.

“I think a lot of people are just genuinely curious about pole dancing and what it can do for the body,” Wagner said.

There is certainly a lot that pole dancing can do for not just the body, but the mind as well. Wagner claimed that it can be a very empowering activity.

While not being very athletic before she started, Wagner said that she is now “doing things that I never thought I could do.”

Another benefit Wagner mentioned is that pole dancing has a small but supportive community.

Despite this, there are also many misconceptions about pole dancing that Wagner wished to dispel. First off, it is not just an activity for women. Wagner said that she has had students who are male, female and non-binary. She also teaches people of all ages.

“You don’t have to be athletic or strong or a certain stereotype to fit in here,” Wagner said.

Perception Body and Pole offers many classes, both for beginners who are curious about the sport and choreography classes for more experienced pole dancers. There are also more flexible drop-in classes as well as series classes held over a period of a few weeks. There is even a non-pole class on Saturdays which Wagner said is a mix of yoga and pilates.

One of the series classes is intro to pole, a beginner pole dancing class taught by Lindsay Killilea, a 35-year-old childcare worker who started pole dancing in September 2021. Killilea was taught by Wagner when she was still teaching out of a small rental space. Killilea has an online pole certification and began teaching at Perception Body and Pole recently.

Killilea was originally “super nervous” about pole dancing, but once she started, she “absolutely fell in love with it.”

Killilea talked about how pole dancing has benefited her, citing specifically “the confidence that it builds.” She also stated that “the pole community is so amazingly supportive.”

Killilea understands that some people she teaches may not take to pole dancing the same way she did, but nonetheless stated that “even if there’s just one other person that can find the same benefits from that in their life and move forward and have it change so many things for them; that would be simply amazing.”

Most importantly, Killilea also added on that pole dancing is “simply just fun.”

One of the students of Perception Body and Pole is Anna Sophia Wolner, a 27-year-old barista. She originally heard of Wagner from an instructor in La Crosse.

So far, Wolner has only taken an intro class and a few open pole classes but is eager to advance and enjoys “working hard on the basics so I can do more complex and difficult choreography in the future.”

Wolner seems to really enjoy learning pole dancing, saying that “the satisfaction and empowerment derived from accomplishing something I never fathomed I could do is positively thrilling.”

Wolner recommends others try the classes at Perception Body and Pole, saying that the classes are reasonably priced and that Wagner is a very welcoming and supportive instructor.

Wolner’s main piece of advice for people thinking of doing it is “just try it!”

Wolner also stated that people should not “let preconceived notions about your own abilities or the societal stigmas attached to pole stop you from trying it,” and that pole is “adaptable and fun.”

No matter your age, gender or athletic ability, pole dancing is a unique and exciting way to improve both your mind and your body. Pole dancing is a sport for everybody.

Perception Body and Pole can be found at 302 Mankato Avenue in Winona and on Facebook.