Seven years ago, KT Coates could hardly get a local gym to take her seriously when she propositioned the idea of teaching pole dancing classes for exercise. Today, she and a small but dedicated team of pole sports enthusiasts are campaigning to get the sport into the Olympics.
"I went to so many gyms and they said I was disgusting. They shut the door on my face," she recalled.
Coates got involved in pole dancing on a whim — as a struggling actress and dancer in the U.K. in 2003, a friend brought her along to try pole dancing, and she caught on quickly, immediately recognizing that the activity was closer to a sport than it was to stripping. From there, she went from gym to gym, until one pioneering studio in her local Hertfordshire agreed to let her teach a class. From there, the classes expanded to other gyms and even some gym chains, and Coates eventually opened her own studio, called Vertical Dance.