Slice of Life Spotlight: Phoenix Rising Dance And Fitness

Vivian Pounds-Gray
Owner, Phoenix Risng Dance And Fitness

One of my goals with my new blog feature called Slice of Life spotlights is to show off the many interesting facets of authors' lives. Some people may perceive writers as two-dimensional with writing and possibly family life as the only interests. However, we have other passions, hobbies, and pursuits of happiness that are part of our lives. 

Meet Vivian Pounds-Gray (aka Vivi Dumas, author of paranormal romance) who is now the proud owner of Phoenix Rising Dance and Fitness (PRDF) in Frederick, MD.  Here's her personal journey to discovering another passion. (Note: Mention this blog and you will receive one free introductory class.)

What prompted your fitness focus?

Losing weight has been a goal for so long ever since I injured my back in 1995, but like so many, it was a struggle to find something that worked. I tried most diets and diet products that came on the market. I lost weight and gained it back. For a while, I kind of gave up. The weight loss life can be a roller coaster. I went to the doctor for a physical when I turned 40. I was at the heaviest I'd been at 287 pounds. They were telling me the only option for my back was to fuse my vertebrae together. I wasn't willing to try another surgery.  I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. That diagnosis pretty much flipped the switch for me.

My grandmother lost her legs then eventually her life to diabetes. I didn't want that fate for myself. The thing I recognized at that moment, and I'm sure we all realize at some point and time, is we all know what we need to do. The missing element is commitment. Everyone has a different trigger to get them to commit Once I found the motivation, it was about setting up a system of eating and exercise that worked with my life.

With all the various options available for exercise, why pole dancing (or is it pole fitness)?

A sample of PRDF's class

There are so many options for exercise and I've tried a lot of them. Some people like sports. Some love running. Others are gym people. I was never really great at sports unless you count bowling. I think only bowlers count bowling as a sport. With my back issues, running was not an option. Plus, I've always hated running. I went to group fitness classes because I like the accountability of being in a class with other people. This accountability is probably why going to the gym alone and doing things at home weren't a great fit for me. You know how you pop in the exercise DVD and start working out then all of a sudden you're eating a cookie critiquing the form of the person on the DVD? that just me?

For my 40th birthday, me and some friends did a private pole dance party. It was hard, so much fun. We laughed and had a good time, but definitely felt the workout. It took me about 2 or 3 months to go back and sign up for a class. I really wasn't sure if I belonged in that world. Once I joined a class, I was hooked. It was challenging, no one in class made me feel like I didn't belong, and I had fun. I loved that the classes we small. Our group grew together and supported each other. It was like gaining a whole new support system. As my strength grew and my body started to transform, the confidence I once lost started to push through to the surface. I think this is why I've embraced pole dancing.

You’ve taken it a step further with adding business owner to your many roles. What inspired you to make such an investment?

Madness might be a reason, but it's truly a labor of love. I remembered my struggle for so many years. I search for something not only to loss weight, but I needed something to prompt a transformation from the inside out. Pole dancing helped spark that transformation. Not just the physical work of pole dancing, but the community of women that surrounded me and cheered me through the times I wanted to quit and listened on the days I need to talk. This showed me that we as women needed more than just a workout. We need a place that helps us with total well being. I wanted to build a space to provide a community that supports us in our journeys to reconnect with ourselves and our wellness. The studio is one step towards this goal.

What services does your center offer? Tell us a little bit about the staff?

We offer a variety of services: regular in studio classes, private lessons, private parties for all occasions, and workshops. We do pole dancing, chair dance, floor work, conditioning and flexibility training. We have a schedule of classes available but we're currently looking at the curriculum and added classes as our student base grows.

Right now we have 3 instructors, including myself. I love that all the instructors have different styles and personalities. They have various backgrounds in the pole and fitness industries. We all work together to combine our talents and skills to bring safe and fun programs to our clients.

Who’s the target market? What do you say to the shy souls who may want to do it, but are hesitant?

Our target market is women 18 and older looking for a safe, non-judgmental space to work on health and wellness. I don't promote weight loss because that's not everyone's journey. What we want to promote is health and well being, that can mean a variety of things. 

For those who might be interested but hesitant to come to a class, I would say this:
  1. The hardest part is walking in the door.
  2. Almost everyone else in their 1st class feel the same way you do.
  3. Most people aren't strong enough or flexible enough or dance well enough on day one. That's why we have a class. It's a learning experience.
  4. We're all on our own journey. Don't compare yourself to anyone, especially the people you see on videos or someone else. Do this for YOU!
  5. It's not about sex. can be a nice by product if that's what you choose, but it's more about connecting with ourselves and building confidence. You can translate that confidence in many aspects of life. Many of us never dance outside the studio or dance for our significant others. 
  6. Call and talk to a studio near you. Ask questions. Get a feel for the studio. I will say that each studio has a vibe of its own so you need to make sure it's a good fit for you.

Interested in checking out Phoenix Rising Dance And Fitness, here's the following information to keep you informed and updated:

For your reading enjoyment, here's Vivi Dumas's Sweet Revenge

Amazon: E-book and Paperback 

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. What if that woman is a demon, in fact, Lilith's very own daughter? Isabella LaCoste vowed to get her revenge on her ex and his new human fiance. She didn't commit fifty years of her life to be thrown out like last season's runway fad. But taking vengeance on an upper-level Shifter Demon and the newly crowned Voodoo Princess might not be a one demon job. She volunteers her services to Lucifer to deliver Angel and Jacque in exchange for his help. She never expected her new partner in crime would fill the void in her broken heart.

Not even death brought him peace. Xavier Toussant wanted out of his contract and the killing business. His last assignment was his own brother and he failed to deliver. Lucifer didn't appreciate his valor in dealing with his brother, Jacque. In fact, it only created more problems. Xavier's back on assignment to capture his brother and the Voodoo chick. Only this time, he's shackled to the craziest female in the Underworld. Xavier finds Isabella LaCoste might be the one thing to put his soul at ease.