Bendigo will field two performers in the Victorian Pole Championships in June.
Professional Nina McDonell and amateur Jacqui Pethybridge from Z Fit Studios have both qualified for the national championships after strong performances at the state championships.
Their appearance at the Victorian Pole Championships makes Z Fit Studios one of three Victorian studios represented in the competition which is the largest of its kind in the country.
For McDonnell it is the first time she has competed as a professional.
"It is intimidating but I'm excited for it," she said. "Originally, I Entered the state competition as an amateur but because I had competed in a state level competition it qualifies me as a state level professional.
"So it is scary but at the same time it's an amazing opportunity for me and our studio to have two instructors competing at such a prestigious competition."
McDonnell, who is the pole manager at Z Fit, took up an interest in pole after seeing a demonstration at a music festival.
"I was a ballet dancer and I saw a girl doing a performance at a music festival as sideshow entertainment and I thought it was amazing and that i could do it," she said.
"Anybody that wants to start often says they have got no upper body but nobody does when they start.
"Pole can be for all ages, and all shapes and sizes. We do monkey kids, so small kids and have had people in their 60s doing it."
Pethybridge began as a student at Z Fit and has since become an instructor.
She said she loves the physical challenge of pole and thrives on the mental challenge of getting on stage.
"I was so surprised when my name came up," she said. "The choreography for this routine celebrates my pole journey over the past seven years.
"I am so grateful to (Z Fit owner) Saari, Nina and the rest of the Z Fit family for their support and I look forward to sharing this experience with them all."
McDonnell said pole dancing is taken much more seriously than it has been in recent years.
"People are more aware what (pole) is about because it gets a lot more media coverage," she said. "Things like Australia's Got Talent are bringing it to the mainstream, so people think 'oh yeah, I get it now, it is a dance and an art form.
"Once you've tried it for yourself, you realise how difficult it is. Your first time up there is very scary but the pole community encourages each other and that's whats good. It's very empowering and encouraging."
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