You might normally view dance lessons and fitness classes as separate entities, particularly if you are just starting out. Trena’s Studio merges these two concepts and participants are praising both the internal and external benefits.
“These classes are for women of all shapes, sizes, ages and skill levels,” says Trena Graham, a professional dancer, instructor and owner of the studio. “A lot of people think that it might be all skinny, young women taking the classes, and that’s not the case…We’re a non-judgmental environment and everybody is welcome.”
Growing up in Lower Sackville, Graham was fascinated with dance from a young age. In her early 20s, she moved to Ottawa to take classes and then teach at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. When Graham moved back to the city, she started training with Michel Dubé and they soon became dance partners. Together they still teach and perform a variety of styles, including rumba, salsa, jive, swing and ballroom.
In 2006, Graham started Trena’s Studio out of her home. It grew to such popularity that two years ago, she opened the current location at 1119 Bedford Highway. The business offers dance and fitness classes, from classic Latin, ballroom, hip hop and burlesque to boot camp, zumba and TRX Cross Fit, as drop-in classes, workshops, multi-week sessions, private lessons and even themed parties.
One of the main features of Trena’s Studio is pole dance. Graham completed two intense training programs with Sheila Kelley, known as the pioneer of pole dancing, after seeing the dance instructor on an episode of Oprah.
“There’s a stigma attached to the pole,” says Graham. “…Some people think that we teach women how to look sexy…It’s really not about that. It’s about learning to be appreciative and feel confident with your curves, with the female form, and to be unapologetic about your movements and to feel confident in yourself.”
Six years ago, Twila Creaser began taking pole classes with Graham. “I knew I needed to do something to get active again after having my second child and it was also a good excuse to enjoy an hour to myself,” says Creaser. “I knew that for me, joining a gym wasn’t going to work.”
Creaser thought her interest would only last a couple of weeks. But she was immediately hooked. She now teaches at Trena’s Studio and even competes in national competitions.
Creaser says she is in the best shape of her life. “When you start to notice the difference in your physical self, you start to feel better, too,” she says. “But, it’s so much more than that. Seeing just what you can do and how wonderful it feels, you become more self-accepting, self- aware, and ultimately self-confident. When women tune into their own bodies and the power it holds, it can’t help but start to have an impact on other parts of their life.”
Graham says to meet the growing interest of their clients they’ve started offering pole memberships that offer unlimited pole drop-in classes, and other benefits, such as discounts on other types of workshops and parties.
A new program is also in the works that Graham is developing with the studio’s boot camp instructor, Shandel Short. “It’s going to be a program that combines fitness, nutrition and education to make that lifestyle change, from women who want to lose those last 10 pounds to women who want to lose 30 or more pounds,” Graham explains. “We’re going to group the ladies together according to their goals. Women being in an environment that have the same goals is really important and it makes them feel a lot more comfortable.”