Ellicott City's Pole Pressure fitness studio defies gravity and expectations

Ellicott City's Pole Pressure fitness studio defies gravity and expectations
Instructor Danielle Quirion of Baltimore strikes a pose at the Ellicott City Pole Pressure studio, located inside Quest Fitness. (Nate Pesce / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Leave the high heels at home.

A different kind of fitness class in Ellicott City puts the “dance” in “pole dance,” all in the name of staying in shape.
Located through the doors of Quest Fitness on U.S. 40 and in a 600-square-foot studio space that opened in November 2014, Pole Pressure is taking away the erotic perceptions often associated with pole dance classes and bringing the athletic and competitive aspect of the fitness craze to the area.
“We do back flips and handstands and consider it very much a sport,” says Jessalynn Medairy, 29, director and owner of Pole Pressure. “We put people in a safe environment and help them to push their limits.”
The class is more circus and less sexy. Medairy says she was drawn to the sport aspect of pole fitness and wanted to bring the gymnastics- and dance-based curriculum to the community through her studio, part of a chain with other locations in Washington, D.C., and Virginia.
The space features seven to eight poles with 14-foot-high ceilings to accommodate flips and moves that require a lot of vertical space.
When she isn’t teaching classes, Medairy is out performing, bringing her moves to SAX, a club in Washington, D.C., where she does aerial pole shows on a second-floor platform in a cabaret setting over dinner.
Any way you flip it, Jeannine Richardson, 40, a private physician from Baltimore, says she has seen a dramatic change in her body after taking up pole fitness when she bought a Groupon and thought she’d give it a try.
“It’s a huge challenge physically and mentally,” says Richardson. “Sometimes you don’t get the trick right away, and it’s a feeling of accomplishment when you finally get it and gives you a lot of pride in what you do. It’s just a full-body workout so it’s been a game changer for staying in shape.”
Richardson went from having very little dance and gymnastic experience to grabbing first place in her categories at the Southwest Aerial Art Championship and the Melee on the Bayou competitions this year.
For Karen Conn, 50, a former Shock Trauma nurse from Lisbon, the pole fitness scene enticed her to put down the kettle bells and start training in something completely foreign to her.
“I took her class, and I fell in love with it,” Conn says. “I’m more flexible than I’ve been my entire life.”
She’s even taken it a step further, transforming her husband’s former music room into a pole fitness studio above her garage. And when it comes to taking on the world of competitive pole, she says it may be in her future.
“I’m interested in constantly cleaning up and learning new pole moves and making my body look like it does in my head,” Conn says. “You’re definitely your own worst critic.”