What would the love child of ballet and gymnastics look like?
Wonderland Pole and Dance studio, said owner Lindsey Ross.
“It’s like the gym and the club mixed and made a baby, or like the love child of gymnastics and ballet. All the things! I want to meet the need for women that I felt like I needed growing up,” she said.
The new pole dancing studio is at 1823 George Washington Way, sharing a building with Safeway in Washington Plaza in north Richland.
After 11 months of renovations, Wonderland Pole and Dance opened its doors in October 2022 after nearly $120,000 in renovations.
“We spared no expense when it comes to safety,” Ross said. “A majority of the costs come from the beams, but it was literally an empty shell when we got the space. I designed it.”
Wonderland features two studios: one with nine 13-foot chrome poles and another with the engineered beams for aerial arts.
Ross secured a loan through Community First Bank. Total Site Services was the general contractor. Meier Architecture did the engineering.
Ross’ fitness journey started about five years ago when she started working to become a women’s health and wellness coach after making changes in her own life. She said she had been obese since she was 7 years old.
Her coach plans changed once she discovered pole dancing during the pandemic.
“The poles are 6 feet apart so I said, ‘I’ll try it,’ ” she said. “Plus I have four kids, so I needed to get out of the house for my mental health. I’ve come into this thinking, ‘I’ve never felt pretty. I’ve never felt sexy.’ I had imposter syndrome.”
When she moved to the Tri-Cities in 2021, she noticed there wasn’t a dedicated pole dancing studio.
After 17 years of being a stay-at-home mom, she decided to open her own.
She and her husband moved to the area from Virginia for her husband’s job with their four children, ages 9-17 years old.
After two days in Washington state, she had to fly to Michigan as her dad was diagnosed with Covid-19.
“He passed away. It was my first time losing a parent,” Ross said. “I came back and focused on the studio. My dad is very much in all of this.”
She threw herself into fine-tuning her vision for the studio, a process that helped her through her grief.
“If my dad were here, he’d say that I’m deserving,” Ross said. “I worked so hard to get here. My dad would be very proud of me.”
She took inspiration – and the name of her studio – from a favorite quote from “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll: “This is my dream. I’ll decide where it goes.”
“Wonderland is the concept of making things what you want them to be, being curious, trying something different and being yourself,” she said.
Since opening the studio, Ross said that Wonderland has trained about 200 students, or “Wonderland Babes,” as she calls them, through Pole 101. The studio enrolls about 50 members.
Most classes are booked, with waitlists for some classes.
The studio offers pole dance classes from beginner to advanced levels, plus floor flow, which offers instruction on “exotic floor work,” chair and lap dancing, and aerial arts classes. The studio is for those 18 and older.
“Our classes are very fun. They’re very laid back. We don’t do diet culture,” Ross said. “We do not do shame. We don’t set goals in terms of weight but in terms of getting a move. We celebrate our bodies for what they can do, rather than what they look like.”
Ross said students can expect to spend three to seven months training before completing some of the more advanced moves. Some members of the gym travel to the west side to compete in Pole Sport Organization competitions.
“Everyone says don’t expect to make a profit the first year,” Ross said. “I’m saying, ‘Hold my smoothie.’ It takes a lot of combining your mind and body. Realizing they can do things that are really hard. It’s empowering. We can do hard things. We repeat that a lot.”
While women are the primary customers, Wonderland welcomes men and all members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Customer privacy also is important. The studio has floor-to-ceiling window coverings and prohibits recordings or photos without dancer consent.
Alcohol or drugs are prohibited at the studio, even at private events.
Drop-in classes start at $29, while memberships start at $99. Class packs, private dance lessons and party/event packages are also available.
Wonderland Pole and Dance: 1823 George Washington Way, Richland; 509-420-4869; wonderlandpoledance.com
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