Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Anyone who follows social trends has probably noticed the growing popularity of pole dancing as a form of recreation. However, the casual observer may not be aware that pole dancing is not a whimsical reenactment of its vogue style dancing; it is a serious workout which has evolved into a competitive sport. Amy Bond, a San Francisco attorney who is the owner and operator of San Francisco Pole and Dance, embodies this evolution. Bond who discovered pole dancing while attending Boston University Law School, now not only teaches the emerging sport, she is a competitive pole dancer herself. Recently she reached out to Murray Athletic Development to guide her with her rigorous training.
MAD caught Bond's attention because of their work with blood flow restriction. BFR is a method of training which carefully restricts the blood flow during workouts allowing the athlete to achieve greater benefits with less weight and fewer reps. MAD has been working with Sean Whelan and his company BStrong to help them develop their BStrong Blood Flow Restriction System. According to Whelan's partner, Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen, M.D., CMO/co-founder & developer of BStrong,“BStrong is a paradigm shift in the way we exercise. You can now exercise smarter, safer, and improve your overall strength and fitness in less time with greater results." Bond, a competitive athlete, spends a minimum of two hours a day on her own training - a mix of strength, conditioning, contortion-style stretching, pole dancing and aerials in addition to teaching and so she welcomes anything she can do to make her training more efficient and to lessen its wear and tear on her body. After an introductory training session, Bond sees the wisdom and value in how MAD integrates the BFR Training System into its own unique training regimen, and she is enthusiastic to continue her training with MAD.
Bond comes from a very physical family. her father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps., and her mother was one of the first women to graduate from West Point. Not surprisingly, parental discipline in the Bond Family was certain and swift, "Drop and give me 50!" Major Mom used to say when the kids got in trouble. Although her parents ran a tight ship, spirit among the troops was high, and the Bonds, a close family, spent a lot of time together hiking and skiing.
Typical of a military family, they moved frequently, but Amy and her siblings always participated in competitive, team sports. Amy, a serious athlete, swam on the varsity team and excelled in long distance events. She also competed on the track and synchronized swim teams.
Fast forward to 2010, when Bond moved to Boston to begin law school at the Boston University School of Law, she was looking for some form of exercise to complement her studies. She saw an ad for a pole dancing class and decided to try it out. It would be a transformational experience for the young, Terrier law student. Bond remembers the exhilaration of the physical exercises on the pole, but with the use of so many different muscle groups and the myriad body positions and configurations, it was the mental aspect of pole dancing that she found most stimulating. "It was like my mind was on fire." Bond recalls, "It seemed like every synapse was firing." By her third year at B.U., she found herself juggling her law school schedule around her pole dancing classes. She had found her passion.
After earning her law degree in 2013, Amy and her husband moved to San Francisco in order for Amy to pursue her legal career. They found a 400 square foot studio into which they were able to squeeze a queen sized bed and Amy's pole. Amy located one of the few pole dancing studios in San Francisco, and upon enrolling, the owners promptly recruited her to teach classes. In 2016, after just a few years, Amy and her husband bought the studio renaming it San Francisco and Pole Dance. She formulated a three year business plan but within six months, had surpassed her three year projections and needed to expand into a larger space. Today S.F. Pole and Dance occupies over 2100 square feet, with 8 poles, 60 classes, and 25 employees. In addition to their S.F. location at 301 8th St., they will soon be opening a second location at Adams Point, in Oakland, near Lake Merritt.
When she is not building her business, teaching classes, training other pole dancers, or practicing law, Amy Bond competes in pole dance competitions at a professional level. Yes, pole dancing is now a competitive sport. The sport has evolved into two fields of competition. The first is judged on technical proficiency, much like the balance beam in gymnastics. The second field requires solid pole technique, but performance is also evaluated on artistic expression, similar to freestyle ice skating.
Interpretive pole dancing is more than performance art; routines have developed into theater pieces in which the artists create choreography based in storytelling. The challenge of this communication lies at the core of Bond's passion for pole dancing. She loves the creative process whereby she conveys her story, through her acrobatics on the pole, to the audience. Though in any given interpretive piece, the pole can stand as a metaphor for numerous things: time, distance, dreams, stream of consciousness, or any number of physical objects. However, Bond likes to think of the pole as a journey. As she traverses the pole, the arc of her character unfolds, and at the opposite end of the pole, the character is transformed.
As in all her undertakings, Bond also has achieved success in competitive pole dancing, winning the 2016 semi-pro Pole Theatre Pole Comedy division, and also competing in the 2017 Pole Theatre Pole Comedy professional division. You can enjoy her performances which are posted online at www.amybonddancesinthesky.com. The videos are both interesting and entertaining,as are Bond's comments explaining the performances and her creative process.
From her vantage point atop San Francisco's pole dancing community, Bond foresees the continued growth of pole dancing as a recreational activity, a competitive sport, and a performance art. She points to K.T. Coates, the U.K. woman who is crusading to have pole dancing recognized as an Olympic sport. As an art form, she also envisions the continued evolution of pole dancing from a theatrical production which focuses on the dramatic, sensual, artistic, and sexual elements. Bond sees both trends as beneficial for the sport's participants, for its audiences, and for society as a whole.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Amy Bond is presently working on a book, and on some longer, stand-alone theater pieces to be performed on the pole. Amy still practices law, as a legal advisor for startups and as a pro bono attorney for immigration and family law clients. For more information about Amy Bond or San Francisco Pole and Dance, visit their website at https://sfpoleanddance.com/ .