Studio Owner Spotlight: Alena Downs – PoleJunkies – Canada
Alena Downs – Owner of PoleJunkies in Canada
In 2003, Alena Downs was crowned with many titles which claimed she was one of the best entertainers and pole performers in Canada. Her stage show drew attention from Vancouver to Halifax. During her travels, Alena offered classes to dancers and everyday women on Sundays in every city that she could. She could see the need for this art to be brought into the public eye!
In 2004, the first instructional classes in Edmonton began with Sunday afternoon bar classes in the local clubs, then grew to in-home classes in an 800 sqft basement that was renovated to be a small pole studio. In 2005, online virtual classes were a technology breakthrough for Alena. The www offered her the ability to teach anyone globally, and never leave the comforts of her own home. In 2006, with private classes reaching capacity, a switch was in store for Alena.
The online classes and private students were taking a toll. Offering classes 30-45 hours per week was a physical reality that the turning point was near. Something had to give. The announcement was made that Alena’s family was to move to Calgary, which meant the Edmonton PoleJunkies would be shut down and relocated to Calgary.
In September 2007, a new location was found for PJ’s in an existing fitness facility in the NE of Calgary. Within 24 months, the need to expand and grow was very apparent. In October 2009, the 17th ave location opened its doors to those alternative fitness enthusiasts…both men and women. The second level was open for operation in April 2010.
Alena never forgot about PJ’s Edmonton. With supporters in Edmonton continually requesting another studio to open…the pressure was on to not forget her home town.
After 2 years of seeking to find no space, no acceptance of the art, and high price demands….July 2010 marked the re-creation of PoleJunkies Edmonton. Alena joined forces with a local pole instructor as a working partner, to enable the opening of the long awaited studio. . In 4 short months, she was shown what a bad business decision looked like as the studio was almost bankrupt. Alena stepped back in to pick up the pieces and save the business she loves. By the first anniversary, PoleJunkies 2nd studio was back on its feet, and the support she received from her staff and students was unreal!
Since Alena loves the month of April (it is her birth month), another PoleJunkies location in Calgary was born! April 2013, PoleJunkies Calgary SE location, was created and reflects the advancement in the pole industry to include 3 studio rooms to accommodate our growing art.
PoleJunkies has struggled over the years with societies impression of this growing art, but is now soaring high…offering quality instruction across Alberta! All of our instructors hold certifications in one or more of the following; AFLCA (Provincial Fitness) certified, PFIC (Pole dance for Fitness Instructor Certification) certified, YAA (Yoga Association of Alberta) and understand that there is no right or wrong way…but there is a SAFE and UNSAFE way to learn pole.
Name of Studio: PoleJunkies Studios
Location(s) of Studio(s):
2629-17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB. CA
5701-17 Ave SE, Calgary, AB. CA
6563 Gateway Blvd NW, Edmonton, AB. CA
Studio Website/Contact Info/Social Media:
Years in Business: 13
Classes Offered (Tell me about your business!):
Pole Dance & Fitness, Aerial Yoga, Aerial Hoop, Aerial Silks, Barre, Exotic Dance, Hip Hop, Lap & Chair Dance, Pole Tramp Cardio, Bootcamps, Specialty Party & Events.
What did you do for work prior to opening your studio? (what is your background?)
My history, prior to PoleJunkies, includes professional modelling, accounting, marketing and exotic entertainment. Since includes, fitness, human anatomy, sport coaching and injury prevention.
What inspired you to open your studio? (i.e. were you a student, previous dancer, fitness freak, etc.?)
As a dancer, people asked to learn what I was doing on stage. I went from teaching in clubs on Sundays for 3 years, to a home studio, then to an online studio before opening a physical one.
What do you find is the biggest challenge in running your studio?
Staffing and underhanded individuals.
What do you find is the biggest reward in running your studio?
My staff & students progress…and the doors that journey opens.
What is your favorite thing about owning a pole and aerial studio?
I never need a gym membership, lol, and I have met some of the most amazing people in my studios!!
What is your mission as a studio owner?
Educate. Create awareness of options for fitness and social interaction.
What are your business/studio goals for 2017?
We have some changes coming…but it’s a secret! 😉
Other Info about you and your business that you would like to include? (events you organize/run)
Aside from being a daughter, a wife, a mom, a grandmother and the owner of 3 PoleJunkies Studios..I am also the Creator and Chair Director of PFIC Canada (Pole and Aerial Fitness Instruction Commission of Canada.
We offer 3 nationally recognized and insurable courses to Canadian Instructors. Pole, Aerial Yoga Fitness and Aerial Hoop/Lyra.
We are the only commission to offer our own full and all inclusive insurance policies to studios with employees as well as independent contractors.
What do you think is your biggest source of income for your business? (memberships, parties, events, website, coupon deals, Facebook, etc.)
Course registrations are our biggest source, but party season is always busy!
Words of inspiration/advice to new studio owners?
Research, make sure you are not replicating. Be original. Immitation is not flattery, it’s theft.
Learn what to do before you do it! There are many incredible courses in pole and business! You would think a business would be worth it!
Don’t be underhanded, respect others as you wish to be respected. This includes staff, students and competing businesses.
Teach as you want to learn…wholeheartedly, and never stop learning.
Nothing comes for free, you either invest time or money. Sometimes you need to invest so much time to save money, that you end up losing part of your life. You may not realize it until it’s too late. I was fortunate to have an incredible spouse, who forced me to learn balance, but have seen it happen far to many times.