Member Spotlight: Flirt Fitness
Amy Schoonover’s career as a pole instructor and founder of her studio all began with a Google search. Although she was a capable salesperson, she was ultimately dissatisfied.
“After I had my son, I just didn’t like my job anymore. I was good at it, but I wanted to do something I truly loved,” said Schoonover. “I loved the fitness industry, but didn’t want to be a personal trainer… so I Googled ‘weird fitness certifications,’ and found pole fitness!”
In 2013, Flirt Fitness opened its doors to the women of West Michigan.
Pole dancing is a high-intensity workout that strengthens all areas of the body, but most especially the core and upper body. In recent years, it has gained credibility in the athletic community not just as a form of exercise, but also as a competitive sport and artistic expression.
For the staff of Flirt Fitness, pole is also a way to promote community, sisterhood, and body positivity. “Being a fitness studio is secondary to what we really do; which is creating an unbelievable community. We call this place a safe haven for women to feel comfortable in their own skin and fall in love with who they are and their own bodies,” said Schoonover, who considers herself the mother hen of the studio. “The side effect of it is getting fit and flexible, having a great time, and being involved in great events.”
Interview with Amy Schoonover: Founder, CEO & Instructor for Flirt Fitness
What was your first-time pole dancing experience like? Were you a natural at it?
I found the certification online and was boxing and working out regularly at the time, so I thought, “Yeah, I can do this!” I went to Chicago and showed up at the studio – and every single person at the certification class was a pole instructor except for me. One of the things we had to do to pass the certification was freestyle our way through a song. I remember thinking, “This is crazy. There’s no way.” All I could do was stand there with my back against the wall. Then, I saw all these women of all different shapes and sizes moving so confidently in their own bodies. It was one of the most inspiring moments of my life. I thought that it was sad that I wasn’t as comfortable in my skin as I thought. So I closed my eyes, brought my arms up… and knocked over a lamp! It was the most embarrassing thing ever… but I got through it!
What sets Flirt Fitness apart from other studios and gyms?
With most gyms and even other studios, it’s not necessarily a community. Some of them don’t even have front desk staff. You just get a key card, pay monthly, do your workout, and go home. Even as someone in the fitness industry, I get intimidated going to gyms! It feels so competitive. Our studio is designed to feel like the living room of a home. When people come here, they’re welcomed at the door, and everyone supports one another. We’re a family.
What are the major challenges you face running Flirt Fitness?
The most beautiful thing and the most challenging thing about it is that it’s all women. My studio has to be run differently because of that. That’s why, when I hire staff here, the first thing I look for is nurturing and caring characteristics. One of the last things I look for is if they’re good at pole, because I can train them in those aspects. It’s more difficult to teach someone how to care for people.
How has being a Chamber member helped you grow your business?
I joined when we first opened because we believe so much in community and we’re looking to take that community outside the confines of our studio. In my opinion, no better entity can help us get involved with the rest of the city than the Chamber. That’s one of our goals this year!