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Meet Diane Martin, The Female Pastor Who Pioneered Pole Dancing In Her Community

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Pole Dancer

Diane Martin is unique in her field. 

“I am quite possibly the only ordained minister in the world who also owns a pole fitness studio,” Martin’s Facebook page reads. Indeed, her combination of passions is rare, and both often carry a heavy stigma. 

Martin has used her joint career as a pastor and pole dancing instructor to overcome personal challenges, as well as to battle stereotypes in her community.

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She walked a long road to reach this point.

Martin was married at 19 and began to attend her husband’s Pentecostal church, which proved to be austere and oppressive.

Women in the congregation were silenced, and discouraged from pursuing higher education. Martin’s religion became entwined with subjugation and shame.

But she managed to break free.

Martin left the church when she was 32, and her husband four years later. At the age of 36, she began attending seminary school, reclaiming her faith from the toxic culture of her former congregation.

At the time, Martin told the Gazette, “I had never seen a female pastor.” 

“I never would’ve put myself on a pulpit anymore than I would’ve put myself on a pole,” she recalls. “Anything like that was so foreign.”

Martin was ordained in 2004. She began to embrace the unconventional in all aspects of her life.

The pastor took her first pole dancing lesson in 2008. At 49 years old, she had twenty years on most of her classmates, and “had never really been in shape.” 

Nonetheless, “I fell in love with pole on my first spin,” Martin says. 

At the time, an intense stigma surrounded the activity.

“At the time, you were careful who you tell and how you tell it,” Martin explains. “It was something really taboo. Some people still see it that way.” 

As an ordained minister, Martin faced even more judgment for participating in the pastime, but she had decided she would no longer be held back by the opinions of others. 

Although pole dancing is not always taken seriously as a sport, acceptance has grown over the past 13 years. 

Pole is now recognized by the Global Association of International Sports Federations, having gained observer status in 2017, and is being considered as a category in the 2024 Olympics.

However, in 2008, pole dancing as a sport was a brand new concept; and Martin pioneered its presence in her community.

“Pole was brand-new in Colorado Springs back then,” she recalls. “I had never known anyone who had done it.”

The pastor wanted to help people gain the same confidence she had, so she began teaching pole out of her basement. Her first students included her two daughters, then in their early 20s. 

Martin worked to create an environment that was accepting and accommodating to pole enthusiasts of all genders, fitness levels, and walks of life.

“I love helping students who feel unattractive or clumsy to find their beauty and grace,” she has written.

By 2011, the endeavor had gained traction, and Martin was able to open a small local studio called Pole Revolution.

Nicknamed Pole Rev, the name references Martin’s role in the church. 

According to Martin, it also signifies the way that pole dancing has “revolutionized my life.” She says that pole taught her how to love herself, and helped her heal from her painful past.

Martin sold Pole Revolution to former student Krista Mauss in 2017, but she remains with the business as an instructor. One of her daughters also teaches there.

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Pole Revolution’s practice is built on mutual support.

“We're not in it to show each other up; we're in it to build each other up,” the studio’s website proclaims. 

The protegés at Pole Revolution support one another, laughing through classes and cheering on classmates who master new moves.

“I see a massive increase in confidence,” Mauss says of her students. “You see it in the way people carry themselves. They feel strong. They feel beautiful.”

These shifts manifest Diana Martin’s dream of helping others. She has also reopened her own basement studio, under the name of South Springs Pole. The company is built around inclusivity, and advertises "pole fitness for everyone."

Martin is happy to see students at her current and former studios gain confidence and appreciation for their own bodies.

“The reward, for me, is helping other women find their own self-esteem again,” the instructor said.

“That is pure joy.”

Martin is currently employed as a pastor at Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church, which describes itself as “a progressive and inclusive congregation.” 

She joined the church last fall and says pole helped her find the confidence to make the transition.  

In her previous pastoral experiences, Martin did not feel that her love of pole dancing was accepted. “There were still people who would judge me or never were comfortable with that piece of my life,” she said. 

At Pikes Peak, the pastor feels she can be herself.

Martin preachings at the new church often reference her passion for pole. One move, in particular, called the “stag,” is used as a metaphor in her sermons.

“You can do this position with your torso just kind of upright,” the pastor explains. “But if you lean into it, if you lean forward into it, that’s when it really works.”

Martin compares this motion to the process of self-development. Through the practice of pole dancing, she has managed to overcome many hurdles in her life. The exercise has given her confidence and strength and paralleled her journey to empowerment.

“If you’re really wanting to move forward in your life and in your spiritual journey, you have to give it some extra effort,” Pastor Martin says.

“If you want to overcome the obstacles and get past them, you have to lean into it.”

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Allie McGlone is a writer who covers a variety of topics for YourTango, including pop culture and entertainment.