INTERVIEW WITH TANYA & GEMMA CHEUNG
Are you also curious about the acrobatic duo Tanya & Gemma? We are so happy that we got the chance to interview them to get to know more about their pole journey, their first performance, their future goals and tips for flexibility. A lot of good stuff you don’t want to miss! If you would like to see more of these inspiring women and follow their pole & aerial journey you can find them on their instagram accounts @tanyaxcheung and @gemma_cheung . Happy reading!
Names: Tanya Cheung & Gemma Cheung
Ages: 27 & 35
From: Northern Ireland
Occupations: Pole & aerial instructor at Flyaway Aerial studio & Gymnastics instructor
Tell us about your pole/aerial background!
I first started pole 7 years ago after watching a video and decided that I’d give it a go. After my first lesson, I knew it was something that I was going to love. It had the same athletic elements of gymnastics and ballet that I did as a child. Shortly after I started aerial hoop and silk. I was teaching piano in a music school then decided I wanted a career change, I opened Flyaway Aerial Studio with my sister in June 2015 and it has been the best thing I’ve done.
I first started pole dancing when I lived in Dubai. Around 7 years ago now. Pole had just become popular in Dubai and I had seen some cool videos on Instagram so I wanted to give it a go. I found a class close to me and started going twice a week. I instantly loved it and soon bought a pole for my house. Unfortunately the studio I went to closed down after a year or so, so I started self teaching from Instagram videos on my pole at home. How ever once I reached a certain level I found this rather frustrating to teach myself and soon lost my love for pole, that was until I moved back to N.Ireland and started taking Tanya’s classes at Flyaway Aerial studios. Now I’m obsessed again. With regards to Aerial silks and hoops I done weekly lessons for a while when I lived in Dubai. These days I don’t do much silks but hoop is still a passion of mine. Today I’m a qualified Aerial hoop instructor. Tanya and I have previously competed double hoop and performed double aerial hoop/lollipop.
When did you do your first performance and how did it feel?
I remember when I first started I always said that I’d never perform or compete… How wrong was I? Haha I think I did my first performance at my studio’s first showcase, looking back I can see how much I’ve improved! I always get very nervous before performing but after the first few seconds then that feeling goes away and I try my best!
The first time I ever performed was last year at the ALL IRELANDS POLE DANCING CHAMPIONSHIPS talk about throwing yourself in at the deep end!! But I loved it! I was surprisingly calm on the night and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was a competitive gymnast growing up so I guess my mind just slotted right back to my gymnastics competition days.. I ended up placing 2nd in the Amateur category . I was elated. It was such a buzz I got from performing at night.
Where do you find inspiration for new tricks and combos?
Instagram! I am inspired by so many different pole dancers and I really enjoy learning new tricks & combos. I love how social media can bring everyone together and that the Pole community is so supportive & friendly.
Instagram. Let’s just say my saved items on my Instagram is VERY long!!
Do you have any pole/aerial related goals at the moment?
I would love to get better with static pole, more dynamic, flippy, strength based pole tricks and combos. Maybe a little bit of exotic pole for next year too 🙊
Yes I’m competiting next month at The All Ireland’s pole dancing championships and this time I’ve moved up into the Elite category and my goal is to win it and qualify for world championships next year. Tanya and I are also competing in our first ever pole doubles competition at it too. We are hoping to place in the top 3.
Tell us about your best tips for increasing flexibility? How often should you stretch and which are your favourite exercises?
I always tell my students to stretch at least every other day if they want to increase their flexibility and to move more. I am really enjoying doing kicks to warm up my legs and trying to actively hold my leg up to build up strength.
Like everything the more you stretch the quicker you will see progress. I like to tell everyone on their stretching journey to take loads photos so you can see even the smallest bit of progress to keep you motivated. As for my favorite stretches I’d probably have to say all the yoga wheel stretches as I have very stiff shoulder and chest so the yoga really works for me.
How has pole dancing positively affected your life and why would you recommend it to others?
I absolutely love pole and would recommend it to everyone! My favorite thing is that I have met so many amazing people through the studio and the pole community. I feel extremely lucky to be doing a job that I have a passion for and I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities because of my pole.
Pole dancing has made me push myself outside of my comfort zones in regards to competitions and performances. It’s made me physically stronger and mentally in regards to sucking up the pain to master moves and I love how tight knit the pole community is. It’s super fun, makes you fit why wouldn’t you want to do it 🙂