Person of Interest: Colleen Jolly


Colleen Jolly is an ultimate hustler in the city. Between her fulltime graphic design career and part-time pole-dance instructor at Pole Pressure in Capitol Hill, she doesn’t have a lot of time to waste. We managed to catch up with the AAFA-certified personal trainer, entrepreneur and pole dance enthusiast to see what life is like for her in the District.

What’s a typical day for you?

coffeeEvery day has to start with coffee—otherwise nothing happens. I’m quite fond of a brand called “Death Wish” which promises 200% of normal caffeine levels although I can’t take a full pot of Death Wish. I did that once and got the shakes. I head to my first business (a graphic design company) in Virginia and work until around 5 or 6pm, then home to the District for a healthy dinner and back out again to my pole studio in Capitol Hill to teach or to train until around 10 or 11pm. After that, emails and social media for the businesses and catching up on life stuff like laundry.

What or who is your biggest influence?
I don’t really have any idols or mentors. Regular people, who rise above their circumstances and do something to genuinely help others, even when it is something small, inspire me—like helping a blind man to a bus stop or recognizing a job well done at work or using your blinker in traffic. I think there is good in all of us, but some days it can be hard to spot.

What neighborhood do you live in?

Capitol Hill. I started my DC life living in Georgetown, moved to Woodley Park and did a brief stint in the U Street area before moving for good to Capitol Hill—been here 10 years.

parkingWhat is your biggest DC pet peeve?

Other drivers. Seriously there are some people that should not be on the road. Mostly tourists, sometimes diplomats, often all sorts of people who can’t park either.

What is the #1 most played song on your iPod?  

Right now it’s a toss up between Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”—I’m a 90s girl and her video homage to “Clueless” really made me love that song—and “Sweet fancyTransvestite” from the Rock Horror Picture Show. It’s the song for my next big pole dance competition in November.

Favorite DC haunt?

I went to Georgetown for my undergrad and think I spent most of my 4 years there living in the Tombs. So for nostalgia’s sake definitely the Tombs. Now that I live close to H Street NE I love getting into Granville Moore’s for some moules and frites as much as possible which basically means staking it out on a Tuesday afternoon and praying.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?

sundaySunday is my heavy training day. I start with flexibility training then move to cross training with lyra (hoop) which is particularly good for building upper body strength and grip, then I teach a free pole dance intro class once a month with the other weeks we host open gym time. If I could train more on Sundays I would but I think my arms might fall off. Usually I make it home and into an Epsom salt bath before that happens.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Definitely Detroit. I love a come back story and am truly amazed at the urban renewal and entrepreneurial renaissance going on in the Motor City right now. I’m avidly following it digitally and my husband and I are heading there for New Years.detroit

If you couldn’t be a pole dancer, what would you be?

I would totally be a motivational speaker. I’ve gotten a little taste of this and did a keynote speech to 800 people in May. I love being in front of a crowd and if something I’ve done or learned helps someone else—it makes me like I’m doing some good.

Top three favorite movies?

Labyrinth, Dune, Fifth Element (the perfect being is a kick ass redhead – seriously, what is not to love about this movie?)

Name five people, alive or dead, you’d love to invite to a dinner partytim

Joss Whedon

Marilyn Manson

Frida Kahlo

Tim Gunn

Chef Todd Gray – someone needs to cook for us, duh

Most embarrassing moment?

Oh boy. I’ve had a lot of those. I am the type of person that sticks my tongue in the light socket after sticking my finger in it just to confirm the feeling was as bad as I thought. In business, I’ve made a lot of language mistakes, especially dealing with people outside the US. Sometimes the words I use and think are fine are totally inappropriate in another country. In fitness, I’m afraid of heights (I know, I know, pole dancer is a really silly thing for me to be doing) and I went indoor rock climbing with a friend who was an avid climber and about half my size. Near the top, I got scared, lost my grip and went flying off the wall. rockclimbingWell, the purpose of having someone belay you on the ground is so you don’t fall very far if you do miss a grip. Since she is so tiny, she was immediately lifted off the floor and we met in the middle spinning around each other until the staff came and untangled us. That was embarrassing and terrifying.

What was your major in college, and do you use it today?

I started as a Computer Science major and realized I hated math so I quickly changed to be an English and Art Major with a Computer Science minor. My first company is a perfect match for English and Art and not quite and obvious choice for my second business in the fitness industry. I was a very overweight and non-athletic child so I’ve had to learn everything about movement, dance, nutrition and exercise as an adult. I was also in a serious motorcycle accident 11 years ago when my right leg was shattered. It’s been incredibly difficult for me to become an athlete, get certified as a personal trainer and legitimately feel like I can help other people figure out what fitness means to them. Now I do pull ups for fun; 8 year old me thinks I’m crazy.

Who do you think is the most attractive person to ever live?

johnmalJohn Malkovich hands down. He could just read me the phone book alllll daaaaay.

Name one thing most people don’t know about you.

Many of my friends know of my irrational preparations for the impending zombie apocalypse (totally the only reason I got Lasik), but many of them do not know that I am also deathly afraid of tsunamis and have a strong aversion to vacuum cleaners. Clearly I was a cat that lived in Atlantis in a former life.

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