For many young athletes, the desire to compete leaves a void after they peak in their “prime” and move on to other aspirations. Filling that competitive void is somewhat of a challenge to most; however, Veronica found her competitive spirit and fell in love with sports all over again. This time, she fell in love with pole dancing. Her passion for the sport was ignited as she learned a new skill set and achieved some of the highest honours in the industry.
Growing up as a provincial level gymnast, Veronica Solimano was like many young athletes that started looking for something beyond the books, after high school. After her undergrad in Biology from UBC, she discovered pole dancing. She was always enthusiastic to try the next move and learn the next skill. Soon, pole dancing became the most fun exercise she’d ever encountered. Tammy Morris, her pole instructor, has a wealth of knowledge to benefit students wanting to learn anything and everything. Tammy advises to, “remember it’s about fun and your own experiences. Focus on what you’re doing and constantly improving."
Veronica decided to pursue her Masters in Physio, which took her away from Tantra Fitness. While she was away, she couldn’t find the same mix of great people who shared her desire to improve beyond the classes. She returned to Tantra in 2008 and confirmed all the differences she had encountered at other studios. Tantra was more fitness-focused. The teachers all had a philosophy to share as much knowledge as possible.
“The most important thing is that you’re having fun. It’s so easy to let yourself be beat up and start comparing yourself to everyone in the industry and your classes." In 1-2 classes per week, Veronica was hooked on new moves and kept pole dancing as a fun hobby while building her career. She really liked the community at Tantra and started teaching when the opportunity arose.
It makes sense for a great student to become a teacher, but the next opportunity came as a surprise: the chance to compete at Miss Pole Dance Canada in 2010, the same summer as her wedding. She received so much encouragement to compete and the feeling was surreal until the moment she got on stage. Placing 3rd in the competition exceeded Veronica’s humble expectations of just taking in the experience. She focused on competing more in 2011.
Unfortunately, one month before a competition, she sustained a wrist injury and was forced to withdraw. The road to recovery took almost 10 months, but Veronica came back with a fully healed wrist and a drive to train harder, “I started in 2004 and realized I loved it. I wish I would have focused when I knew I loved it.” In the beginning of 2012, she was in the studio 4 days per week, multiple hours at a time. It didn’t stop there; she was going to workshops, watching videos, and bringing friends to Tantra Fitness. Her eyes were set on competition again.
Her training was put to the test at the 2012 Canadian Pole Dance Championships. She arrived to see tough competition and didn’t expect to win at her first competition back. She knew she was in better shape than the competition in 2010, but was still feeling like a newcomer who would be competing against the best in the country. Reflecting back on the previous competition, she realized, "You perform so much better if you just focus on yourself and what you’re doing. Enjoy the moment. You’re competing, but you have to stop letting it be just about the competition and start enjoying the moment. I just decided to focus on the moment.” The hard work and dedication she put in paid off. Veronica won!
This was more than just a victory. She would be heading to Zurich to represent Canada. Despite Veronica’s nerves, the community was incredibly supportive. She would be competing against a lot of the people she looked up to and would be judged by world-famous professionals. She had spent hours watching these pole dancing stars’ videos to help her train. Each of the four preliminary categories had 12-14 competitors, and Veronica made it all the way to the finals. The best advice Veronica can give in situations where you feel outmatched: "Stay true to your style. There are so many types, figure out what works for your body and what you like.”
Encouraged by how friendly and welcoming the international community was, Veronica made the decision to take a leave of absence from work. She spent seven months touring around the world to teach and compete internationally, leading up to the Rio World Cup in 2014, which she won. Now a world champion, Veronica had little time to think about what was next. Her pregnancy determined the next exciting chapter of her life, but it wouldn’t diminish her passion for competing and pole dancing.
“The path was worth it. It shaped who I am today."