Written by: Erin O’Brien
The name Terri Fierce is well known around the pole world and rightfully so – not only are her achievements as both a solo performer and as part of the powerful pairing with Lisette Krol astounding and monumental, they have ignited a nation and continue to inspire Irish pole dancers and athletes to strive for gold – Ireland might be small but we have big dreams.
Terri’s titles include: All Ireland Solo Champion 2012 &2013; IPSF World Doubles Champion 2013; World Pole Dance Sport & Fitness Doubles Champion 2014& 2015; and IPC Pole Art Doubles Champion 2015.
With a list like that it could be easily assumed that meeting Terri would be daunting to say the least, and when I first met her I didn’t know what to expect; in Wexford in 2013, I had the pleasure of taking a workshop with Terri and her boyfriend/partner Michael Donohoe and two things struck me: first, that she is as gorgeous as I had imagined, but more importantly how humble and down to earth she is. Terri made me feel comfortable right from the start, something that adds to her extensive knowledge and experience to make her an excellent instructor.
Over the years I have gotten to know Terri and have enjoyed watching her star rise even further, her performances always leaving audiences in awe of her strength and precision of movement. I am honoured to be able to call her a friend and was lucky enough to steal some of her time to ask a few questions:
Q: How and when were you first introduced to pole fitness/dancing?
T: I did some classes in The International Dance Academy in 2007/8 and fell in love!
Q: Were you hooked immediately?
T: Yes! I mean, this sport has everything, as far as I am concerned. Coordination, strength, dynamics, flexibility and grace. I wanted to learn so much.
Q: When did you first open your studio in Maynooth?
T: I opened in Maynooth in 2009 and it was the best thing I have ever done!
Q: Your boyfriend/partner Michael Donohoe teaches alongside you at your flagship studio – what has it been like working together?
T: It’s been amazing! He is the other half of me, the side which keeps me calm and centered and happy. Fierce is complete with him at the helm with me. Plus obviously he adds all his hand balance, fitness training and circus knowledge to the mix, which is awesome!
Q: You have a passion for teaching and your students love you, is it as rewarding as you imagined it would be?
T: Even more so! It means everything to me when a beginner gets a trick she has longed for, or when an intermediate student finally gets her aerial invert. This for me is what it’s all about. I don’t care if they’ve never seen my routines or if they never want to compete themselves – I just want them to have confidence in themselves and do something that makes them happy and feel good.
Q: You are considered, and deservedly so, one of the best pole dancers in the world and have brought focus onto Ireland as a hot spot for pole talent – is it important to you to cultivate the growing pole talent in Ireland?
T: Ahhh staaaahhpp! I’ve been on the pole scene in Ireland for almost 8 years and it has been wonderful to see this country blossom in terms of pole talent. The industry here has really grown and the community is a friendly and supportive one, with lots of different styles. For me, it’s all about watching people develop as artists and watching my students get fitter, stronger and more confident. I’m grateful to have Fierce as a base for people to come and share the love of pole together.
Q: Do you have any tips for pole athletes/dancers battling nerves during competition time?
T: Every single performer I have met deals with pre-show/competition nerves. Being prepared is vital. Eating right and having a sensible training/recovery schedule is so important! The best advice I could give while competing is to concentrate on your breathing and keep your head in the game. Focus on what you have to do and remember that you are more than capable.
Q: You and Michael are both vegan athletes – how has this transition impacted your training and the way you feel physically?
T: Our transition to a vegan lifestyle has impacted us physically for sure. We get all the protein we need, which is everyone’s first question! In a day we eat porridge, a ton of healthy salad greens (which we grow in our back garden), lentils, beans, rice, tofu or Linda McCartney sausages and LOTS of vegetables, The fat in our diet has dropped considerably but for me the decision was never dietary. I feel better inside for being vegan. I don’t believe animals are here for me to kill and having been vegetarian since I was 12, I never wanted to have a part in their suffering or deaths. Becoming vegan was just an extension of that and I would never go back.
Q: Please share with us one of your favourite moves along with two tips to help us all achieve it.
T: One of my favourite moves is the Phoenix! This trick was hard won for me because I am self-taught, so it took me a long time. The best way to learn it is to concentrate on speed and distance from the pole, and you can use this momentum to help you invert. And be sure to do a full and thorough warm-up on both shoulders!
So, even though it is super unfair that Terri is gorgeous AND nice at the same time, we will forgive her because she has been, and still is, blazing a trail for not only Irish pole dancers to follow but dancers and athletes around the world.
It is safe to say that Fierce is a powerful and positive studio that will continue to go from strength to strength. I feel it is only right to end with the quote that adorns the wall of the Fierce Fitness Dance Studio and is so very true: “And though she be but little, She is fierce” – Shakespeare.
About Erin: Originally from South Africa, lives in Ireland with her husband and two daughters. She is a fitness instructor who teaches spinning part time while using all available other time to immerse herself in her one true passion: everything pole