Kheanna Walker is an international pole star and instructor, a social media powerhouse, global polewear brand Pole Junkie’s creative lead, podcast host and the latest professional winner of Pole Theatre UK Classique. Do I need to say more about why I wanted to hear from her? Well, if that wasn’t enough she’s an all-round sweetheart. I had the chance to meet Kheanna in person when we were both judging at the Pole Weekender in November 2021, and thought it was about time she appeared on bloggeronpole.com. Here, we explore her experiences of pole dancing worldwide, her exciting, sky-rocketing social media presence and her teaching and performing career.
The start of Kheanna’s pole journey
Based in Glasgow, United Kingdom, Kheanna is actually from Canada. At 27 years old, she has already lived in four countries – Canada, the United States, Australia and, now, the UK.
Kheanna has always been very active, even as a child – something that you can probably tell from the powerful combos and insane tricks she shares on her Instagram profile. She mentions competitive swimming, synchronized swimming, soccer, track and field, the gym, cheerleading and yoga as some of the sports she took up. She says: “My parents put me in sports at a very young age because there are so many benefits to playing sports, especially as a child: they teach you how to be disciplined, how to be a team player, how to develop social skills, and theyâ€™re amazing for your health.”
Before she became an international pole star, Kheanna was on a mission to become a TV presenter. She studied Communications at Concordia University in Montreal, thinking she’d stay in her home country to work in entertainment. “But life is unpredictable,” she says. “I ended up moving to Australia after my degree and that was where my pole career really started.”
Considering she’s such a social media powerhouse, you probably won’t be surprise to hear that she found pole after seeing someone post about it on Facebook. “I quickly googled the studio and lo and behold: it was a three-minute drive away from my house. First class was free so I honestly had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Once I went to my first class, I was hooked.” Why? Because, she says, “nothing really sparked a deep passion the way that pole did.”
Now, her pole dancing style is a blend of glorious flexy tricks on spinning pole and powerful static combos. “When Iâ€™m not in the air, I like to bring in acrobatic elements and dynamic transitions in my standing pole flow and floorwork,” she adds.
Kheanna and pole competitions
Kheanna pole danced recreationally in Montreal for about two years before she became exposed to a whole new world of pole dancing in Australia. She says: “The scene there is competitive yet vibrant, and I soon discovered that pole dancing could be both a passion and a profession.” In Australia, Kheanna started competing, something she calls a “completely nerve-wracking yet incredibly rewarding experience.”
I spoke to Kheanna before she competed (and won) Pole Theatre UK in the professional classique category. A few weeks ago, she told me: “Iâ€™m definitely feeling the pressure,” she says. “My family is coming all the way from Canada to come watch me!” Pole Theatre was her return to the scene since her last competition in Australia in 2019, as well as her first time competing in the UK and as a professional. She was both excited and nervous: “I love competing because itâ€™s a massive challenge to prepare for one – physically, mentally and financially. It requires a lot of time and sacrifice which is why Iâ€™m quite selective as to when I sign up for competitions.”
Now, she says: “Winning the Pro Classique category was a dream! I was so surprised when I heard my name called. It was so good to share that experience with my family. That is a night I will never forget.”
Despite the nerves, Kheanna’s attitude towards competing is very zen. Having fun for her is the main goal: “Thereâ€™s no use in competing if youâ€™re not going to enjoy the day. You want to look back on that memory and feel happiness, not resentment. [Getting] too wrapped up in winning or losing can take a lot out of the experience.” Still, she advises competitors to make sure they create something they can be truly proud of so that no matter the outcome, they can leave knowing they gave their all.
Some of Kheanna’s competition preparation tips include: “Put in the time to master your performance and make sure youâ€™ve got it down to a T. Make sure you read the judge criteria beforehand so that you know what they will be looking for. Watch videos of previous winning performances to get a good idea of what the judges like.”
Finding balance when teaching pole
As part of her passion for pole, Kheanna teaches both offline and online classes. She teaches classes and workshops on Zoom, and works at three Glasgow studios: Alt Fitness, Pole Place and Pole Physique, and she is also training to become an XPERT Fitness Trainer in 2022.
Although she does teach a lot, Kheanna tries to carve out enough time for herself so that pole can still be something she loves. She says: “I realized that for me personally, teaching too many hours doesnâ€™t fuel my soul. I absolutely love teaching, but it takes a lot out of me and I donâ€™t like teaching when I feel drained.” This was particularly true during the pandemic, when she was “in fight or flight mode”.
She says: “I had just moved to the UK and had to start my pole career from scratch.” She adds: “I started picking up teaching jobs wherever I could, and I became incredibly stressed, tired and overwhelmed with the hours. Even my passion for pole started fizzling away, because I never had time to train for myself.” Kheanna knew something wasnâ€™t right, and decided to take a step back and reduce her teaching load.
Now, she says finding a balance is key to still loving what she does: “Iâ€™m very particular about how many hours I do. I will never teach more than five hours in a day, and even five hours is a lot. On average, Iâ€™ll teach two to four hours in a day and thatâ€™s perfect for me to complete my work with Pole Junkie and any other work that I do.”
“Sometimes it takes a while to know what works for you, but thatâ€™s okay.” She adds. “Just trust your gut, listen to your intuition and pay attention to your mental health and energy levels.”
Working at Pole Junkie
When she’s not doing mind-blowing tricks, teaching or performing, Kheanna works as creative lead at Pole Junkie, one of the most popular global pole brands out there that I interviewed just last week. She’s been working with them since June 2020, starting off as social media manager. Now, she has been promoted to creative lead – so you know who you have to thank for all those snazzy, educational and inspiring pole videos you’ve been saving on your Insta!
To me, PJ has been a brand to watch not just because of its exponential growth, but for its ability to take a stance on issues that matter to pole dancers: so far, PJ has advocated for issues surrounding sustainability, diversity, censorship, poverty and war, using the brand’s platform to raise awareness about global problems, making donations to charities and sponsoring certain events or fundraisers that align with their values. Kheanna says this is very much something the founders believe in: “Iâ€™ll have to give all the credit to Kirsten and Heather because they are the ones who lead the brand when it comes to getting involved with outside/political issues.” She adds: “They are both really good at taking a stance on what they feel is right and I have always supported their views.”
Modelling, podcasting and the social media creator life
Kheanna’s many passions have led her to work on different aspects of being a social media creator, from modelling to podcasting. She says that modelling can be similar to pole dancing because, for her, it consists in finding a persona to take on in front of the camera. But modelling is way less stressful: “I find modelling a lot less stressful than performing pole because youâ€™re not standing in front of a crowd of 300 people,” she says. Still, even if she enjoys modelling, it’s not something she likes to do full-time: “Some days, I’d rather just be sitting behind my computer, working away with my glasses on, no makeup and baggy activewear… But once in a while, itâ€™s really nice to get pampered for a shoot. I mean, who doesn’t love getting their hair and makeup done and then taking cute pics?”
However, perhaps my favourite aspect of Kheanna’s off-the-pole life is her podcast, Queens of Hustle, available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Exploring culture, fitness, business, media and everything in between, for Queens of Hustle Kheanna is interviewing pole dancers (including yours truly) and creatives such as wellbeing consultants and singers.
“Iâ€™ve always been passionate about interviewing people who inspire me,” Kheanna says about the inspiration behind her podcast. “Thatâ€™s what I thought Iâ€™d be doing for a living before I decided to pursue a career in pole. Once I moved to the UK and started listening to podcasts religiously, it made me really want to start one of my own.”
About her guests, Kheanna says: “I am constantly surrounded by inspiring people who are doing cool things. I just wanted to create a platform where I could share their stories about business, fitness, health, mindset, race, gender and everything in between. And thatâ€™s what Queens of Hustle is all about.” And it’s not just about queens – her guests include queer artists and men, too.
Kheanna’s podcast aligns with her plans to help the pole industry do better. She says:
“In the future, I want to help make the pole industry to become more accessible and inclusive for all different types of people – no matter their gender, race, sexual orientation or disability. I also would love to find ways to create more paid opportunities for performers, because we deserve to be properly compensated for our time and work.”Kheanna Walker
An all-round powerhouse
Whether it’s pole tricks, social media management, media production or competing and performing, there doesn’t seem to be much that Kheanna Walker can’t do. She seems like that girl at school who just got everything right, but the bonus in this is that she’s actually lovely.
If you don’t already (and if so, where have you been living), follow Kheanna below: