How a Colorado pastor fell in love with pole dancing — and overcame the stigma, too

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s a common religious teaching to not judge others. What isn’t found in the Bible, or any other religious text, is anything to do with pole dancing.

“I took that intro lesson, and I was just in love immediately,” Diane Martin said, describing her first pole fitness class.

Seeking a new form of exercise, Martin first starting taking pole classes eleven years ago. It didn’t take her long to realize she stood out a little from the rest of the participants.

“I was like 20 years older than my fellow students,” the 62-year-old said.

But her age wasn’t the only reason that set her apart. So did her profession.

“I am the Assistant Pastor at Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church, which is an open and affirming church here in Colorado Springs,” Martin said.

Pastor Martin cheerfully refers to herself as the “pole dancing pastor.”

“It was a healthy way, a healthy approach to healing from the stresses of ministry,” she said.

The reaction from her church when she first started wasn’t positive.

“I have been called harlot,” Martin said. “Some of them actually asked me to take the magnets off the side of my car when I pulled into town so I could keep it hidden.”

Martin pushed through the stigma. Not only did she change churches, she decided to buy the pole studio.

“God didn’t uncall me to the ministry when I discovered pole,” she said.

Martin says her current church loves what she does as a pole fitness instructor.

“It goes to show that anybody in the community can be a part of a pole studio,” Krista Moss, current owner of Pole Revolution, told Denver7.

Martin sold the studio to Moss a few years ago, but stayed on as an instructor. The pastor’s story is one about breaking through barriers to overcome snap judgments and stigma, similar to what the sport of pole is trying to do.

“We are in the observation period for an Olympic event so we could potentially have pole sport in the Olympics in 2024,” Moss explained.

And if you don’t think that pole sport is Olympic-worthy, or that a pastor shouldn’t spin on a pole, Diane Martin has a routine to show you.

“They come with preconceived ideas of what someone who does pole is, they come with preconceived ideas of what a pastor is like, and it explodes both of those ideas and gets them to maybe look at things a little differently,” she said.