Pole Journeys

Interview with Chelsea Snaps: “I just want to have fun and do cool tricks.”

Jul 28, 2023

By Sara Schreiber

Featured photo by Danny Carmen

Ten years ago, Chelsea Snaps asked a friend about the aerial silks classes at TGR Fitness. That friend, a poler, said, “Try pole instead.” Chelsea did and although she has dabbled in silks and other aerial arts, she’s stuck with pole dancing. “It just hooked me right away,” says Chelsea.

As a life-long athlete in cheerleading, track, and gymnastics, Chelsea’s body was pretty well prepared for the sport of pole. “I remember being surprised at how much easier it was to catch on than I thought it would be,” Chelsea says. That’s not to say she didn’t find the first class challenging. The instructor taught them a dance routine, and when Chelsea wasn’t able to do all of the tricks, she found herself inspired. “I was like, ‘I want to be able to do what these girls who have been doing it for a while are able to do, so I better try harder, try new things, and come back,’” Chelsea says. After having her son in college, she needed something new to feed her active soul. “Pole became that for me. It was the sport I needed after leaving the sports that I couldn’t continue to do,” Chelsea says.

Photo by Britney Brown

In July of this year, she celebrated her ten-year pole anniversary and she’s had so many accomplishments along the way. Although her usual style is performance theater and comedy, when Chelsea first took to the Land of Lakes Pole Festival stage, she did an exotic routine. In 2019, she solidified her comedic style with a Mowgli (The Jungle Book) piece that was actually adapted from her first ever routine. That Mowgli performance at PSO Gateway is her proudest moment in her pole career. She was originally signed up for the Central Pole Championships, but took a fall that almost broke her neck. “I had to pause and go through physical therapy,” Chelsea says, “and then three months later, Gateway happened.” She took her prepared Mowgli routine to Gateway and took third place. “That was kind of a labor of love,” Chelsea says. “It was a great routine and a lot of fun to do and one hundred percent me.”

Photo by Alloy Images

This year, she’s returning to the Minnesota Pole Competitions at the Land of Lakes Pole Festival to compete at a professional level. “I originally signed up for performance theater, but at this level, we’re judged a little bit differently because we have the goal of going to the Arnold, so I’m trying more on the sport side of things,” Chelsea says. MNPC will be something of a return for Chelsea as she hasn’t been to MNPC for a few years and hasn’t competed regularly since before the pandemic. “This is me bringing all the things I’ve learned and all the ways I’ve grown back to the stage,” Chelsea says.

Although she has no coach for this competition, Chelsea leans on the community at TGR Fitness and the larger pole community to develop her routine. She and her friends have also been helping a younger pole dancer prepare a showcase routine for the LOL stage. “It’s been interesting to be a coach and a student through all of this. I’m really just calling on my friends who also have competition experience to kind of bounce ideas off of because it takes a village,” Chelsea says.

Chelsea is passionate about the community aspect of pole. She loves to connect and celebrate with her classmates, but she also loves the larger community that comes together for performances. Chelsea says, “It’s so cool to meet people from throughout the country and make connections so that when you do travel, you’re able to see some of those friends you made at competitions. I think that’s one thing that people miss out on when they travel is not visiting a pole gym…and making some connections around the country.” Chelsea encourages everyone to join the pole community: “I think people are intimidated by pole dancing because there are these big competitions and there’s these really strong athletes out there that are putting out incredible routines that look impossible, but I think that everybody needs to know that no matter where you come from, you can be successful at pole. You have to maybe reframe what you think success is for you. You just have to enjoy it and as long as you’re enjoying it, you’re successful at pole.”

Photo by Aundrea

Chelsea’s own definition of success for her pole journey is about growing her connections with people and learning new things. “It’s never been about being the best pole dancer ever…There’s so many different strengths in the pole community and I think people forget about that a lot. I’m not planning on being some big bad star or anything; I just want to have fun and do cool tricks.”

You can see Chelsea having fun and doing cool tricks at the Land of Lakes Pole Festival, September 8-10, 2023 and on her Instagram @chelseasnaps.