Interview with Jessica Marsh: Competition Judge and Coach

Apr 10, 2024

by Sara Schreiber

In nine years, Jessica Marsh went from reluctant beginner poler to developing a pole competitor course and judging professional pole competitions. In middle school and high school, she trained in ballet, but was told that she was too “big” to be a ballerina. With few options in dance at the time, she began to study in contemporary dance, but that style just didn’t suit her. “To be honest,” says Jessica, “I was a bit scared. The dance world is all I knew, and I didn’t want to give it up.” She began looking for something new to light her up and she found silks. “I was always interested in one day running away with the circus, so why not learn silks?” Jessica says.

The studio where she signed up for silks also had pole classes and when her silks instructor left, the studio owner invited Jessica to try a pole class. “At first, I was a bit hesitant to try it,” Jessica says, “but the pole instructor finally convinced me to take a class and I absolutely fell in love with it. In my very first private pole lesson, I wanted to learn the Russian Split…boy, did I have a lot to learn.”

Photo by Peter Yeung Photography

And learn she did. She signed up for her first competition not long after starting pole and placed third. Inspired by her years of experience teaching other types of dance, she obtained her XPERT pole certification and started teaching beginner pole. Jessica finds immense joy in bringing to her students everything that pole has given her. “When I initially started pole,” Jessica says, “I had a pretty severe eating disorder, and pole helped me fall in love with myself again. It taught me to truly appreciate my body for all the epic stuff it can do rather than focus on what it looks like. Pole has helped me feel more empowered and confident!” She sees that same growth in her students now. She says, “It is incredible to watch a student achieve a pole move, that they once thought was impossible to do, but they kept trying and trying and get it….I love watching all my students break out of their shells, build their confidence, and leave each class feeling empowered.”

Photo by LymanDVM Photography

Now, she is leveling up her contributions to polers through her Pole Competition Course. This course includes 8 modules, 33 lessons, 23 resources, as well as group check-ins via Zoom and access to a private competitor community where Jessica is available for questions. It’s a comprehensive course to help brand new and experienced competitors prepare for competition. Jessica says, “Being competition-ready means more than just having great technique. There’s a science to choosing where you compete, creating your costume, choosing the perfect song, and developing your routine. Everything has to flow together, and you have to be mentally prepared.” One of the modules in the course focuses on mindset because Jessica has found a positive mindset to be the most challenging aspect of pole training. Although she is not a sports psychologist, she has worked with one and has taken some university courses in the field. Jessica says, “I wanted to take all the tools I learnt that helped me and give them to you. That way you can use these tools to help keep a positive mindset throughout your training and even after the competitions, no matter the outcome.”

Photo by LymanDVM Photography

Jessica has competed from the very beginning in her pole career and loves the challenge of training and refining involved in competition. Most recently she won the Canadian Pole and Aerial Championship professional division two years in a row. Jessica has brought her knowledge to the judging panel for some PSO competitions and now she’s bringing it to the Land of Lakes Pole Festival and the US Pole Championship as a judge and the judge manager. Jessica says, “When Angie reached out to me to be a part of this competition, I jumped at the idea. I am so honored to be a part of this competition.”

You can find Jessica Marsh on Instagram @marsh_jess and YouTube @jessicamarshpole, and her Pole Competition Course is available at