An Eastbourne mother-of-three who was told she would never walk again is competing in a national pole fitness competition.
Charlene Hoad, from Old Town, will travel to Torquay for the sold-out English Riviera Pole Championship on November 16 to compete in the professional category against five other dancers from around the UK.
The 31-year-old said, “I just love it. If I’m not in the studio I’m in the gym training or being a mum.
“I’m not going there to win, I just love being on stage and performing. It’s my passion.”
Charlene, who trains and instructs at Active Cherry Studios in Westham, said she will be judged on her costume, moves, choreography, music choice, strength, tricks, flexibility and overall performance.
The part-time make-up artist said she is training three or four times a week and spoke about her routine for the competition. She said, “I’ll be doing a bit of floor work, lots of wavy legs, splits and rolls.”
Charlene said she always wanted to be a dancer since she was young but at the age of 16 she had a moped accident and was told by doctors she would never walk again.
“I was on the back of a moped and we ploughed into a car, I split my Achilles, was bleeding from my head and couldn’t walk for six months,” she said.
Charlene recovered and, after giving birth to her first child four years ago, she decided to get back into dancing and opted for pole fitness.
“After having my children I decided I wanted to do something,” she said, “I found this and never looked back. It’s therapy for me.
“When I started I had no flexibility but after lots of training I am one of the most flexible here.
“My children love it. And they’re always proud of mummy. My son climbs up the pole like a chimp.”
Kat Urquhart, Active Cherry pole instructor, said, “We are massively proud of her. She has worked so hard getting together a routine, the music and the dancing, it’s really difficult to do but she has absolutely smashed it and we obviously want her to win.”
Michelle Szpak, Active Cherry pole instructor, said, “She is fabulous and so hard-working. She’s really inspirational for a lot of our students who are working mums.
Active Cherry Studios run private and group sessions for all ages. Kat and Michelle said, “The studio is a place people come to be happy and get a little bit of sanctuary. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”