GoRecess Spotlight: Natasha Bajic of Brass Ovaries; Austin, TX
Name: Natasha Bajic, Owner Brass Ovaries
About Natasha: Natasha Bajic is a decorated Army veteran who has gone above and beyond her pole studio’s controversial name. Not only was she was the first female to complete special forces training, but she has also hiked the Appalachian Trail, taken up sky diving as a hobby, explored war torn areas, and even survived a fall from a Black Hawk helicopter. Natasha is also the first pole instructor to teach with the accompaniment of her service animal Amigo.
Under Natasha's guidance, Brass Ovaries has developed into one of the best pole training facilities in the nation, and Natasha has received numerous awards and recognition for her invaluable contribution to the fitness industry. Natasha supplements her understanding of physical fitness with a degree in neuroscience, and a strong focus in anthropology and psychology. Her years spent studying the human brain helped shape her personal approach to pole dance, which she dubs “releasing your inner monkey”.
You have an incredible background. You were the first female to complete Special Forces training. You’re also a neurobiologist. Talk about brains and brawn! Tell us more! How did you transition into pole dancing?
Since I was a kid I felt like a monkey. I wasn’t happy unless I was climbing, swinging, or playing around on an object. It didn’t matter what the object was; playground equipment, trees, buildings, rocks.... you name it. If it was climbable you can bet that I was on top of it. Now fast forward to adulthood. A big part of what I identified with was no longer socially acceptable. I mean when is the last time you saw an adult up in a tree? Or a pack of university students brachiating like gibbons across monkey bars? Not very often huh? This was such a sad human realization that I had come to but as a society we don’t get to monkey around as adults.
Instead of settling, I chose to nurture my inner monkey no matter how ridiculous it made me look as an adult. So I continued to climb trees, buildings and playground equipment. I found that I favored physical labor that challenged both my body and mind. It only seemed natural that I would take up rock climbing as a hobby. The military helped fulfill the labor portion. I got degree in anthropology to mentally understand monkeys and why I felt like one. I was always on the look out for new ways to release my inner monkey. And then one day I saw the world famous Mercy Killings do a performance on a pole. Her display was an amazing show of strength and control that demonstrated the amount of skill she had. I tracked her down after her performance and immediately signed up for a private lesson. After my first class I was completely hooked! I attacked everything that remotely looked like a pole. And here I am today 8 years later living the pole dream.
What makes pole dancing such a great workout? People don’t realize it but we are monkeys. Our genetic makeup came from our distant relatives, the australopithecines, who left us with useful primate traits. We are meant to be climbing stuff, eating fruit and facilitating bipedal locomotion. Instead we huddle in cubicles, look downward at our pdas and consume high fructose corn syrup. Swinging around a pole engages that inner monkey by making use of our atypical padding, the startle reflex and a high brachial index. A typical workout burns an average of 400-700 calories per hour. It tones your entire body by combining pole spines, climbs and continual movement that creates a total body firming, strengthening and empowering workout. Pole is a type of “survival fitness”... if you don’t use all of your monkey skills to hold on to the pole you may fly off. So you use your full strength each and every time to hold on.
Something like pole can be very scary to beginners. Sometimes people talk themselves out of it. They tend to say things like “I will take pole up when I am strong enough” or “I am not fit/sexy/tall/skinny/tan enough”. These are just stop signs people put up for themselves. Brass Ovaries helps by destroying those stop signs. Pole is an equal opportunity butt kicker. I have taught a wide range of students over the years to include 8 year old boys, 64 year old men, olympic athletes, and everyone in between. No one on earth is fit enough for the pole. The only way to get fit enough is to be on the pole. So for beginners I would recommend not to wear lotion, leave your concerns at the door, have fun, point your toes and smile.
Why has Brass Ovaries been called called “Austin’s weirdest form of Fitness”? What makes it unique?
Brass Ovaries has done a lot to “Keep Austin Weird”. Our name for one. It’s such an empowering visual when you say “Brass Ovaries”... plus people’s reactions are funny upon seeing our logo for the first time or tele-marketers have a good giggle when they are calling. Our internationally known studio is unique in the fact that it is open to all women, men and trans-identified persons, no matter your age, shape, and size or fitness levels. We offer world class training to all of Austin’s monkeys.
It is a very strong stereotype that is diminishing as the sport becomes more socially acceptable. From a studio owner’s stand point I run into the stigma a lot. I found that it was especially difficult when trying to open my studio in Austin of all places! But I am glad I did! Brass Ovaries is the entire reason Austin has any pole studios at all. When I was starting out I assumed that Austin was such a laid back physically active city that opening a pole studio would be no problem. Yet the major thought that comes to people’s minds is that poles=strippers. This actually made it very hard to rent commercial property, obtain basic business insurance, access funding, or get the yellow pages to take my business information out of the adult services section. I got many strange late night calls because of that last one. I was so fed up with the city’s misguided idea of what Brass Ovaries and pole dancing was about that I got a small group of my students and started performing around town. I wanted to show people that it was so much more and with a portable pole I could bring the performance anywhere.... and not just the confines of a gentleman’s club. Over time Brass Ovaries got a strong following which helped a lot in shaping the city’s attitude towards being a monkey.
Now the funny part is sometimes people can make it seem that evil dirty women have been using the pole to knock apples out of trees since the garden of Eden. It actually did not make it into the gentleman’s club until the 80’s when it crossed over from Canada... so technically the hair band Poison is older than pole dancing’s history in the United States. Swinging around on a pole is actually a male dominated sport...it started around the 16th century in India with a sport that is still practiced present day called Mallakhamb. Traditionally Chinese pole artists that you see in Cirque Du Soleil are all male. And male performers like Dima Shine are showing the world their gymnastic feats on a pole. So it isn’t really fair to confine all of the pole fun and stigma to women.
What is Aerial Hoop dancing? Do you recommend students perfect traditional pole dancing first? The aerial hoop (also known as the lyra, aerial ring or cerceau) is a circular metal apparatus (resembling a hula hoop) suspended from the ceiling, on which aerial artists may perform acrobatics. It can be used static, spinning, or swinging. It's just another tool to monkey around on. You don’t have to master one to do the other. I would suggest students to try both regardless of their skill level.
Any guilty pleasures? Cheese is my weakness
Take a Brass Ovaries class for a spin here!