Jessica Reisert is leaving stereotypes in the dust when it comes to pole and aerial fitness.
The 24-year-old entrepreneur is opening her own aerial fitness studio this summer called The Cheeky Peach, located at 42 S. Ocean Ave. in Patchogue.
The Cheeky Peach will be an inclusive, safe space that blends creativity, fitness, and empowerment.
“Our motto is, ‘A space for every peach because everyone is welcomed here,’” Reisert said. “We’re trying to be as inclusive as possible … men, women, anyone, I don’t care who you are, you just need to be 18 years old and up.”
The Sayville native explained that the studio offers hour-long pole, aerial silks, and lyra classes, where certified instructors teach based on progressions and regressions in each student, with a focus on safety. Additionally, The Cheeky Peach has two bilingual instructors for Latin-themed classes.
“I want to make sure everyone feels represented here,” Reisert said. “We have a diverse staff, which is so exciting for us.”
A passion for pole
Pole dancing always piqued the young businesswoman’s interest and she said as soon as she turned 18, she was ready to give it a try.
“I went to my friend’s sister’s showcase, and I fell in love right after that,” she said. “I took my first class the day after. I bought a pole for my parents’ house the day after that. I was hooked.”
She started out as a student at The Fit Factory in West Babylon, and then participated in a work-study program there.
The Sayville native studied at SUNY Oneonta, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and completed a pre-occupational therapy degree.
While studying in Oneonta, she mentioned she used to teach pole lessons out of her apartment and drove almost 40 minutes to SUNY Delhi once a month to conduct workshops.
“That’s how I spent my weekends, I wouldn’t even go out,” she said. “I should’ve known then that was my passion.”
The COVID lockdown led to a lot of self-reflection for Reisert, spurring her to realize she needed to pursue what she loved.
After some time as a manager at a studio in Ronkonkoma, she decided to start her own business.
“I have been doing this for a couple of years now, I think I’m ready to open my own place,” she said. “I’ve been working underneath these amazing women. How cool is that to have them as my mentors?”
The Fit Factory, which recently moved to Bohemia, holds a special place in Reisert’s heart, she said.
The owner Krystle Montalvo and the rest of the Fit Factory team have been incredibly supportive and helpful toward the The Cheeky Peach, offering old poles and mirrors for Reisert to use, she said.
“That’s the community that it is,” she said. “We don’t compete with each other, we always will share …There’s enough for everyone and a space for everyone.”
The basics and benefits of aerial fitness
Aerial fitness is the umbrella term that encompasses pole fitness, lyra and aerial silks.
Pole fitness is an extension of pole dancing, where the pole is used as a piece of fitness equipment, with the user touching the floor or in the air for tricks.
It is a full-body workout that improves muscle tone, flexibility and coordination, as well as upper body and core strength.
The lyra or aerial hoop is a suspended circular apparatus that allows for a vast range of exercise within or outside of it.
Lyra provides a perfect circle through which to move the body and challenges an individual to find new shapes.
Aerial silks are fabrics attached to the ceiling that allow students to work on their strength and flexibility throughout their entire body.
Reisert and other instructors at The Cheeky Peach describe the feeling of being in the air as pure magic.
Walking into an aerial fitness class for the first time can be intimidating, but Reisert said that is why they have foundational sessions in place.
“At first, it’s terrifying, and that’s totally normal,” Reisert said. “Being scared for your first class, everyone is. We get that and we understand.”
The foundational classes at The Cheeky Peach help students gradually build strength over time, learn terminology, understand spatial awareness and maintain focus on their bodies.
Breaking the stigma
The Cheeky Peach is all about improving self-confidence and making others feel good about themselves.
However, there is a common misconception that some aerial fitness activities are risqué and inappropriate.
“Whoever wants to be here wants to empower themselves, and then we’re sexualized by people who walk by and don’t know what’s going on,” Reisert said. “Our showcases tend to clear that air because it’s more of an art form.”
The reason participants don’t wear a lot of clothing when on the pole is because it requires maximum skin contact, which can be painful but is meant for conditioning the body, Reisert said.
Lyra and aerial silks are typically full coverage because there is a risk of getting burned.
Reisert said when she posts pictures of herself on social media doing a routine, it is not for male attention or validation. According to her Instagram analytics, she said her follower demographic is “99 percent women.”
“The stigma has definitely held me back and there are roadblocks I have to maneuver,” Reisert said. “But I have a really good support system and following, and I’m blessed to have that.”
Kathy Abreu, one of the bilingual instructors at The Cheeky Peach, lost around 100 pounds through aerial fitness classes. She said she hopes to help Hispanic women with their self-expression and connection with their bodies.
“I started aerial fitness when I was at a very low point and I didn’t love myself,” Abreu said. “This has helped me so much to just understand myself better — my wants and passion. You are welcome however you look, whatever language you speak. Come feel sexy.”
Abreu added that she had no idea teaching aerial fitness would “be in the cards” for her.
Opening that door for others is exactly what Reisert hopes to do with The Cheeky Peach.
“I want everyone to experience and try it — to know you need a level of open-mindedness, to come in and leave all judgment at the door,” Reisert said. “Experience just being disconnected from the world a little bit and being with your friends. This community is beautiful and so magical.”
For more information on pricing and how to sign up for a class, check out The Cheeky Peach’s website.
For updates, follow the studio on Instagram @thecheekypeachli.
Feature photo: The Cheeky Peach Owner Jessica Reisert.