If you're a freshman, you might have heard the name "Katalicious Def." The real-life person behind this freshman propelled to minor celebrity by Facebook is Katherine J. Zhou '15, who has made a bit of a splash thanks to her unusual hobby: she pole dances.
Zhou confidently shoos off stereotypes of pole dancers as risque entertainers. For her, the pursuit is all about exercise and fun.
The hobby first took root at a summer camp, where a fellow camper dared her to dance around a pole. Zhou recalled, "I found myself interested in it, so I went to the playground and did tricks on the fireman poles and started teaching myself tricks."
When a friend gave her a voucher for free classes at Boston Pole Fitness, she seized the opportunity. Now she takes the T to the studio to practice, two to five days every week.
"I tell people I pole dance and have to explain that I am not a stripper. My goal is to spread the word of pole fitness being a legitimate exercise form," Zhou said.
She added that she first tried break dancing, but she could not perform many of the moves and disliked the male-dominated atmosphere.
Pole dancing, she said, "makes me feel better about the way my body looks." She explained that pole dancers must wear skimpy attire because they "need skin friction."
Since she took up the hobby, she said, she has started wearing more revealing clothing outside of the gym too. "That's what I feel comfortable in," she said.
On her Facebook page, which hosts a reel of photos of her impressively athletic moves, Zhou goes by the name "Katalicious Def (GET NAKED BITCH)."
She explained the provocative profile: "My parents didn't let me have a Facebook. They would actually do searches, and I had to choose a name they wouldn't think of."
Zhou, a possible computer science concentrator who terms herself "a huge nerd," was quick to note that her hobbies range far beyond pole dancing, from Pokemon to photo manipulation.
Pole dancing, she said, is just one more activity that makes her feel good about herself.