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Five brave souls join Iron Matron's adventures

Five brave souls join our Iron Matron in new adventures

As an ice-breaker, pole dancing would not be on the top of my list. For the six of us strangers embarking on the Iron Matron's next adventures, a much more sane plan would be a meet-and-greet over a few glasses of wine at a cosy neighbourhood pub, or a doughnut and coffee confab at Tim Hortons. But then, who said we were sane?

It seems our first get-together will be dancing around a pole, and none of us has a clue what that entails. Neither, indeed, does anyone else, given the two-cents' worth thrown in by so-called friends, relatives (including one concerned mother), and snickering co-workers.

Together, we are going to spend the next few weeks trying out five activities, with guidance from the folks at Victoria Parks and Recreation.

The five women willing to hang in there with me and face possible embarrassment, not to mention being disowned by teenage children, have sent along the following tidbits of their bios.

Deborah Carnes

Besides being a poet -- "Perhaps water yoga's our game/Or flyfishing might get us fame" -- Carnes has done plenty, but none of the above. Raised in Montreal, she got an English degree and an MBA in marketing that led to a career with CP Rail and a petrochemical company in Calgary. Along with husband Ken and three kids, Carnes lived in Australia for six years, before moving to Victoria in 2003. Carnes, 54, works at the Citizen's Counselling Centre when she's not writing poems to Iron Matrons. Carnes's family thinks the whole thing is "quite odd," but she's looking forward to being with other people quirky enough to do something like this.

Sandy Campbell

Now that Campbell, 55, has retired from three decades as a liquor store employee, she is on the hunt to find her true self. Whether that's being a pole dancer remains to be seen. Her talent might even be water yoga, despite the fact she doesn't do bathing suits. Campbell, who's married to Colin and just had a "huge" wedding in the yard for daughter Erin, started life in Sidney and now lives in Brentwood. She said anything past Royal Oak is a bit beyond her comfort zone, but has decided it's time to get out in the world. Campbell golfs and does aerobics now, but has never tried much else. As a kid, she attended private school where they marched through catechism instead of PE.

Jo-Anne Kern

Kern, 56, grew up all over B.C. while her dad worked in pulp mills, and moved to Victoria four months before graduation from Vic High (so much for knowing anybody at reunions). After she began her working life at the B.C. legislature, she upgraded at the University of Victoria and Royal Roads, then spent a decade with the ombudsman's office, before returning to the legislature as director of Hansard services. Kern has four kids and a baby granddaughter, but hasn't been doing a whole lot for fun and fitness since husband Bryan became wheelchair-bound with multiple sclerosis. Bryan, by the way, is anticipating a pole-dancing demo in the near future.

Sue Emslie

Before Emslie is finished, the Crystal Pool will probably have had a complete makeover. Emslie and husband Bob were the "ultimate yuppies," selling everything they owned to move from Vancouver (she was pregnant at the time) to create Victoria Specialty Hardware in Oak Bay. Long hours don't stop the couple, and their 13-year-old daughter, from fixing up everything in sight, even when they aren't at the store. Emslie, 52, grew up on a farm in England, lived in Germany for three years, and worked in the airline industry. Now she has decided flyfishing would a be heck of a lot more fun than re-tiling the shower.

Fran Harper

Harper said this venture is completely out of character for her -- which is probably why the reaction of her two kids ranged from a grimace to hysterical laughter. For some reason, however, Harper didn't think twice about throwing her lot in with the Iron Matron, and husband Jack was all for it.

A 54-year-old policy adviser with the ministry of small business and revenue, Harper is a born and bred Vancouver Islander, who grew up overlooking the water near Cowichan at Cherry Point. She spends most of her spare time in the garden growing flowers, and decided it was time to put down the pruners and try spontaneity for a change. "Something just felt right," she thought. "Why don't I just go for it."

Going for it is exactly what we're about to do, wrinkles and all. Coming soon to the TC pages near you: Pole dancing, fly fishing, pole walking, water yoga and 50-plus boot camp. Watch for the first instalment Nov. 5.