Far From the Same Old Grind: Pole Dancing Classes Get You in Shape, Unleash the Tigress Within
Jun. 6–Throughout history, erotic dancers have exuded a mystique, as if their tease held the secret to good sex.
That secret may be out.
At studios from Los Angeles to Miami, the strip tease is being taught in exercise classes to everyday housewives, mothers and grandmothers. Hundreds of women are signing up for the so-called “fertility goddess” classes, with one North Miami Beach studio saying it teaches between 300 and 400 women a week.
The women’s aim: to get in shape, arouse the desire from within and wow their loved ones with their newfound erotic aura.
“I feel so much more comfortable with my body. You feel sexy and proud to be a woman,” says Sarah Oswald, 27, a dedicated pole dancing student.
“Let me just say this, if you’re in a relationship and you don’t want to have children, [then] get on birth control, because you’re going to become very confident,” says Susan Hilferty, 38, owner of the recently opened Pole Fitness studio in Coconut Grove. “I’m just bringing the animal out of you.”
The tigresses have long been pussycats, thanks to the demands of work, stress and parenthood.
“The first thing that goes when you become a mother is your sense of self,” says Susie Taylor, 32, a pole dance instructor. “Something we love to say is that you have to nurture yourself so you can nurture others. As women, we sacrifice ourselves and we’re taught that it’s acceptable.”
Local real estate agent Larc Abrahams, 35, mother of two, is among the women who put down the “to-do” list for two hours a week to rediscover confidence and sexuality by swinging from an 11 1/2-foot pole.
“Let me tell you, flexibility and being limber is definitely a plus when you have an 8-year-old and a 1 1/2-year-old, and they’re running in all directions,” Abrahams says, laughing.
The pop culture machine has picked up on the trend:
— On TV: Desperate Housewives’ Teri Hatcher showed off some pole-dancing moves on Oprah and so did comedian Kevin James on The King of Queens.
— The Internet: Numerous websites sell poles for at-home installation.
— Videos: Sex symbol Carmen Electra shows audiences at home how to lap dance and more through the five volumes of her strip aerobics video collection, Carmen Electra’s Aerobic Striptease Collection.
— Books, T-shirts and workshops: Sheila Kelly, author of The S Factor, owns seven studios from Orange County to New York and tours the country, giving workshops from Houston to The Hamptons. Her website sells T-shirts, G-strings and hot shorts.
The concept — self-discovery through a dance synonymous with strippers and sweaty, crumpled dollar bills — is a turnoff to some skeptics.
“I’ve seen the ads for it,” says Sandra Rodriguez, 33. “These women are acting like strippers. How is that going to make them feel better about themselves?”
Rodriguez says she’ll stick to jogging and weight training to keep in shape, thank you. But supporters of the sexy classes say the students are getting emotional rewards, as well as physical ones.
“It’s a sexy, sensual playground for women only, where you can stop apologizing,” says an instructor, and shows how to bounce up and down on her knees with pelvis thrust forward to show the women a move called The Cowgirl. The women laugh, swing their arms in the air as if whipping around a lasso — strengthening their quadriceps in the process.
First-timer Megan Martinez, 21, peeked cautiously out of one eye — many women pole dance with their eyes closed to internalize the movements — before gingerly extending her arm into full rope swings.
Martinez has mastered The Bad Kitty, a floor move in which a woman starts on all fours, slinks down with her head turned to the side and, once her chest reaches the floor, slides forward with butt firmly in the air. It’s quite a workout.
“If you’re in a room with men, there’s no way that you can deal with your sexuality,” Taylor says. “This is one time in your life that it’s not about a guy judging you.”
Besides, where else can a group of ladies comfortably stretch out their legs and shout, “Hello, crotch?”
Copyright (c) 2006, The Miami Herald