Pole Position

By Anna Sachse

Posted October 29, 2009 in Mind Body Spirit

It’s easy for fit chicks to get stuck in an exercise rut. But running on the treadmill at the same speed for three or four miles most days of every week all year long can get really old. The same goes for pumping iron if you always stick to the same tired routine day in and day out. Not only does your workout become ridiculously boring, your muscles gradually adapt to the same stimuli over time, which means your fitness gains may plateau. 


Want to shake things up? Why not literally get shakin‘ by learning how to dance like a stripper? It’s different, it’s sexy, it’s confidence-building and it’s a damn good workout. Although both movies seriously sucked, nobody can argue with how physically fit Demi Moore was in Striptease or Elizabeth Berkley was in Showgirls. (Who knows if they also did piles of blow like regular strippers occasionally do to stay thin, stay awake all night and forget that they have to get naked in front of bottom-feeders for a living?) 


Stripper-style dancing as a workout for the masses has actually been around for most of this decade, popping up in private studios or in the aerobics rooms of mainstream gyms (Crunch gyms offer “Pole Dancing,” “Strip Bar” and “Turning Tricks”). Many credit its popularity to the “S Factor” program created by actress Sheila Kelley in 2001, after she got mad-fit preparing for her role as a stripper in Dancing at the Blue Iguana. Drawing on aspects of yoga, ballet and exotic dancing, S Factor helps elongate muscles, increases flexibility and seriously tones arms, abs, butts and legs. The goal is also for women to gain confidence, own their sexuality and learn to love their feminine body no matter the shape, weight or age of it. Kate Hudson, Teri Hatcher and Oprah are fans.


Adventurous ladies who’d like to give it a whirl (and a bump and grind) can find out more at www.sfactor.com. Classes are offered in Costa Mesa and L.A., or you can use the DVD program or read Kelley’s instructional book at home. Want a taste test? Here’s how to do one of her signature floor moves that really works your abs and butt, the Bridge Grind: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet slightly wider than hip-width. Slowly lift your hips and push toward ceiling, rolling up spine until body weight is on shoulder blades. Slowly draw a large circle with hips to the right and down until almost touching floor, then to the left and back up. Do five reps in each direction.


Another option for sassy chicks who dig the idea of working out in stilettos and short-shorts is the “From Mind to Body” (www.frommindtobody.com) Pole Fitness program. Although it was created by professional dance instructor Edith Aboul-hosn and is also centered on personal empowerment, this program is a lot more stripper-y than S Factor. Fourteen studios in California (the Riverside studio is inside City Gym on University Avenue), Nevada, Arizona and New York offer classes like Pole Dance, Lap Dance, Sexy Chair, Strip Tease, Wall Exotic Dance and Burlesque Dance. In the advanced level Pole Dance classes, you will learn how to do inverted spins, one legged hooks, create momentum upside down and hold your entire body up on the pole only using leg muscles and grips. This is not easy. From Mind to Body also offers private classes, DVD programs, iPhone apps, stripper-esque stilettos and at-home stripper poles (from $150 to about $380). 


Your boyfriend/husband may not be able to get in on the workout action himself, but I’m willing to bet the “action” he’ll get after you start taking classes will certainly make it worth his while.


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