Archive for Monday, July 28, 2008

Dance revolution: Pole dancing moves into fitness mainstream

Danielle Cash works out on one of eight poles at Pulse Holistic Center in Fresno, Calif.

Danielle Cash works out on one of eight poles at Pulse Holistic Center in Fresno, Calif.

July 28, 2008


Kim Andrews practices a dance routine during her pole-dance fitness class at Pulse Holistic Center in Fresno, Calif.

Kim Andrews practices a dance routine during her pole-dance fitness class at Pulse Holistic Center in Fresno, Calif.

— Danielle Cash's idea of a good workout used to be exercising her right to say, "No thanks." The 28-year-old Fresno, Calif., woman tried Tae-Bo. She tried pilates. She tried doing yoga along with television fitness shows. None of it lasted very long.

"I'm allergic to exercise," she says.

But a couple of months ago, Cash discovered a pole-dancing fitness class at Pulse Holistic Center in Fresno, and life hasn't been the same since. Each week, she attends two classes, spends another hour on a private lesson - and she bought a pole for her home.

"I know. It's silly," she says. But she was hooked from the first class. "It got your heart pumping, and we were working, we were learning things, and it was fun."

Long associated with strip clubs and burlesque shows, pole dancing has moved into the fitness mainstream the past few years, largely on the strength of S Factor, a nationwide studio that has been featured on Oprah Winfrey's talk show.

Maegan Stringfield, an instructor certified by the International Pole Federation, has taught pole-dancing fitness for women at Pulse since November. Demand for the classes is such that they now make up more than half of the center's schedule.

Kendra Glazebrook, another of Stringfield's students, says it's easy to see why.

"Before you know it, the hour-and-a-half is up," the 28-year-old Fresno woman says. "That's the workout for me, the one that I totally forget the time, because I'm having so much fun."

Stringfield says her classes take the drudgery out of exercise.

"People are so done with the blankness of a treadmill," she says. "Women love to have fun and get together. But also they get a great workout at the same time."

Karen Teare, another Pulse pole-dance instructor, says her classes offer a workout for the whole body. They start with stretches that incorporate different disciplines before moving to routines on the pole.

"You are doing squats most of the time and working your abs and arms," she says. "When you get a routine together, you're working everything all at once."

Stringfield says her students range from 18 to 73 years old. Although it's not for women in the latter stages of pregnancy, pretty much anyone who's healthy can participate.

If avid students appear to be drawn to the classes like $1 bills to G-strings, not all women are comfortable with the idea of gyrating, prancing and bending their bodies around a pole.

Instructor Teare says it's a hurdle to overcome for some students.

"Women are told that they're somebody's mom now, or they're somebody's wife now," she says. "I say, 'Forget all that. You're not too old. You're not somebody's mom (in here).' ... Women leave here feeling very good, very strong, very sexy, confident and ready to come back."

It's definitely not a stripper class, says Megan Hopkins, 27, of Hanford, Calif. "I really liked that they say, 'Come as you are.' It doesn't matter your body type. It doesn't matter your strength level. You will build the strength. You will build the confidence."

Though there is no instruction involving the removal of clothes (the barefoot participants often wear yoga outfits), there is a distinctly sensual air to the workouts. The women roll their hips, walk high on the balls of their feet and bend over nearly backward while clinging to the pole.

Students start each class stretching to the sounds of slow guitar instrumentals (think Sia's "Breathe Me") before the workout intensifies along with the music. Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and Britney Spears' "Gimme More" are a couple of favorites.

But a recent Monday night beginners class was no more salacious than a couple hours spent at a dance club. The Pulse climate is much closer to pajama party than singles bar, with lots of giggles, upbeat instruction ("Walk pretty!") and encouragement masquerading as lightly growled catcalls.

Glazebrook had qualms about pole dancing's naughty nature. But in one sense, it appealed to her.

"I was always a tomboy," she says. "I liked climbing trees. I'd climb anything that was around. (I like that) I can cut loose and try to be (feminine) and alluring instead of being a tomboy all the time."

April Andronicous, 23, of Kerman, Calif., says friends and families don't always understand that pole-dancing fitness is playful, not skanky. Or maybe it's just that they don't want to understand.

"Everybody likes to crack jokes, of course - 'Don't forget your stilettos!"' she says. "But it's so much fun, it doesn't even matter."

Cash agrees. Her husband encouraged her to start taking the class, and in return, she's glad to share the experience with him.

"I'm learning some things I can take home to my husband," she says, giggling. "He's very happy about that. (It's all about) strengthening the relationship."


WHY 9 years, 10 months ago

Just proves that deep down every girl wants to grow up to be a stripper.

WHY 9 years, 10 months ago

drclark3 Just to be clear I am all for it. I am so tired of watching girls work out on stationary bikes.

drclark3 9 years, 10 months ago

I'm not sure if I understand the previous comment about some song somebody doesn't like, but it seems as though many may be associating the pole dancing with stripping. I can see why, but the article is about the dancing part only, which would seem to be a legitimate way to get a work out.When the car was made people worried about burgalars being able to get away better. When the train came people worried about changing prices due to increased trade. With the internet the concern is pornography, all of which are fact. However, that does not mean there aren't good uses for new things, and pole aerobics seems like it would help some people get off the couch and out of the chip bag.I don't plan on doing it, but I'm all for it!

beatrice 9 years, 10 months ago

Dance revolution: Pole dancing moves into fitness mainstream ... if you're a hooker! Any form of exercise that encourages people to listen to Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" can't be taken seriously and needs to be shunned. It is one of the ten worst songs, ever!What next, lap dance aerobics?

lianne 9 years, 10 months ago

This could turn into an interesting blog....I did actually hear tonight of a class in KC, MO that some girls I know are going to. They have pole dancing, belly dancing and chair dancing aerobic classes. Hey, you couldn't get bored with this kind of exercise!

Quigly 9 years, 10 months ago

This is the best article yet. a stripper workout. I can;t wait to see all of those centers with the windows on front and 25 women dancing on the pole. NICE. But yet I am sensitive to the plight of the slut. No really I am. I have a open home.... I mean heart for them

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