Strippers lose grip on pole, fitness fans swing in

   Strippers lose grip on pole,

fitness fans swing in 


CHICAGO, March 24 — No corsets. No pasties. No thongs. No garters. And absolutely no nudity.

Can this really be the future of pole dancing?

The provocative, shaft-straddling burlesque technique popularised by Hollywood movies like “The Wrestler” and TV shows like “Desperate Housewives” is shedding its seedy image and making a play for respectability thanks to a new kind of dancer, drawn to the pole by the athleticism it requires as much as the sex appeal it exudes.

Some, like Porscha Williams, a 22-year-old college student in Chicago, simply see pole dancing as a new form of exercise, a way to make fitness fun but still challenging.

“I’m getting a lot of cardio and a lot of upper body strength from pole,” she said on a recent evening after a workout at a studio called Flirty Girl Fitness.

But others are embracing pole dancing, whose roots reach back to a traditional Indian form of agility training known as Mallakhamb, as a competitive sport that is headed for amateur athletics’ big time.

“I would love to see this in the Olympics, that would be such a breakthrough for this sport,” says Anna Grundstrom, a co-founder of the US Pole Dance Federation.

“But we have a lot of work to do before we get there.”

Earlier this month, the federation held its first-ever pole dance championship in New York City.

The judges were professional dancers and choreographers, not a leering peanut gallery recruited from a nearby gentleman’s club.

Only two things remained of the sport’s striptease roots: the suggestive songs playing in the background and the 20cm, stilleto-heeled pumps on the dancers.

The latter is a holdover Grundstrom happily defends. Ballerinas, she says, have pointe shoes, pole dancers have come-hither pumps. What’s more, they make things harder and more competitive and give the sport a certain frisson lacking in other sports.

“We’re not trying to take the sexuality out of this sport,” Grundstrom says. “You know, we’re not trying to make it gymnastics on a vertical pole. It’s still a sensual art form. I know people associate heels with stripping. But we don’t take our clothes off.”

On a recent evening at Flirty Girl Fitness, a women-only studio in Chicago’s trendy West Loop neighbourhood, Rebecca Lee, a trim but quite pregnant 35-year-old trainer, put a dozen or so young and barefooted women through their pole paces.

The studio’s pole dancing classes are among its most popular, Lee says. But while the raciness pulls them in, it’s the quality of the workout that keeps them coming back.

“I give props to the real exotic dancers,” Lee says. “They started this art form and I don’t know how they do it. In heels? With alcohol? I just don’t know.”

Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist at the American Council of Exercise, and a believer in the benefits of pole dancing, says Lee and others are right: The sport, no matter what its Olympic chances, is a great way to exercise.

“It’s very strenuous,” Comana said, “a combination of aerobic and anaerobic depending upon what you’re doing. Calorie wise, it’s a good workout. It’s as effective as 20 to 25 minutes on a treadmill.” — Reuters


   Strippers lose grip on pole, fitness fans swing in The Malaysian Insider

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: