Monday, June 14, 2010

3 Things I Learned at a Pole Dancing Class

Saturday night, seven of my girlfriends (who prefer to remain anonymous) and I headed to the S-Factor in Chicago to try a new type of workout, pole dancing. None of us had ever danced with a pole before (well, I once wound streamers around a May pole in 2nd grade, but that doesn't count) and we were a bit nervous.

The common view of pole dancing is that it's slutty and sleazy and only performed for the pleasure of lecherous, drooling, dollar bill wielding men. We were a group of middle-aged, married moms with jobs and responsibilities; not exactly the exotic dancer type.

But still, we were curious. It sounded kind of naughty. And fun.

My 16 year-old son, Nick, learned about my plan and was appalled. He texted his buddy.

"Do you know our moms are going pole dancing?"

His friend texted back immediately.

"That makes me very uncomfortable."

We moms were uncomfortable too, especially at the idea of trying to look sultry and sensual in front of one another. Our husbands, however, were surprisingly accommodating. They happily volunteered to run carpools, make dinner, take the cat to the vet. "I got it covered, hon, you go on and have fun at that dance class."

I'm writing about the experience for Make it Better Magazine, so I'll have to wait to give you the full scoop until after the article is published. But as a preview, here are three things I learned  from my first pole dancing class.

1. It's not about how you look, it's how you feel
The studio was dimly lit, and get this, had NO mirrors. Imagine our relief! Julie, our instructor, told us that we shouldn't be concerned with how we looked or doing any movement "correctly." We should consider the room a safe place to just let go and have fun and feel good about ourselves.

2. Curves are captivating
In other fitness classes I've taken, I felt that fleshiness was shameful - a problem that needed fixing. But at S-Factor, the goal is for women to appreciate and enjoy their bodies as they are, not change them. Julie was gorgeous and sexy, but not skinny. She had boobs and a butt and man, could she flaunt 'em. When demonstrating the "cat pounce" she  arched her back while pointing her tush at the ceiling. As I tried to follow along, for the first time in my life, I wished for a bigger ass.

3. Get in touch with yourself
Throughout the class Julie urged us to "put your hands on your curves." Apparently, for a woman to be truly sexy she must know and own her body; to do that, she needs to be in contact with it. Touching ourselves - whether running a hand through our hair or massaging a knee - became part of the movements.

I felt awkward at first; it was certainly different than the pumping or punching arm moves that we're asked to do in aerobic or weight lifting classes. But as you can see from the pic above, I was feeling pretty comfortable in my own skin by the time class was over.

I'll write more about this later this summer. But if you don't feel like waiting, try a pole dancing class for yourself. It'll make you think about yourself in a whole new way.

And just for laughs, watch actress Sheila Kelley, the founder of the S-Factor, teach Conan O'Brien some seductive moves by clicking here.

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