Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pole Dancing Moves Into Fitness Mainstream

“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 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. ‘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.”

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