Stripper Pole Aerobics

Posted: September 14, 2008 in Health, Tacky

Riding the Chicago L last week, I noticed an advertisement for the fitness and health club Crunch, which offers, of all things, aerobics classes based on using stripper poles. The ad depicted two women hanging upside-down from stripper poles. While the women were wearing workout clothes, they also wore stilettos. You know the kind: impossibly high heels and platforms that are useless for walking (and working out) but practically scream “fuck me!” My guess is that those shoes were for the photo but aren’t used much in the class. They’re just impractical.

Poking around a bit, I learned that Crunch offers several other sexed-up “dance” classes and that they have been in existence for some years already, though perhaps not yet long enough to create the trend or sensation one might expect. Here are some of the descriptions (free advertising for Crunch):

“Dream Girls” — Dreams live forever in this dance class inspired by the upcoming feature film Dream Girls, starring Beyonce, Jaime Foxx, and Eddie Murphy. Become your own shining star by learning Motown-inspired dance routines from the movie.

Boa Burlesque — Use a boa as your prop, as you learn a sexy new burlesque dance routine each week.

Dirty Dancing — Learn choreography from this classic movie that’s now a hit on the Chicago stage. Cast members from the show will be stopping by to teach you the moves you need to become the next Johnny and Baby.

Go–Go — Grab your white go-go boots and prance like the Pussycat Dolls in this super sexy/cute dance class inspired by the mod swingers of the 60’s. Learn to shake, pop, and twerk in this hot calorie-blasting hour.

Pole Dancing — The dancer’s pole isn’t just for professionals anymore. This challenging and sexy class combines intense upper body and core strength, coordination, and balance to turn even the shyest performers into toned and sultry vixens.

Stiletto Strength — Bring Your Own Heels and strut your stuff runway style in this calf-boosting, posture-building, cat-walking diva class.

Strip Bar — Welcome to the happy hour of sexy, hot cardio. This class takes Striptease to the next level with the body bar as your prop. Oh yeah, we’ll make you sweat.

Turning Tricks — We should pay YOU for this class that mixes the swinging and spinning of advanced Pole Dancing with the hottest Strip Bar choreography.

I’m sure one can get an indecent a good workout while adding in-your-face sexual context. After all, many health clubs are pretty straightforward meat markets. And there is certainly no lack of patrons and staff who quite enjoy preening before the mirrors and being ogled by others. I suppose if folks get a kick out of being teased and toyed with, which keeps them coming back, then perhaps sexy dance classes work better as motivation than more prosaic weight, yoga, step, and spin classes.

However, I’m still a little appalled that Crunch offers so many variations on the theme of sexy dancing. Although classes may be unisex, they appear to be directed specifically to women. Maybe it’s all good, clean fun, but aren’t such overt displays of one’s sexuality anathema to feminism’s attempts to retrain men not to objectify women and to retrain women not to offer themselves so willingly for that objectification (except perhaps in private, as opposed to a public dance class)? It’s commonplace these days to adopt the language or behavior of the oppressor to empower oneself, but uninhibited sexual expression can be like a minefield, provoking undesired responses.

It’s fair to say that we don’t really know much about healthy sexuality in the U.S. We’re all mixed up about it, considering our Puritan roots and prudery compared to much of the rest of the globe. Add an omnipresent hypersexuality to things, and the mixed message is just plain bizarre.

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