The art of striptease and pole dancing as an alternative exercise form is certainly not a new idea. After all, sex is considered exercise, and what better way to burn calories and hone your skills in the bedroom with a combination of both. And with popular workout DVDs like Sheila Kelley's "S Factor" and Carmen Electra's "Aerobic Striptease," exercise movements, such as the Chicago-based Flirty Girl Fitness, and even local gyms offer everything from pole instruction to lap dancing, there's no shortage of opportunities for moms to trim their ass while shaking it.
And now, metro Atlanta moms can join in the fun at Tips or Taps, a new erotic dance and exercise studio located about 30 minutes Northeast of Atlanta in suburban Kennesaw. Nestled in a quiet trip mall near the Town Center, a popular local shopping destination, Tips or Taps offers a variety of options for the curious beginner or seasoned expert. Owner Molly Hopkins was prompted to open the studio by many of her friends and customers at her local lingerie shop, Livi Rae, who were interested in this sort of exercise program but didn't want to make the drive into the city.
The studio was easy to find, though smartly tucked away from the road and shopper traffic. Even so, the windows were carefully adorned with dark curtains to keep onlookers hoping for a free show at bay. The decor is inviting and subtle, or as subtle as hot pink and black walls, four poles, and a few racks of lingerie and platform high heels can be. It's certainly sexy, perhaps even raunchy, but without the burning desire to keep your shoes on, wash your hands, and bathe in disinfectant.
The warmth of Hopkins' welcome in her adorable Southern accent, along with the friendly encouragement from the teachers (and moms themselves) Tori and "Nine" offset the wickedly cold dance studio, most likely due to our early morning class and not because poles or nipples must be kept at a certain temperature.
Not surprisingly, we weren't complaining about the cold after a few stretches coordinated to the upbeat music blaring from the sound system.
The beginner pole dancing class is part of an 8-week series that teaches students the basics of pole work. Light in cardio, but heavy in upper arm and core strength, the class is aimed at helping you master various pole tricks, including walks, spins, and other moves that I'm pretty sure I didn't think were humanly possible.
The workout itself is not blatantly sexy or erotic, as participants are required to wear socks and not high heels and spend most of their time trying not look like a demented firefighter or in my case, a scared shi-less kid just trying to make it down the pole without falling off. I'm guessing that after a few weeks of practice and instruction, you'll be able to combine your mastery of the moves with a bit of sensuality.
But this is to say that it's much harder than it looks. Or really, it's much harder to make it look sexy.
I was hoping my ballet background would afford me some advantage. And for the first two moves, which were basic sexy walks and light on-the-floor spins, it did. But after that, I was left at the mercy of my extremely weak upper body, sweaty palms, and fear of heights, all of which made many of the moves ultra-challenging. Granted, it's not like you're hanging upside down at the top of a 6-foot-pole on your first day, but the idea of jumping a good 3 feet off the ground and suspending yourself with only your inner thighs and arm strength can be intimidating. It's a credit to instructors Tori and "Nine," who were extremely encouraging and positive throughout the entire class, even when I'm pretty sure I looked like a roast pig hanging from a barbeque.
Granted, the instructors reminded us that most erotic dancers do not, in fact, do any of these moves, even the basic spins and tricks we were learning. And while I don't see myself attempting a local amateur night (as they kindly suggested), I will say that it did make me feel better when I found myself getting a little frustrated.
The various moves are presented based on difficulty (easy ones first, obviously), with each being demonstrated by the instructors and then taught to the group with individual support and assistance when needed. When most of the class was able to complete a move, we'd try something else -- another spin, trick, or combination of both to work on fluidity.
Or, if you were me, you'd just try to complete a move without sliding down the pole like you're headed out for an emergency 911 call.
To combat the sweaty palms, an issue that hinders many pole entertaining wannabes, we'd intermittently spray the pole and our hands with alcohol -- a technique that is used to keep from sliding or slipping. Additionally, we were instructed to actually rub the pole, alternating with rubbing our palms on our thighs or shorts to keep them dry.
Alas, it seems as though the more I rubbed, the sweatier they got, which was pretty darn frustrating.
Good thing there's another line of work for gals in my situation. VIP Room, anyone?
This particular class targets upper body muscles, all of which are used to keep you upright, balanced, and attached to the pole; the stronger your upper body, the more control you'll have during the spins and various moves. Even two days after the class, I'm still sorer than I've ever been doing any sort of upper body weight program. You will also suffer a series of bruises, which are apparently par for the course. I'm sporting fist size bruises on my inner thighs, and smaller but still sizable ones on both my hips and knees.
Aside from the sore body and countless bruises, I have a newly found respect for pole entertainers (not dancers, do not call them dancers), as it was made quite apparent to me that not just any woman with a set of tits and sense of rhythm can perform, and better, make it look effortless and sexual. But I was always pleasantly surprised that even a pretty tall and lanky mom of three with the arm muscles of a 7-year-old chess club captain could hold her own as well.
And while I'll definitely be sticking to my day job, I'm already trying to figure out when I'm going to take my next class -- this time with leather gloves to combat the sweaty palms and some sort of padded suit so I don't look like I got in a fight at the grocery store.
To take a sample class, join an existing class series, or schedule a mom's night out party, visit Tips or Taps. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
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