Work the pole to a better bod


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Pole dancing has made its way from strip club to sports club and has become a popular way for such celebrities as Teri Hatcher, Blake Lively and Kate Hudson to get in shape. But it’s not just the celebrities taking a spin around the pole, studios are popping up all over the country. And for good reason. Pole dancing can give you a stronger upper body, strengthen your core, tone your legs and butt, and improve flexibility. Not to mention build self-confidence and esteem.

The benefits and difficulties of this exercise have become so recognized that there is a petition circulating to get pole fitness into the 2012 Olympics.

If the idea of climbing up a pole, flipping upside down and holding yourself in mid-air with one arm scares you, fear not. Pole dancing, like most exercises, is all about finding the right fit for you.

“I think people get caught up in the physically-fit aspect of [pole dancing],” said Amy Kim, a pole dance instructor at Shockra Studio in New York City. “With anything, there’s a learning curve involved … Regardless of what your fitness level is, anyone can enjoy it. There are women of all shapes and sizes who are pole dancing.”

Of course, it’s hard to think of pole dancing without the six-inch stilettos and skimpy outfits and for some that is as essential to the workout as a wearing bathing suit to go swimming. For others it’s all about fitness, and gym shorts and t-shirts are their standard attire.

Not sure what type of pole dancing is right for you? “Pull a goldilocks,” says Kim. She suggests trying out as many teachers at as many studios as you can. Aside from seeing if you like the class itself, Kim says to pay close attention to the teacher. Does she have a body type that you aspire to? Does she move in an inspiring way? Does she have an energy you like? All of these are important to consider when choosing a studio.

Can’t get to a studio? Many organizations, including Sheila Kelley’s S Factor, offer DVDs of their workouts for at-home use. All you need is a space and a pole (HellaWella recommends the X Pole , which stays in place by suspension, requiring no drilling of holes in your beautiful ceiling.

While pole dancing is most commonly associated with women, men have been getting in on the act as well. New York-based instructor Steven Retchless, the first-ever Male American Pole Fitness Champion, has been wowing the judges and audience alike as a contestant on “America’s Got Talent.”

For Kim, the fact that more folks are checking out pole dancing is a good thing.

“I’m really happy that tons of studios are opening and reaching out to a bigger community. It’s really great that people are finding the discipline and finding something that makes them happy. Five or 10 years from now, all I would like to see is for people to keep on dancing. I will try to teach and to dance for as long as I can.”


We also spent some time scouring the Web for the best fitness deals in New York, San Fran and L.A. so you can spend less time in front of the screen and more time living the healthy HellaWella lifestyle. Click on your city to check them out!