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August 11th, 2008
11:01 AM ET

Exercising your inner vixen

By Judy Fortin
CNN Medical Correspondent

I’ve covered hundreds of stories during my 18 years with CNN, but one recent assignment left me blushing. Pole dancing is a growing exercise trend. My plan was to observe a class in Atlanta and interview some students.

I wasn’t quite prepared for what I witnessed. A few women were dressed in gym shorts and T-shirts, but the majority wore sexy teddies or camisoles and stiletto heels. I, on the other hand, must have looked like an overdressed prude in the corner. My photographer was the only man allowed in the building. Together we laughed our way through a fun and eye-opening evening.

We watched as mothers, teachers, claims adjusters, nurses and businesswomen in all shapes and sizes used exotic dance moves to get in a workout and tap their inner vixen.

I had no idea that pole dancing was such strenuous exercise. The women were lifting their body weight as they circled, straddled and shimmied their way through pole “tricks” – the specific moves.

The advanced students were very impressive, climbing up the 16-foot pole and hanging upside down while holding on with their inner thighs. If I had attempted this I would have torn a ligament or gotten a concussion.

It wasn’t just the derring-do that was impressive. These women seemed to be empowered as they strutted around the dance studio cheering one another on. It was like watching sorority sisters without the sweater sets and pearls.

When the class was ending, all 14 dancers turned toward my corner of the room and tried to coax me onto the dance floor.

I stood up, walked a couple of steps in my sensible one-inch heels and chickened out. This was one story where you wouldn’t see any reporter involvement.

Have you ever tried something unusual to stay fit? How did the experience make you feel?

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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