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?

Editor's Note:  Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

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soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Julie M.

    Ihave been a student at Pole la Teaz for over a year now (I am at Level 6) and it is by far the best work I have experienced!You definitely get in touch with your inner goddess and look great while doing it-wink!

    August 11, 2008 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Antigone Locklear

    I have been a student at polelateaz almost since the begining and I absolutely love the atmosphere. The instructors are top notch. This is something every woman should try, not only is it one of the best workouts around, it is also empowering giving you more confidence in everything you do, and not to mention how sexy and sensual you feel from learning chair dance, lap dance, jiggle, pole dance!! Try it....I guarantee you will be addicted!

    August 11, 2008 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Marlena

    I am a cancer survior. Pole dancing has help me be more confident and beautiful. I look better, and I feel sexy. Keep up the good work Angela, there are a lot of women out there with low self esteem. May you continued to have sucess.

    August 11, 2008 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Tammy

    Polelateaz is awesome! I started taking classes over a year ago to add to my exercise routine post baby. What many don't realize is how much of a great core workout and overall body body workout you really get. After three kids I never imagined I could be smaller and more fit than before having them. Not to mention the confidence that comes along with tapping into your inner goddess and getting in shape all at the same time.

    August 12, 2008 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Melissa, Los Angeles

    I wish it was more readily available because i'm sure it's expensive. I'd try it if it was cheaper! I took hip hop dancing for a year and it was great – I moved muscles I never knew I had – too bad it got too expensive.

    August 12, 2008 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Anita

    Does anyone know a place in or around Charlotte NC that is comparable to Pole la Teaz? I would love to learn but do not want to go where people will be judgemental.

    August 12, 2008 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Craig

    In tenth grade, I spent a month of the summer mixing concrete by hand to "chink" between the logs of my family-project summer log cabin. Every day, several times a day. Sorta like digging trenches all day.
    What I complained-about being Grunt Work turned out to strengthen my upper body - as well as (surprisingly) my confidence- enough to go out for football that fall.
    While pole dancing is beyond me, I would like to be a fly on that wall....... the seeming-contradiction of 'exploitation' from 'sexiness' makes the membership list swell.

    August 13, 2008 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. April

    Belly dancing is another option for getting toned and in shape. You will stretch every part of your body from neck to ankles, and feel sexy shimmying your hips at the same time.

    August 15, 2008 at 03:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Michelle, CA

    I'm starting belly dancing in a few weeks. I heard that combined with other cardio is a great way to get in shape and shed some... pounds. I've been dancing Salsa for a few months, but I thought I'd try this and see how that goes.

    August 15, 2008 at 18:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sandi

    Pole Dancing is the best way to loose weight, and it's lots of fun.
    I didn't know to I try it. Believe me it works. I believe it is a new wave of loosing weight.. Plus, you are being enpowered at the same time.

    August 16, 2008 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Scott R. Hendler

    I run an extreme MMA bootcamp in Miami, FL. My routines are always unique and out of the ordinary. I truly believe that it is human nature to do things that bring pleasure. The more you enjoy it the more likely you are to do it, and stick to it! So why not find an interesting way to mix a bit of excitement and pleasure into your workout.

    August 17, 2008 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. sk

    Pretty interesting article.. I was on a weight loss program a few months back and was going to a regular gym. However, I wanted to spice up my exercise routine a bit and decided to join a belly dancing class in addition. I was pretty surprised that dancing yeilded the same results as I got gymming. I also remember my belly dancing instructor telling us that her toned abs and arms were all from dancing ... so all you girls out there... shimmy away to better health

    August 19, 2008 at 17:24 | Report abuse | Reply
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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.