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S Factor Review: Pole Dancing 101

Posted Jan 09 2010 12:00am

***GOOD LUCK TO MEGHANN, RACHEL, and MELISSA on the DISNEY MARATHON THIS WEEKEND.  YOU FABULOUS LADIES WILL ROCK EVERY MAGICAL MILE!***

I am sure many of you have heard of S Factor, or at least pole dancing as a form of exercise. Celebrities such as Teri Hatcher and Kate Hudson have brought it to the mainstream, and for a while there it seemed like every gossip rag has pics of our favorite pretty young actresses was learning to work the pole for their next role.  The S Factor book is always prominently featured at my local Barnes and Nobles.

A few nights ago, Liz and I decided to check out a class for ourselves.  For Liz, a huge fan of StripXpertise (which both she and I have reviewed), it was the next logical step in expanding her sexercise repetoire. For me, I am up for any new and interesting sweat inducer that comes my way–and if I get to do that workout with Liz, all the better!

So what did we think?  I pestered relentless asked Liz for her thoughts, so you will get both of our reflections. Actually, we hadn’t discussed it before she sent me and email, but our thoughts were astonishingly similar for two people who have very different workout styles.

Before we get into the review, here’s an idea of what your average pole dancing class experience looks like.  I arrived at the very posh and cosy studio, which looked a lot like a nice yoga studio with lots of plush couches, complimentary water, magazines and racks of workout gear and other merchandise.  The staff was exceptionally nice and welcoming and showed me the changing room and studio. It was much larger than I expected. There were several studios ranging in size and everything was sparkling clean and very zen on all counts.  The photos make it seem much brighter than it is due to my flash, but actually the rooms are very dimly lit by heavily draped lamps and low lighting. pole dancing 009 pole dancing 010 pole dancing 011 pole dancing 012 pole dancing 013 pole dancing 014

Liz arrived and we hung out on the couch as we waited for the teacher to call us into the studio. The class was larger than I expected, about 12 or so first timers. We actually had two instructors, one’s name was Ilove. That is her real name.  She brought us into the room, bare feet only.  And asked us about why we were taking the class and the usually chit chat.  We had to wait for over 15 minutes for the other instructor to arrive, so I was getting really impatient with all the going around the room jazz.  I am not a fan of waiting or lateness, especially when I was really excited to start the class.

But at least it gave us time to discuss the class structure and the different classes.

The typical class is two hours.

It involves a 45 minute warm-up/workout.  This part is a lot of stretching, some ab and leg work, a lot of stroking and touching and using your assets.  It is all one long connected flow, it actually has a very similar feel to yoga.

Then you get to play on the pole for about 20 minutes. Believe it or not, 20 minutes of pole work and your arms are shot.

Next you learn a dance, which you add onto as you progress through the levels.  There are 6 levels which move you through pole tricks and dance routines to lap dancing and stripping, although no nudity is actually allowed at the studio.

And finally you have some time to freestyle.  The major emphasis is about embracing your sexuality and letting go and loving your body and your femininity.  The environment feels very safe and free of judgment to do this, almost anyone would feel comfortable letting go a bit.

The intro class went like this:

  • 45 minute warm up
  • 10 minutes learning the S walk
  • 20 minutes learning the Firefly move on the pole—too fun for words
  • 20 or so minutes learning and practicing the routine
  • 10 minutes watching the instructors do their own freestyle routine—which was honestly amazing.  I wasn’t necessarily turned on, but I was in totally disbelief and how these women could climb the pole and effortlessly contort themselves around them.  It was like watching Cirque du Soleil.

And on to our thoughts, as I said, Liz and I ended up feeling almost exactly the same, so I here our Liz’s reflections and I will just add a few additional thoughts at the end.

The studio itself was gorgeous.  Really clean, dimly lit, no mirrors.  The no mirrors thing was surprisingly liberating.  Even when you knew you were looking a fool, you didn’t actually have confirmation of that fact, so it was easier not to feel silly.  The whole “when it feels right you’ll know it’s right” thing was really true.

There was plenty of the standard stretching I would expect, and lots of ab work which was fabulous, but ultimately this went on much too long for my liking.  As someone who is incredibly inflexible, I see the value of all this stretching, but admittedly really hate it. As someone who favors strip tease workouts over yoga, it just seemed to drag.  In fairness, it probably wasn’t THAT long, but I was anxious and excited for pole dancing!  Later when we were working the pole and doing the beginning of the dance routine, a lot of it made more sense and was put into context, and I was immediately less annoyed by all the stretching.

The pole trick we learned was a basic spin, and every one I did went sooo differently.  One or two felt really fabulous, and a couple others were total fails.  I bruise like crazy, so I was a bit concerned about what my legs and arm would look like today, but nothing too bad.  It was really fun, though!  I think we might have to try to convince our other roommate that putting a pole in the living room would be a good idea so that we can practice.  The beginning of the routine we learned was really fun, too, although almost exactly the same as the first one I had done at Strip Xpertease.

All in all, I loved the class and really want to go back, but it’ll be a while before I can save up for a series.  The emphasis on doing what feels right and teaching your body a new way to move was great, and the instructors clearly believe in one of my very favorite things: embracing the inner sexy.

I will second that the warm up seemed a lot like yoga for someone who doesn’t really like yoga.  I was kind of dying to get on with it, and the instructor was speaking in this weird, rhythmic voice that was sort of sensual and sort of creepy.  It bothered me. A lot. However, the stretching was definitely much needed and very beneficial.  Like yoga, I had a hard time being in the moment and practicing body and mind awareness, instead I was thinking about what might come next, what I would post about, my plans for the evening, etc.  I did like how everything flowed together, there were some fun moves and despite the fact that I didn’t love dragging my hair across the floor, I felt oddly empowered by the whole experience.  Again agreeing with Liz, once we learned that many of the warm up moves were necessary for the dance routine, I didn’t mind them at all and everything made sense.

As for the pole, I definitely took a swing immediately after the warm up, I couldn’t help myself.  It was calling to me.  The move we learned, the Firefly, was pretty easy, just your standard jump and spin. It was definitely everything I had hoped, and while some went better than others, each was exhilarating though brief. All I could think was, I want one!  And when can I do it again!

So all and all, the class was a success, we had a lot of fun.  The series are 8 weeks, one two hour class a week, so it would easily fit into my workout regimen without taking up too much time.  However, the series are almost $500 each and there are 6 series, so while I had a good time, I can’t afford to do this for more than the occasional single class treat.  While I would love to master the pole, my desire to learn to give lap dances is beyond minimal, so life goes on.

In terms of “feel the burn factor.”  The class probably burns about the same amount of calories as the average yoga class, but like yoga, that’s not really the point.  The ab work was fairly intense, but very brief.   My arms, on the other hand, are really really feeling it today.  My shoulders have been burning since I woke up this morning. I also have a very unsightly bruise on my calf from one of the less successful pole spins.

If you have the desire to unleash your inner sexy and try something new, I definitely recommend checking out an intro class. Most people came with a friend, which makes it a little more fun, but if you are spinning solo, there is no need to be intimidated!

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