Unleashing the Tigress, One Pole Dancing Class at a Time

Unleashing the Tigress, One Pole Dancing Class at a Time
S-Factor class. I'm in the middle with FITL moms Brook (left) and Marnie (right).

There’s something different about me in the last few days… a little more pep in my talk, a little more sass in my stride. Could it be because I experienced an activity recently that was so new, so foreign, and so completely out of the realm of what one would expect of a mom? You betcha. I went pole dancing.

Despite the false bravado leading up to the class, I have to admit – I was nervous. Nervous as in sweaty palms and unquenchable thirst, not such helpful reactions when a pole and two-hour class are involved. Did I say two hours? Yep. That was my first hiccup; I assumed the class would only be sixty minutes. A two-hour exercise class? Who has that kind of time to get in touch with her inner sex goddess?

After a somewhat panicked car ride to the studio with a friend hell-bent on getting us there before class started, and a very hard time figuring out how to punch the correct key code to get buzzed in, I crossed the threshold to the urban pole dancing oasis. Well actually, I entered, was kicked out for having my flip-flops on, and then I re-entered. It was just as you’d expect – part yoga center and part sex toy shop, with S&M-looking shoes lining the back wall. My apprehension only grew as I rifled through the shorty-shorts, tutus, and thigh-high leg warmers. Was I seriously going to do this?

A few minutes later, our group walked into the studio. Arranged in a circle were seven floor-to-ceiling poles that did not look as scary as I thought they would. In between each pole was a blue floor mat that was –  to my relief – unlike your typical yoga mats, which make you feel like you're resting your knees on a brick. Dispersed around the room were cozy 1920’s style lamps. No glaring lights. No mirrors.

Our instructor began to speak. No accent that I could detect, but her name was Italia. Because, if you’re going to try pole dancing, of course it makes sense that your instructor’s name would not be “Ann” or “Wendy”  it would be Italia. Talk about sexy. Petite and spunky, with brown hair down her back (way down her back), I could see her rocking that pole while I sat along the side, eating a bag of Baked Lays (crumbs falling on my t-shirt), sipping a Diet Coke, and feeling completely intimidated and inadequate.

Italia, who realizes she now needs to cram a two-hour class in into one, is unfazed and ready for action. I listen as she explains the idea behind S-Factor, which is that each woman should have the chance to feel sexy and to explore her body in a way that is personal and unique. And to do so in an environment that is supportive, with no mirrors, no comparisons and no expectations other than to enjoy and experience the moment. As someone who avoids classes at health clubs because I spend most of the time lamenting how others are in better shape than me, I get it.

The lights go down, the red bulbs from the lamps cast a warm glow across the room, and as Italia leads us through the opening stretches, I find myself confused. At certain moments, I let the music take over, the pulsing beat lulling me into a zone of complete release and relaxation. At other moments, as Italia encourages us to stretch, to feel, to lift, and to touch (yes, touch, but don’t get creepy on me, please), I have the urge to giggle. A mostly controllable urge, but still the urge. I mean, really, is it possible to go from a daily existence that’s mostly about the mundane – kids, chores, bills, domesticity – to an hour in which it’s all about feeling sexy?

It’s ironic. For the large majority of parents, sex figured somewhere into the equation of having a kid. Yet after having them we’re often physically and mentally exhausted or so unhappy with our bodies (women AND men) that sex is the last thing we want to think about. Ask someone you know who has a baby this question: Seven hours of continuous sleep or sex, which would you choose? I can guarantee I know the answer, at least for most moms and dads.

Even as our kids get older, we don’t naturally reconnect with our significant others. Good for places like S-Factor for forcing us, gently, to remember that sex – and sexiness – belong in our in our relationships, regardless of what phase of life we’re in. Good for them for reminding us that we deserve to feel sexy.

And for those of us moms who don’t get pregnant just by holding a baby, or have suffered a miscarriage, I recommend trying a class at S-Factor. It is kind on the body (minus the few moments we had to bust into major abdominal exercises. During those moments, I hope the other students thought my groans were a form of self-expression rather than connoting the extreme pain I was feeling after having not done a sit-up in over 4 years) and might be just what a woman needs after feeling the lack of control or physical disconnect not uncommon during infertility or pregnancy loss.

For me, the beauty of the class wasn’t in the pole dancing, which I’m not going to get into much here (Suffice it say it was, quite simply, awesome). This class, rather than be about swinging on a piece of metal, was really about doing something seemingly wild, hip, fun and new. And doing so with friends who made the experience all the more better, although I highly recommend avoiding eye-contact while you’re doing your sultry S-Walk. Sometimes, even for a budding sex goddess, it’s just too hard to hold back the laughs.

~Wendy Widom, Partner, Families in the Loop

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