Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bringing Sexy Back...

Bring Sexy Back -
Try Two New Workouts to Get Your Groove On!

I’ll admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve done anything for money, (or even a decent dinner), that has left me with black and blue marks on my inner thighs. But this month’s racy Triangle Style assignment had been written on my kitchen calendar for weeks. Straddled between Wednesday’s 3pm orthodontist appointment and a 10am visit to the vet on Friday, Thursday’s square read: “6:30pm, Pole Dancing Class, (remember to ask about lap dancing). On Sunday it said: “Zumba”.

Now, this sounded like a story I could really wrap my legs around. Long before Justin Timberlake was even conceived, I’d been trying to bring my “sexy” back. Who knew I’d find it right here in the bedroom community of Cary? Aradia Fitness, located on Chapel Hill Road, offers pole dancing and sensual movement classes which studio owner, Terri Kerr, says will help you “meet your sexy side” and “reveal the sensual goddess within.” Kerr claims that in her lighthearted fitness classes, students can quickly learn shed their inhibitions, their clothing - and even more than a few pounds. Gee-whiz, that’s a whole lot more than a step class at the Y has ever promised!

Before you slip into something more comfortable and head over to Aradia for a workout, you’ll need to strip away any preconceived notions that you may have about pole dancing. Go in with an open mind and you’ll see why pole dancing, as a new way to stay in shape, is catching the attention of everyone; from Hollywood starlets to hometown soccer moms. The bottom line is, Kerr says, “ladies come in for the pole, but stay for the workout”. I agree, once you take your first spin around one of Kerr’s shiny brass poles, you’ll swear off your boring bike spin-classes forever.

Even though the nature of Aradia’s classes are more “naughty” than “nice”, the studio is totally a class act. Think of it as a unique fitness facility geared to give students “a sense of wellness as they learn to adore, celebrate and flaunt every curve of their body” - but with poles. The studio offers classes at a wide variety of fitness levels, allowing each student to grow and progress on the pole at their own pace. According to Kerr, the third week is usually when her ladies really blossom. By then, they start to feel comfortable with themselves, and the routines, and they’re ready to let loose and have fun with it. That’s also about when she’ll start to introduce “props” like feather boas and the six-inch Lucite platform shoes that are available for purchase at the front desk.

Kerr believes that every woman, no matter what age, shape or size, wants to feel sexy. Her clientele ranges from nubile coeds to nimble grandmas, and everyone in between. Each class she sees first-hand how students build their physical strength along with their self-confidence. Time and again, she’s witnessed how ladies “walk out with a lighter step and a bigger smile.” She’s even taught breast cancer survivors, looking for a way to build back their bodies and spirits in a safe, supportive and empowering non-judgmental environment.

In addition to the pole dancing classes, Aradia offers specialty workshops such as lap dancing and stripping, as well as more intimate “Shy Girl” lessons. They also host private events like bachelorette parties and gals go wild for her Girls Nite Outs! Sorry fellas, the studio is “Ladies Only”, but don’t worry - I’m sure you’ll enjoy the one-on-one tutoring when your dancer gets home…

I went to tryout the hour-long introductory “Teaser” class. Our instructor, Christina Dees, lead her class of newbies back to one of the two richly painted studios, each with elegant curtains gathered in the corners and tall brass poles planted in the middle of the room. As I nervously filed into the dimly lit room, I was relieved to find that, unlike most dance studios, it completely devoid of any mirrors. This, Kerr had explained, was to help keep us free from distraction so we can focus on “feeling the music from within” - and that was just fine with me! I had no interest in seeing what I was about to look like from with-out! Dees put some sexy music on the sound system and we were off!

Aradia’s pole dancing classes all start with a gentle warm-up, followed by a series of strength and core building floor exercises before ever hitting the poles. Many of their techniques are based on yoga, pilates and traditional dance training - but often with an Aradia twist. For example, the first thing Dee’s instructed us to do was to get into our “Aradia posture”; head up, shoulders down, tummies tucked - and bottoms out. To get into the groove, we started by simply strutting around the room with a sexy swagger, hips jutting left and right, as toes lazily dragged and we stretched out our arms. As I clumsily tried to keep my balance, and my dignity, while tripping and bumping along the wall for support, I wondered if perhaps I’d left my sexy back in the car. Again, I quietly thanked Kerr for the missing mirrors. Dees led us through about forty five minutes of intense strengthening mat work, peppered with special Aradia-inspired instructions such as “sexying down” as we reached for the floor and finishing a stretch with “roaming hands” or a playful hair flip.

At last it was time to take to the pole. Even just trying to saunter around the pole without losing my sweaty grip gave me a new appreciation for the professionals. They really do work hard for the money - and some even come to Aradia to learn a new trick or two. To get our creative juices flowing, we were instructed to look at the pole and imagine something seductive to do with it. Still out of breath from trying to “sexy” back up to my feet, and a little dizzy from all those hair flips, I drew a blank.

Finally, Dees showed each of us how to do the basic “fireman”, and it was time for me to take my first spin. I swung my body around to work up some speed and hurled myself onto the pole. Holding on for dear life, my slippery hands and legs slid down, bellowing a blister-induced squeal, as I twirled into twisted knot on the floor. It became immediately clear that I should NOT quit my day job! She assured me, however, that in time I’d master this potential life skill and many more! It really was fun though!

Pole dancing, did in fact, prove to be quite a workout. I may not have “met my sexy side”, however after class I definitely reacquainted with my sore side.

Ready to get back into the groove once again, I zipped on over the Let’s Dance studio, just off of Harrison and Maynard in Cary. Along with their standard partner and social dancing classes such as Foxtrot, Swing, Mambo, even the Hustle, Let’s Dance now has a spicy new offering - Zumba. This Latin-based fitness class is an exciting fusion of upbeat world music, culture and sexy dance steps guaranteed to get your hips shaking and heart racing!

Originating in Columbia, South America, the Zumba dance party craze had been taking the workout world by storm, one Salsa step at time. Certified Zumba instructor, Saliima Owen, flavors her zesty classes with a delicious mix of Latin dance like Cha Cha, Merenge, Tengo with a dash of Hip Hop, Hawaiian and belly dancing moves thrown in for taste!

Let’s Dance currently offers two levels of Zumba classes, both focusing on a low impact, cardio based workout that is designed to help dancers build their core strength, flexibility and coordination. Each fun-filled class incorporates a steady stream booty busting moves, but the Level Two class really kicks up the heat with a faster pace and more complicated choreography.

Since this was a family friendly class - more “sassy” than “sexy” - I brought my thirteen year-old daughter Sydney along for the fun! Next time we’ll even bring my mom along to join in! After warming up with a little stretching, Saliima patiently went over a few of the basic steps, like simple Salsa and Meregue footwork, along with some easy arm movements to get the party started.

In no time, Saliima had us all “one-two-cha-cha-chaing” like Latinas, as we shimmied to the sounds of trumpets and drum beats blaring from the stereo. It was a freestyle fiesta as we danced around and introduced ourselves to each other. In time to the music, we took turns spinning our revolving partners across the floor. We could definitely feel the music. And we even looked pretty good in the studio mirrors!

The forty-five minute class zoomed by as we Hula’d, Hip-Hopped and huffed along, dancing our hearts out trying to catch our breath. Just as it was getting “muy caliente”, it was time for all of Saliima’s smiling - and sweaty - students to say “adios”! Zumba’s hot workout may be one of the coolest new ways to get in shape!

So if you’re ready to really to get your groove on again and shake up your fitness program, head on out to Cary. I might not have brought sexy back - but at least now I know where it lives!