Strippers losing grip on pole as fitness fans swing in
By James B. Kelleher
CHICAGO, March 20 (Reuters Life!) - No corsets. No pasties. No thongs. No garters.
And absolutely no nudity.
Can this really be the future of pole dancing?
The provocative, shaft-straddling burlesque technique popularized by Hollywood movies like "The Wrestler" and TV shows like "Desperate Housewives" is shedding its seedy image and making a play for respectability thanks to a new kind of dancer, drawn to the pole by the athleticism it requires as much as the sex appeal it exudes.
Some, like Porscha Williams, a 22-year-old college student in Chicago, simply see pole dancing as a new form of exercise, a way to make fitness fun but still challenging.
"I'm getting a lot of cardio and a lot of upper body strength from pole," she said on a recent evening after a workout at a studio called Flirty Girl Fitness.
But others are embracing pole dancing, whose roots reach back to a traditional Indian form of agility training known as Mallakhamb, as a competitive sport that is headed for amateur athletics' big time.
"I would love to see this in the Olympics, that would be such a breakthrough for this sport," says Anna Grundstrom, a co-founder of the U.S. Pole Dance Federation. Continued...