Strippers losing grip on pole as fitness fans swing in

Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:44pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

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...

<p>Jennifer Mayer tries a new trick during an intermediate pole dancing class at Flirty Girl Fitness in Chicago in this file photo from February 17, 2009.REUTERS/John Gress</p>