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Shed pounds, not clothes

Striptease aerobics are option for women looking to shape up

Striptease aerobics are option for women looking to shape up

June 02, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherd University's Wellness Center is turning to striptease to lure women to the gym.

Though, in this case, the only things that will be shed are pounds and insecurity.

Shepherd is now offering a striptease aerobics class, open to students and the general public. Striptease aerobics fuses elements of exotic dance with exercise fundamentals. There are a few caveats: Clothes stay on, and the class is for women only. The hope is the same as would be for any type of group exercise class, that women who sign up for striptease aerobics will eventually look beyond the seductive hook and be turned on to exercise and to living a healthier lifestyle.

"Most women hate machines (and) hate weights, so this is one avenue that they can approach to wellness," said Jennifer Seeley, who teaches a striptease aerobics class at Shepherd University's Wellness Center.

Excited about exercising

Some fitness professionals are concerned that tacking exotic dance onto a workout session has negative connotations and could cheapen the importance of legitimate exercise, said Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, a leading certifier of personal trainers and other fitness specialists.

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But others argue that anything that gets people excited about working out is a good thing.

"Any new way of exercising without having to use equipment is great," said 22-year-old Shepherd student Melia Mollohan after a Wednesday night class wrapped up. Mollohan works out as often as four times a week.

More than two dozen women of varying ages and body types met at the Wellness Center gym for a striptease aerobics class. They stretched and warmed up -similar to what you'd expect at a typical aerobics class, give or take a few hip thrusts - to Ray J's "Sexy Can I." Then they learned the first few eight-counts for a new routine, which called for spread-eagle squatting, ample hip tossing and some hip swiveling in a push-up position.

There were no scantily clad women - all tank tops, shorts or capris, and sneakers. Seeley wore a black ball cap, black Nikes and a ponytail. She said if a routine calls for "stripping," women are given clothes to put on top of the clothes they wore to class. Sometimes they dance in chairs.

Exotic but useful

Striptease aerobics were introduced in California a half-dozen years ago. Carmen Electra starred in a series of aerobic striptease videos in 2003. The workout trend has since taken on many forms. There are pole-dancing fitness classes, cardio-striptease classes, celebrity-endorsed DVD sets, the list goes on. Most of these classes require certification from the workouts' creators.

The Shepherd Wellness Center uses the Urban Striptease Aerobics workout, the brainchild of Tricia Murphy, a Seattle-based fitness instructor.

Bryant said that on the broad spectrum of workout trends, strip aerobics in all of its forms falls under the same category as boxing clubs, dance-aerobics hybrids and outdoor boot camps - workouts with a twist. The American Council on Exercise ranked nontraditional workouts as the top fitness trend for 2008.

In the past, workouts that are a little too far outside the box, workouts that do not incorporate movement patterns most exercisers are already familiar with, have not been sustainable as trends. Bryant said the popularity of striptease aerobics has already started to level off.

Wellness Center has been offering Wednesday night Urban Striptease Aerobics classes since January. Its popularity seems to be growing, Seeley said.

Shepherd class participant Natalie Liston, another Shepherd student, was new to the class. She said the push-ups were the hardest part.

"I think I might come back," Liston said.

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