Monday, April 07, 2008

Such a tease

We are all a little shy, nervous, apprehensive and self-conscious our first time. Walking into the room you are bombarded with millions of thoughts racing through your mind; what position should I start in, are the lights too bright, does this outfit make me look fat, am I already sweating? Then the music begins and your heart starts to race in nervous anticipation as to what happens next. You are afraid you won’t know the moves and terrified about not keeping up. It starts off slow and gentle but quickly escalates into a fury of energy and movement. Catching a glimpse in the mirror of your hot and sweaty body moving to the rhythm of the music is like having an out of body experience, watching in wonder and disbelief at the way your own body moves. It had been such a long time since I was a newbie in an aerobics class and I had forgotten just how nerve-wracking it could be.

The Firm opened their workout studio in Minneapolis 21 years ago and is considered to have the most innovative aerobics program in the mid-west if not the country, receiving awards from magazines such as Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar. For years I have heard that The Firm had the best aerobics classes in town, ones that pushed physical limits and provided entertainment making it impossible to miss future beatings, er, I mean classes. Despite being a sucker for a good aerobics class I never visited the Mecca of Muscles because it was slightly out of my way, expensive and filled with people whose butts you could bounce a quarter off of. After nearly four straight months of hitting the treadmill in my office gym and the elliptical trainer at home, boredom was threatening to end my exercise program. I needed something different to get out of my exercise funk and decided it was the perfect week to give The Firm a try. Misery loves company and with my friend Amy working locally for the week I had the perfect partner in crime to share the experience with. After consulting the schedule and class descriptions it was clearly obvious which session we had to attend; Cardio Strip Tease.

The Firm Minneapolis website proclaims Strip Tease as delicious and nutritious. The official description asserts that normal people need help acting sexy, not Mary Ann sexy but the over the top sexy brought to us by Ginger. Even Gilligan would agree I am more Maryann sexy: big smile, fun, intelligent, not afraid to climb a tree for coconuts. Maryann did not try to be sexy and if she did try she would look silly. Ginger on the other hand had all the moves that render men speechless; the bedroom eyes, hippy swagger, shiny hair, seductive voice. Could a workout actually render a person like me "Ginger sexy?"

Walking into The Firm it is hard not to notice that everyone around has rock solid bodies, just as the name of the club suggests. Entering the gym is like walking onto the set of a 80's rock video filled with good-looking, sweaty people decked out in spandex dancing against a rough and urban backdrop. The front desk receptionists are like drug dealers; so excited to sign up another happy customer that they offer a free week to entice a long-term addiction. We signed up for our week and met the Strip Tease instructor who was not wearing any shoes… or socks. We called the gym prior to our arrival to ensure there was no dress code requiring tear away pants (good thing, mine were at the cleaners) but neglected to inquire about shoes. We learned that the Cardio element of Strip Tease makes wearing the preferred foot ware of “stage” performers, acrylic stilettos, too demanding so most people just go barefoot. Makes perfect sense since bare feet are probably worn more often in the boudoir then 5 inch heels (footnote to self: research statistics on bedroom shoe habits of American women). You know what they say, when in Vegas do as the showgirls do, so we left our sneakers and our dignity in the locker room before joining the class.

After we found our spot in the room, the music started and the bumping and grinding began. It took every ounce of adult in me not to giggle at the image of my hips gyrating in the giant studio mirrors. Every move I saw in the mirror reminded of the Seinfeld episode where everyone discovered Elaine was a terrible dancer. Did I always look this ridiculous when dancing? On a positive note the sheer embarrassment of bad moves and trying to inappropriately touch myself in front of a room of people elevated my heart rate even further, adding to the intensity of the workout.

Kelly the instructor made it look so easy and I wondered whether she learned her technique through a previous career. I am comfortable enough in my sexuality to admit that her moves, expressions, body, and pretty much everything else about her was hot. Each song and routine got sexier and naughtier. Even if I look like a beached mammal dancing it is hard not to get a good workout with the sounds of Justin Timberlake, Brittany Spears and the local favorite, Prince’s Pussy Control, pulsing in the air. Watching her move I had a sudden revelation on why men love long hair so much; long, thick, sexy hair is a show prop. Long hair provides us mere mortals a way to draw attention away from the klutzy moves made by the rest of our anatomy. If my hair were longer no one would notice my hips were off beat and my arms resembled one of those crazy octopus like sprinklers that children run around in during the summer. Unfortunately my short hair excuse was completely quashed after noticing the hottest stripper in the class was a twenty-something gay Asian man with short black hair.

Unlike popular pole dancing classes which require special equipment, the beauty of strip tease is it utilizes paraphernalia that can be found in the average home. Working our abs and gluts required nothing more then a mat to lie upon and moves pulled straight from the porn on demand channel. We used a box from step class as a makeshift prop to practice chair dancing; memories of Flashdance flooded my brain. Our favorite use of props by far was on our second visit where we used a towel to simulate tossing articles of clothing across the room in what was one of the more useful lessons for long term enjoyment.
“I have a head for business and a body for sin.”
-Melanie Griffith in Working Girl
Yet despite the embarrassment and soreness we attended another class in an attempt to bring sexy back. It was so much easier to relax and enjoy it the second time around. Strip Tease really shed some light on women who dance for dollars as their livelihood; beyond being morally degrading, stripping is physically exhausting and not an easy way to make a quick buck. The moves worked out our hips, thighs and abs and our bodies required a ton of Advil the next day. Personally it was an eye opening experience; not that I deemed myself in the company of Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren, but there was a part of me that thought with all these curves and a hint of confidence I had to possess a little bit of sexiness. Unfortunately this class served as proof that using and moving these curves makes me look more like Shamu then Shakira. Maybe if I sign up classes and practice really hard then Cardio Strip Tease can both tone my body and teach me to be more Ginger-esque, but until then I plan on keeping my day job.


Diane said...

I've got to get me one of those classes! Since you know my shoe addiction, I will admit I do have 5inch heels I could wear (black, not acrylic)... Does it matter if they're slides or slingback?

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Diane, I still cannot fathom the grace that you possess that makes it feasible to stay upright in 4 inch heels...

Slingbacks would probably stay on better during the chair dance however slides may make the final routine easier to complete.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chelle! I also took an intro Strip Tease class about a year ago in an attempt to jump start my work out. I now respect chicks who take a spin around a pole to make a living, b/c the class kicked my butt! I was sooo sore. It was also rather humbling to watch myself in the mirror - I looked gawky and awkward, none of the fluid grace of the other chicks in the class. Needless to say, I put down the boa, and took up pilates :-)

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Luckily men are very easy to please regardless as to how gawky and idiotic we look dancing. As some classic email forward once said, all women need to do to be sexy for men is show up naked and bring beer.