As seen at BlackDoctor.org...
Yes, I enjoy pole dancing. No, I don’t wish to be a stripper.
A common misconception about people who participate in sexy empowerment fitness is that said people desire to be exotic dancers. In fact, most of the women I know choose to participate in these types of classes for a number of reasons, none of which are #strippergoals. This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with the profession, it just isn’t the reason we opt to take these classes.
Sexy fitness formats include, but are not limited to, pole dance, chair dance, heels, belly dance, salsa, aerial and even twerk. Like sex, these formats were once taboo, but thanks to third-wave feminism and social media, they’re more popular and mainstream than ever before.
The most alluring thing about these classes is that they provide a safe space for women to explore their sensuality and athleticism simultaneously, without being judged or slut-shamed. Participants feel a sense of empowerment from moving their bodies in ways that would otherwise be frowned upon. In a world where we’re constantly being told we’re not enough, these classes help us feel more comfortable in our own bodies and give us a boost of confidence.
These classes not only provide space for emotional healing but hold many physical benefits as well. They’re generally low-impact full body workouts and consistently participating in these classes can help develop core strength, tone the legs, arms, and back. It’s dance we’re talking about, so this means cardio, improved coordination, flexibility and posture, and increased caloric expenditure.
Now let’s talk about classroom attire. In pole classes, as well as some other formats, you’ll notice the dancers wear minimal clothing. I personally enjoy any opportunity that calls for me to be pants-less, but there’s a good reason for the sports bras and boy cut shorts.
The skin must be exposed in order for the body to grip the pole when climbing and performing tricks. If dancers wore t-shirts and sweats, they’d slide right down and the class just wouldn’t work. Other classes, such as chair dance and striptease often call for more clothes, even layers, that may be peeled off as choreographed.
As a teacher and student of sexy empowerment formats, I find that each class and instructor is different. You’ll find that some classes have more structure than others and that some will focus more on passion than athleticism and technique.I personally like to start my classes with an affirmations segment. This way I can effectively clear the space of any negativity or anxiety and set intentions for the rest of class. You may have to shop around before finding the instructor and class that works for you, but once you find your match, you’re not going to want to let it go.
Although I’ve had some of the best times of my life during pole, burlesque and heels classes, the best part is how I’ve felt walking away. It’s self-discovery in a judgment-free space and in most cases, everyone encourages one another to be fearless and confident. We do moves that we never thought were possible in our own bodies, so there’s this post-class revelation of how powerful we truly are. You leave class with new knowledge and a renewed spirit, which comes in handy nowadays.
There are plenty of black-owned studios and classes to try across the country. Popular instructors often tour, so be on the lookout for them as well. All it takes is quick Google search and you’re almost guaranteed to find a nearby class. I’ve listed some of my favorites below!
Black Girls Pole: A database of black-owned Pole and Aerial fitness studios across the U.S.
Femme Night: A monthly INCLUSIVE event hosted by yours truly in Los Angeles!
Xoticy: Monica Wilson is one of my all-time favorite choreographers and instructors, she tours and teaches her stylized floor work, and also hosts weekly classes in Atlanta, GA.
Femme Lett’: Taught every Monday night at Paul Robeson High School in Chicago, IL by Yahkira Beard.