Leave It On 

Sensual workouts allow women to strip without stripping

Sexy R&B music is blasting on the radio as three women slink around the floor of an East Memphis dance studio on a Tuesday night. They’re performing a synchronized stripper routine, and it isn’t long before they’re all lying on the floor with their backs arched, kicking their legs in the air in a sultry fashion. They call it the Goddess pose.

When the routine is over, the three sit as another group of women takes the floor. Their petite, blonde instructor joins them as they walk slowly toward a mirrored wall, one foot in front of the other. As they move into a floor position called the Sexy Push-Up, the instructor tells them to “paint the wall with your buttocks.”

These women could easily be mistaken for strippers-in-training, but they’re actually working out in Rachael Vint’s “Sensual Workout” class at the Pyramid Dance Studio. Their clothes are staying on (although one woman does wear an extra layer of clothing to take off for effect). “I’m not training the girls to go out and get a job,” says Vint, who trained as a classical ballet dancer. “The purpose is exercise for the whole body, and it’s just fun.”

Sensual workouts gained popularity after actress-turned-fitness-guru Sheila Kelly began demonstrating her S Factor workout on Oprah. On her Web site (SFactor.com), Kelly says she discovered the physical benefits of dancing like a stripper while preparing for her role in a film about strip clubs, Dancing at the Blue Iguana. Carmen Electra has also released an aerobic striptease video.

While Vint doesn’t teach the official S Factor workout, she’s adapted many of her moves from watching Kelly perform. Her workout, however, is more fast-paced than Kelly’s.

“She does everything very, very slowly, but I like to speed things up some,” says Vint. “I like to feel like I’m dancing rather than just sulking around.”

According to Vint, her sensual exercise provides a full-body workout, but the focus is mainly on the abs, lovehandles, and back. Besides the physical benefits, Vint says the classes give women more confidence -- and some ideas for the bedroom.

“I’m teaching them how to be comfortable with their sexuality, how to build their self-confidence, and how to have a little foreplay with the lights on,” she says.

Vint believes her students have better moves than some of the women working at local strip clubs. Last month, she took her students on a field trip to a club, and from what they saw, the professionals should take lessons from her.

“We felt the club needed to come to us, because a lot of the girls really aren’t doing anything except walking around the stage taking their clothes off. There’s not a lot of dancing going on,” says Vint. “I just haven’t figured out the proper way to call the club and say, ‘Hey, your girls need to take a class.’”

The women in her Tuesday class appear to be in their mid- to late-20s, but Vint says the workout is appropriate for any woman over 18. In a previous class, she taught middle-aged women from a church group. The moves can also be adjusted for students with minor neck or back injuries.

But as one Tuesday-night student points out, be prepared to have bruises on your knees for the first six months, since many dance moves are performed with knees on the floor.

“You can’t wear skirts above the knee to church at all,” the student says.

Currently, Vint is teaching her class three nights a week. Mondays and Wednesdays are reserved for beginners, and Tuesday is the advanced class. Each class begins by learning one routine. Once students master it, Vint teaches a second routine. The next step is learning to work the pole, which is the point the Tuesday class has worked toward. They’re just waiting for the pole to come in the mail.

“The plan is for us to be able to climb the pole and wrap our legs around it without holding ourselves on,” says Vint. She adds that her personal goal is to swing around the pole using only her hands.

Whether students are trying to get in shape or build their confidence or both, Vint says she’s a testament to the benefits of the workout. And she isn’t the only one who’s noticed:

“My husband says that since I started teaching the classes, he can see that I carry myself with more sex appeal.” 

“Sensual Workout” at Pyramid Dance Studio, 1254 Wilbec Road (309-5153, ravint@yahoo.com). There are three classes a week: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $40 a month or $12 per class.


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