A Pole Made for Dancing �Round
I've always loved trying new sports. Regularly I hike, run, swim, surf and ski. I belong to a gym and take yoga classes to stay limber and centered. So when a friend told me about S Factor, I was definitely curious. A combination of yoga, dance and erotic movement, the classes are both a work out and a way to, well, work stuff out.
Initially I was nervous and hesitant about the classes. Would I have to strip? Would other people see me? Do I know how to move THAT way? I walked into the intro class with knots in my stomach, however they soon dissolved. They have carefully crafted a program that makes students -- women only -- feel both safe and comfortable: the lights are low, there are no mirrors and the classes are small for one on one attention. And honestly, everyone is so engrossed in their own experience, they barely notice you.
The first hour of class is like a slow, sexy yoga class or track warm up. We do tons of stretching, including the classic cat/cow, quad stretch and spine circles. There are several grueling abdominal builders thrown in to build core strength as well. In S Factor, the moves are set to music that somewhat drives the pace and the visceral experience. The teacher is telling me to drag my knuckles on the cold wooden floor as I transition from my center to side stretch. She’s telling me to feel the texture of my clothes -- hmm, terrycloth does feel interesting -- and to move my hands across my thighs, stomach, and breasts (gasp).
During the warm up, I’m quieting my head. I’m battling to turn off the thinking, criticizing voice that is asking if I’m doing it right, if my stomach feels or looks fat or a series of other ridiculous, distracting thoughts. Much like yoga, however, if I focus on my breath and on positive thoughts about the moment, the voice quiets. This time is for me, and I am perfect as I am. That’s what my teacher keeps telling us anyway.
After the warm up, we move into the pole-dancing portion of class. Each week we learn a new trick and practice the old ones. This part can be difficult for various reasons. Each maneuver requires proper hand and body placement, momentum to move round the pole and coordination to land with some style. I’ve also noticed many of the women lack the arm strength to really climb and carry them round the pole. All those push ups in the warm up are an effort to change that, I suppose.
Last comes the dancing portion of the two-hour class. We learn a routine in level 1 and continue to do it through all the higher levels, albeit with more skill and finesse. Several women do it simultaneously, however each dancer faces a different direction and goes at her own pace. The moves are up for interpretation and pace is driven by how the music feels. I tend to dance way too fast. When I peek at the other women, I am always two to three moves ahead, so I spend a good portion of both the warm up and the dance chanting slowwww dowwwn.
The dance is actually really fun. It’s a series of moves that include a simulated frisk against the wall, a few twirls around a pole and a lap dance on a volunteer -- from class -- sitting in an over stuffed lazy boy chair in the corner. Students bring their own music, so each time I dance to a different song, which range from Motley Crue, to Nelly Furtado, to Lilly Allen. I was surprised to discover that the music I like to listen to isn’t necessarily the music I like to dance to in class. In everyday life I’m more of a Katy Perry/Feist fan, but in class I’m all about Nine Inch Nails and 50 Cent. They have the Grrrr factor I love!
S Factor is all about female empowerment. The classes see all body sizes and shapes, and we cheer each other on when we dance and try new pole moves. A few weeks into level 2, we also started wearing various outfits that reflect our personal style. As the levels increase, we learn how to strip the layers off. It’s fun and it adds to the fantasy factor.
Sessions last eight weeks, after which time students move to the next level. I’ve taken the
first three levels, each of which built my confidence a bit more. I also noticed a positive shift in my overall body image. I feel sexier and take that back to my partner.
I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in taking an introductory class. They have studios in several US cities, including NY, Chicago, LA and San Francisco. www.sfactor.com