When a girlfriend asked me to join a group fitness class with her, I was a little unsure. First off, I’m not a member of any gym, and prefer to do my workouts in the comfort of my own home, where no one can see me huffing and puffing through yet another ‘Mari Windsor’ delight. Secondly, this class was no ordinary class, it was pole dancing. Angela explained to me very calmly that it was 45 minutes of a Pilates-type workout and then 45 minutes of dancing/pole routines. Ultimately I decided to throw caution to the wind and sign up – figuring the only thing I had to lose was an hour and a half one day a week and I would hopefully gain a little muscle tone and some good stories (as I am not the most graceful pole dancer).

Dr. Amy’s Pole Workout (formerly known as ‘Polateaz’) is held at Asante Fitness in Tahoe City. You don’t have to be a member of the gym to join her class and all you need is a pair of short shorts, a tank top and a hot pair of heels. I walked into class that first day, the other girls scurrying around fitting curtains over the windows and dragging out four gleaming poles and was a little apprehensive to say the least. Just before I lose my nerve, Dr. Amy struts in, and undergoes an amazing transformation from a minivan-driving mother-of-two chiropractor to a vixen goddess with four to six apt pupils hanging on her every spin.

Money paid and release forms signed – she takes a good look at each of us and her eyes fall directly to me. I am wearing a sports bra, baggy t-shirt and leggings, aka workout armor. Dr. Amy politely says to the whole class, ‘Today is the first class, I know we didn’t know what to expect so you are all dressed fine. But in order to spin and get good traction on the pole, we need tight fitting shorts and tank tops. We also need a sexy bra. No uniboob! We need to feel sexy, and sometimes a see-through bra and a thong under our clothes is what we need to uphold that inner fantasy.’ She goes on to tell us that if we don’t own a sexy bra, its high time we got one anyway – for our own good. Tension is immediately broken in class, and we go on to do one of the most difficult Pilates workouts I have ever undergone – goodbye Mari.

Dr. Amy Rosen has been teaching group fitness classes since 1995. After giving birth to her two children, she was looking for a way to get back in shape and noticed one of her girlfriends had a pole in her basement. Rosen borrowed the pole, bought all six pole dancing videos available and practiced every move she could. ‘I was watching all the videos, and loved Sheila Kelley’s format and it seemed really easy to teach,’ says Rosen. ‘It started off with slow movement, letting women get to know their body, which was something I liked.’ A crazy four months later and Rosen’s first class debuted at Asante in April 2007. ‘In the beginning I was learning with my students, we would teach one spin a class and just get stronger together. All the sudden my students wanted to start wearing six inch heels and learn dances. I had never thought of myself as a choreographer, it just evolved.’

Rosen has had students from size two to size 16, and the class has changed to accommodate girls of all sizes because the point is to teach you to move your body naturally, unapologetically and freely, no matter the size. The intense workout that begins each session is designed to condition the body for climbing the pole and practicing various spins with a focus on safety. The class also teaches you how to get to know your body a little better, and how to use it to your advantage. In the first class we not only learned a few spins, we also learned a seductive walk and parts of a chair dance. My rhythm-challenged body coupled with my inability to envision myself as a sex goddess prompted many constructive criticisms thrown my way reminding me that yes, my hands should be roaming seductively over my body and not stiff straight sticks at my sides, and no, my face should not be frozen in a look that could be misconstrued as someone with a horrible belly ache. Soon (as in the third class) I learned to let down my guard a bit and really give into my inner vixen. I blame my modest Midwest upbringing as the reason I was unable to spin with the grace of fellow classmates.

By class six I was showing up to class with a new bounce in my step, not due to my newly acquired six inch heels described as ‘Ice Python’ on the box. I had learned a multitude of spins, from the beginner’s Pixie to the advanced upside-down Snake Dive. My body felt stronger and I looked forward to the sense of togetherness in every class. It’s that feeling of sisterhood that brings girls back for more classes. ‘Everyone is in the same boat in class, learning together. I love the support and camaraderie. Everyone is constantly complimenting each other when moves are learned and perfected,’ Rosen exclaims.

The perfect thing about Rosen’s summer session is that students can start any time. Changing her previous format of a continuous session, each class is its own class. Each week will be the same as in how it starts with a workout, but the dance part is a single dance or series of moves that will be specific to that session, so students won’t feel like the missed anything if they miss a week of classes. Rosen also encourages drop ins, and is offering a free first session for students who have never experienced a class, but she laughs, ‘Once you see these girls spinning around on the poles, you are going to want to do it too.’

If you can’t commit to regular classes, Rosen also offers two DVDs for home workouts as well as private Girls Night Out and Bachelorette parties. ‘The parties run for two hours, we take photos, have champagne, light snacks and learn some moves. It’s a blast,’ explains Rosen.

With four different businesses running between her classes, private parties, managing her Web site and DVD sales and practicing chiropractics, Rosen jokes she is on the verge of craziness, ‘My husband really supports me and my kids are great. It has been a fun, fun ride, that’s for sure.’

If you feel like finding your own inner vixen or practicing your dance moves, join Rosen at Asante Fitness this summer; summer session began May 26 and runs through July 31. Class times include Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., Wednesday 5:30 to 7 p.m. and Fridays 5:30 to 7 p.m., all levels welcome at all classes.

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