October 15, 2006

Bringing Sexy Back

I did something this weekend I’ve never done before. I caressed my own butt in a public setting. But before you go thinking I’m turning into some sort of pervert, let me explain. I wasn’t doing it alone. In fact, I was with a group of about 20 other women. And we were being instructed to as a way to better get into our routine for cardio striptease. That’s right, Teri Hatcher is a fan of cardio striptease, and now, so am I.

I had heard of cardio strip tease long before I attended my first class on Saturday. I’m pretty sure it was all the rage in New York and LA about a year ago. Well it has trickled to the Midwest and now gyms and dance studios across Chicago teach cardio striptease.

The idea of going was brought up a few weeks ago on one of my girls’ nights out, and I thought it was a fantastic idea. I figured even if the class was not that aerobic, I’d get a good laugh at my friends and me strutting our stuff like the pros. Well this past week, one of my co-workers mentioned she signed up for the class and convinced another co-worker and me to join her Saturday. Although, I admit it was not very hard to convince me to go.

I have found most women’s general reaction to strip teasing classes is first mild shock followed immediately by curiosity. This type of class plays on a woman’s desire to be seen in a different light - one we all want to be seen in from time to time. As women, we want it all. We want to be masters in the boardroom as well as the bedroom. It is the struggle we all have with the Madonna/whore complex. As much as men want us to be able to fulfill both rolls, we want to be able to do it. Ludacris said it best in one of the most popular hits of 2004: “I want a lady in the street, but a freak in the bed!”

While in the boardroom, women can exert power to equalize ourselves with our male counterparts, the bedroom holds an entirely different appeal. The bedroom is a place where we can hold all the power. By the bevy of advertisements that feature half- to more-than-half naked women for seemingly no reason, it is overly apparent that when it comes to sexuality, women have the upper hand - one that it seems men are content to let us hold for quite some time. So while in the boardroom, we can be equals by way of hard work and determination, in the bedroom we’re in control with seemingly no effort whatsoever. Hence, the appeal of cardio striptease - it allows for women of any walk of life to indulge in their whore side while doing the respectable Madonna-like thing of taking a class.

And let me tell you, women do go.

When I stepped into the class with my coworker, we firmly planted ourselves in the back row amidst the room of twenty or so women. Our instructor arrived shortly thereafter - a blond twenty-something with heavy eyeliner and a saucy saunter. If anyone was going to teach a room of women clad in tennis shoes and t-shirts how to move like strippers, it was her.

She put on the music and our ears were flooded with thumping beats I’m more accustomed to hearing later in the day than noon on a Saturday. We began with some warm-up moves, which had this not been cardio striptease I am certain would have had a little less hip gyration. Once we warmed up though, the moves turned into a series of arm exercises, sit-ups and butt crunches. It now has me understanding why it is strippers are in such good shape. It lasted longer than I thought it would, and I had to pause a few times to rest my aching muscles. And today our warm-up has me looking more like 80-year-old lady than a stripper. I’ve said “O wow o wow ow” every time I’ve stood up and then proceeded to shuffle across the room like I needed a walker.

When we ended strength training, we began the dancing part of the class. The instructor slowly walked us through an 8-count routine. It wasn’t a terribly hard routine and didn’t really feel all that stripper-ish. It’s a routine that could have been a part of any hip-hop class, it’s just that we were instructed to bite our fingers playfully, toss our hair and rub our butts periodically. My co-worker and I giggled a lot at first.

Once we gone through our routine a few times without music, our instructor cranked up some bass-filled tunes again. She played about five songs, each a little faster than the last. As each song played, I got the hang of our routine a little better. I love dancing, but I’m used to more of a free-form manner. Having to keep time and remember steps is a little more challenging for me. By the last song though, I resolved myself to stop watching the instructor and just to do the steps. It worked and by the last time around, I felt like I finally got it - ass rubbing and all.

There certainly was something freeing about getting so in tune with my feminine wiles - even if it was only for about 30 minutes. When the class ended, I looked at myself in the mirror. I was drenched in sweat and laughing. (Note - this is far different than I feel after most other workouts.) I can honestly say it was one of the best workouts I’ve had in a while. I also honestly can say, I will go back.

Lesson learned: You can bring “Sexy Back” at noon on a Saturday.

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