Pole Dancing For Fitness

Claiming that strippers are giving metallic poles a bad name, fully clothed women pole dance for exercise, and to connect with their inner woman

Yu Shing Ting
Friday - February 24, 2006
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The latest health craze to sweep the nation has finally arrived in the Islands. Pole dancing for fitness, a class where women (and women only) are able to express their feminine spirit through sumptuous stretches and sexy strength-building moves with the use of a dancer’s pole, is not only empowering but a great workout too.

“It’s a mind, body and soul activity, amplified and invigorated by joining with other women who are each on their own personal journey home to their core self,” explains Ilana Fernandez, founder of Fit For a Goddess which offers the pole dancing class.

“We have students of all ages, from every walk of life, and every size. Our youngest are in their early 20s and our oldest was 68. We even had an 18 or 19-year-old who came with her mother. And another student’s mother sent her to help build her self-confidence.”

While most people may associate a pole dance with strippers, there’s no nudity here. And men are not allowed.

Betty Woitovitch and instructor Ilana Fernandez
Betty Woitovitch and instructor Ilana

The class, which meets once a week for eight weeks, begins with a warmup of slow stretches and exercises, including a few sexy moves such as sensual butt circles and hip swings.

There’s also a lesson on how to walk, crawl and move with confidence.

Throughout the warm up, students are encouraged to touch their bodies, letting their hands roam, exploring and appreciating every bump and curve found.

Then it’s to the pole, where the real fun begins. Women of all ages and sizes take turns prancing around the pole, and before you know it, they’re flying in the air, spinning forward and backwards, with pauses in between for a little playful tease. Throughout the series, students learn different pole moves, and in the end are able to perform a complete routine.

Tracy Lewis goes upside-down. Above left, instructor-in-training Tracy Lewis and the author.
Tracy Lewis goes upside-down. Above
left, instructor-in-training Tracy Lewis
and the author.

“It’s fun. It’s great exercise. It makes you feel sexy. And what woman doesn’t want to feel sexy,” says 34-year-old Tracy Lewis, who originally joined the class as a student and is now an instructor in training. “My boyfriend has never seen me dance yet. I will eventually show him, but I’m building to that. I want to feel right where I want to be. And I want to knock his socks off. And maybe knock some other things off too.”

Fernandez, a full-time psychologist, discovered pole dancing after a stranger approached her about it after a Latin dance class.

“She asked me where I learned to move the way I did,” recalls Fernandez. “I was flattered, but I said I just move the way I move. Then she said that she had a video of this thing that’s going on in the Mainland and that a lot of women want to try it but no one’s teaching it here.

“So, I watched the video and everybody that was interviewed had a fascinating background. One was a breast cancer survivor and she wanted to get in touch with her body again. Another woman, who didn’t say these words exactly, but clearly was a rape survivor and had bad experiences in terms of her sensuality and sex.

Everybody had this intense story, and I’m thinking, I’m a psychologist and I love to dance. I’m made for this.”

In six months, Fit For a Goddess has grown from one class a week to five classes a week. Women find interest in the class for different reasons, but all leave with more than just a workout.

“I like that it’s very relaxing after a hard day’s work,” says “Jane,” a 39-year-old mother of two, who learned about the class from a friend. “I always leave here in a great mood. Also, it’s really made me re-engage with my husband. We weren’t having any problems, but it’s enhanced our intimate relationship. He likes it.”

Instructor-in-training Tahiti Fernandez leads a student in the crawl
Instructor-in-training Tahiti
Fernandez leads a student in the crawl

For “Sally,” a 35-year old mother of two, Fit For A Goddess not only helped her to feel sexy, but she believes it may have also saved her marriage.

“I heard about the class from TV,” she says. “I like to dance and it mentioned something about feeling sexy and sensual, and that’s something I lost. I’m married - we make 12 years in April - but we almost didn’t make it to 11 years. I just didn’t have the sex drive, and I didn’t feel sexy.

“After some classes, my husband was interested in what I learned so I showed him, and it made me feel good because he was excited and it made me feel good. The classes have made me feel like a woman instead of Mom. It made me feel more sexy. And I enjoy the support of the other women in the class.”

After participating in one class myself, I can attest to the power of liberating one’s innate sensuality and playfulness. Suddenly, you’re not afraid to show off your feminine body and spirit. You glorify it. As one student told me, it encourages you to embrace your womanhood. Oh, and spinning around a pole can be fun too. Remember when you were in elementary school?

“Poles are in every playground and all of a sudden strippers own them? No, they don’t,” says Fernandez about the ties between strippers and poles. “They’re fun. My grandkids play on my pole in the middle of my living room. They’re not the property of strippers.

“The fact that both sensuality and poles have been taken into more taboo arenas has contributed to the intrigue and fantasy factor. But fantasies can contribute very positively to healthy relationships with the self and others.”

Fit For a Goddess holds classes at the Kailua Movement Studio on Mondays and Thursdays, and at Yoga Hawaii in Kaimuki on Saturdays. The eight-week program is $140. An introductory class is also available for $15 for those who want to sample the program before signing up for the complete series.

Private and semi-private classes are also available, as well as parties. For more information, visit www.fit4agoddesshi.com or call 262-6979.

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