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Naughty Workout Good For The Bootie

June 26, 2008

By Maryellen Fillo, The Hartford Courant, Conn.

Jun. 26–Exoticize? Or maybe bump-and-grinderobics. No matter what you call it, putting the XXX in exercise has its benefits.

From California to Connecticut, lap-dance moves once designed for gentlemen’s clubs have taken on a new life as a women-only way to move as if no one were watching. And, as an added benefit, lap dancing gives those always needy leg and ab muscles a workout they are sure to remember the day after.

Core Studio, a Plainville exercise studio, has parlayed a single lap-dancing class into a monthly gathering for 25 women, from twentysomething to seventysomething, who can’t wait to get out of the house and under the strobe lights, where they can be not so nice in a perfectly appropriate way.

“I’m 48; I feel like 18,” said Linda Brierty, sporting turquoise chandelier earrings and a short white skirt — not your typical exercise-class apparel — as she got ready for her first try at the fitness lap-dance class.

“This program is out of the box,” said Brierty, of New York City, who came with girlfriend, Lisa Geissler of Farmington. “You can’t find anything like this in the city.”

Under the tutelage of studio owners Jenn Miller and Joy Perugini, the session opens with a champagne toast and themed goody bags that include body glitter and lip gloss for everyone — just to set the mood. A range of body types fills the room, but all agree they look pretty good, thanks to forgiving strobe lights that spotlight the two owners as they demonstrate the night’s routine.

The only prop, other than some sexy attitude, is a folding chair. A playlist of 23 songs — like Eminem’s “Shake That,” Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body,” Beyonce’s “Naughty Girls,” Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” — provides the down-and-dirty music for the choreographed dance.

“Who’s in your chair?” yells out Miller as women take turns sauntering up to one of the empty chairs to practice each new segment of the routine. “Work it, ladies; be a naughty girl” is the battle cry as dancers encourage each other while simultaneously trying to channel the likes of Jennifer Beals’ character in “Flashdance” or Jamie Lee Curtis’ housewife-gone-wild in “True Lies” to get the moves just right.

“My husband thinks it’s a riot that I’m here,” said Linda Kennedy of Avon, who has been married for 22 years and is taking the class for the first time. “I guess we’ll find out when I get home if he is into it.”

But don’t think this is only about working on the sensual side. After two hours of learning and relearning the three-minute dance, you barely notice that you have given your body a serious workout until it is too late to dial it back a bit.

Perugini and Miller are dead serious about providing clients with a good exercise option at their studio, which also offers more traditional classes, such as spinning and Pilates. But when they offered a one-time-only lap-dancing class, it proved so popular that they now offer it once a month, with each class filled to capacity.

“I think this gives women a safe environment to let go of inhibitions and find their sexy side,” said Perugini. “Learning to lap dance or pole dance is more socially accepted, and women are more empowered these days to try it. And there is the exercise benefit to it. It’s not traditional cardio work, but it is a great workout for hips, legs, abs and balance. You sweat, you have fun and you free your mind of all the junk that goes on all day.”

For 37-year-old Robin Condon of Farmington, who is single, the class is not only an interesting workout alternative to the classes she usually takes but a way to go out, dance and let loose without having to deal with the bar scene.

“I’ve gone to all three of the classes so far and love it,” said Condon. “It’s a way to be sexy and free and liberated.”

The next fitness lap-dancing classes at Core Studio, 32 Whiting St., Plainville, are July 18 and Aug.22. Cost is $35 for nonmembers and $20 for members. Information: 860.793.6683 or corefitnessinc.com.

Contact MaryEllen Fillo at fillo@courant.com.

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