Western teases its way to fitness

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Burlesque performer

A good striptease requires a tight butt, a sultry stare and a lot of practice. Where better to learn the art of “strippercise” than Campus Recreation?

New this year to the drop-in class program is burlesque, a mix of cardio, muscle strengthening, and dancing guaranteed to bring out your inner Carmen Electra.

Campus Rec coordinator of Fitness and Wellness, Michelle Harvey, says the class has already caught on with students.

“Sixty people showed up for the first class and we were completely full,” Harvey says. “This kind of class has been requested for a while now and it’s one of those current popular fitness fads that we decided to try.”

She describes the class as a “new fitness form that twists and winds your way to tight abs and toned glutes.” The class also enables participants to “explore new ways to move your body and let loose, while getting a workout.”

The strengthening class works arms, abs, and of course, the booty. All Campus Rec instructors have endured vigorous burlesque training over the summer with a local professional in preparation.

With the popularity of The Pussycat Dolls and Dita Von Teese, burlesque has come a long way from the theatrical entertainment of 19th century Vaudeville. The popular burlesque shows of the era soon evolved into stripteases and modern burlesque varieties like cabaret, comedy skits and elaborate costumed shows.

Popular fitness programs involving pole dancing, cardio-striptease and erotic dancing have popped up in fitness facilities across the country. However, don’t expect a room of stripping students when you show up to the Tuesday afternoon session.

“It’s a great alternative to a regular class,” Harvey says. “It’s a lot of fun if you want to try something new and different. We want students to be physically active and to get them moving. We’re trying to get different types of fitness to accommodate everyone.”

Those hesitant about shimmying their way into shape need not worry. There are no giant martini glasses to maneuver around and clothing, of course, stays on. Early burlesque was about comedy and titillating the audience, not just stripping.

Most importantly, the class involves fitness exercises. The booty-shaking and seductive touching is entirely optional.

“Some people may feel awkward about the class, but we also offer 70 other classes a week,” Harvey said. “New choreography is thought up every week, so every burlesque class will involve a new routine and exercises.

Last week’s class involved free-style dancing to sexy music, stretching exercises, squats and thigh workouts, aimed to get your body in shape for a sexy night.

If this is a class you would like to try, aim to get to the studio early, as Harvey says the recommended maximum capacity for the studio is 40 people.

Burlesque Class runs every Tuesday at 4:05pm at the Campus Recreation aerobics studio.

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