Pole de Leon
"You leave the first class laughing and smiling," says Raymor. "After the second class, I wanted to vomit" because of the physical demands. Welch says no one has ever quit, but it's an intense workout: "It takes a lot of strength to hold your own body weight up while twirling around a pole, climbing it, or hanging upside down on it."
Though Welch says a man wouldn't be turned away, so far all her students have been women. To her knowledge, none has taken the class at the request of a spouse or boyfriend, though several have confided they're doing it as "gift" to a partner. But the obvious beneficiaries are the women themselves: Raymor, thirty-seven and a mother of two, Burt (thirty-five), Welch (forty-three), and the anonymous prof (forty-four) all look ten years younger.
A taxing workout for the upper body, core, and lungs, the class is as much about boosting self-confidence as shrinking waistlines. "There's a psychological and a physical piece that go into it, and [Welch] is just really good with it," says Dupuis. "She wants you to feel really comfortable with your body, feel sexy, and not be ashamed of being sexy."
Freep.com recently published a story about residents of Orion Township trying to shut down a pole-dancing studio because they considered the classes indecent. But Vie's had no such complaints. "It's not exhibitionist," says the professor. "There's no audience. You keep your clothes on. The mirror is the audience."
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