Vaudeville may be dead, but burlesque is alive and well at the gym.
Young women are strip-teasing, pole dancing and stretching sultrily in group fitness classes that seem to boost their sexual self-confidence as much as their cardio.
“These people are schoolteachers, secretaries, college kids,” said Donna Cyrus of the Crunch chain of health clubs, who has been programming sexy workouts since she was inspired by Demi Moore’s performance in the 1996 movie Striptease.
“It’s a great workout. My generation did a lot of aerobics,” said Cyrus, who is in her 40s. “By the time the 20-somethings started going to the gym they were looking for different ways to get fit. They’re looking to express their sexuality.”
So Crunch obliges with classes like “Strip Bar,” “Belly Moves” and “Sexy Stretch” that Cyrus says provide fierce workouts and build self-esteem as efficiently as they burn calories.
“Pole dancing is about upper body strength,” Cyrus said. “They have to hold their body weight. Then they practice over and over to make the activity safe before going on to the next movement.”
There is also the male factor. “Our studios are glass-enclosed so on any given night men are outside looking in. It’s a very good meet-and-greet that’s certainly helped our membership.”