Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

In Scranton, Pole Dancing for the Non-Dancer

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

In Scranton, Pole Dancing for the Non-Dancer

Article excerpt

SCRANTON, Pa. -- People hear the words "pole dance" and tend to envision women performing acrobatic feats in the altogether in darkly lit strip clubs.

But in recent years, the pole dance concept has been turned on its head, so to speak, converted into a legitimate fitness routine spawning countless Internet videos, a competitive circuit and celebrity practitioners like Eva Longoria, Cindy Crawford and Kate Hudson.

It took some time, but the craze has finally made its way to Northeast Pennsylvania.

Six months ago, Exeter resident Lucy Howard opened Pole Dance Fitness, a Scranton studio devoted entirely to the exercise routine.

The female-only studio has classes throughout the week, broken up into five levels of expertise.

The concept seems to be catching on. About 300 women are on Ms. Howard's mailing list. Of those, around 50 could be considered regulars, she said.

"I'm excited," said Ms. Howard, 31, a certified pole dance fitness instructor who also teaches yoga and pilates at local studios. "Now, there is a pole community that has grown from this space. And it's a really positive community of women that really care about each other, support one another and encourage each other through challenges."

Practitioners of pole dance fitness perform dozens of different types of spins, climbing movements, inversions, holds and poses inspired by gymnastics, acrobatics, various forms of dance and resistance training. It works every muscle of the body while building balance, agility and core strength.

"It's great for toning, but it kind of tones you up and sculpts you in a different way," Ms. Howard said. "With this, you still stay curvy. It's very feminine."

Ms. Howard was first introduced to pole dance fitness about 10 years ago in her native London. Having been a longtime gymnast, she took easily to the concept.

She also found it more creatively liberating than the types of dance she had studied, like ballet.

"Out of everything that I have tried and experimented with, pole was the one thing I stuck with," she said. …

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