Enjoying the sensual dance of a striptease artist, you're not likely to think, What a fabulous cardiovascular and toning workout! But the folks at Crunch gyms do. With Cardio Striptease, they've blended flirty gestures, sexy gyrations, graceful body caresses, and a low-impact exercise routine designed to elicit the bold and beautiful in all of us, regardless of age, sex, and body type.
"It's all about the attitude," says Crunch Miami instructor Tania Amthor, whose array of outfits includes a sparkly showgirl-style top and bikini bottom that she'll flash teasingly from a layer of less-provocative exercise apparel. "This is the kind of class that makes you happy," she explains. "It stimulates in ways to go out there and be sensual and sexy."
Drawing fitness buffs on both coasts, the class recently debuted at Crunch in Miami Beach. In the second-floor aerobics room, Amthor teaches with Sean Blay, a national aerobics champion and former erotic dancer. The two choreograph warm-ups and dance routines that combine their fitness expertise with playful ideas derived from racy sources such as Striptease and 9 1/2 Weeks. No cycles, stair steps, or boxing gloves here. Props include feathers, fluffy boas, slinky elbow-length gloves, and top hats. Clothing removal -- only down to the intimate layer -- is optional.
"It's a full-body workout," says Blay, noting the hour includes squats, lunges, and what he calls "erotic pushups." But exercise isn't the only benefit. The class is intended to boost self-esteem. "If you think, This class is not for me, then it definitely is," Blay insists. "It's not about how fat or how skinny you are. It's about you touching your body, realizing your body is you, and becoming more comfortable with the movement of your body."
It's also about dispelling notions that stripping is down and dirty. "I want them to be open and have fun and know that it's an art," Blay says. After class, advises the instructor, feel free to assign yourself some homework. "We want to make your behind-door fantasies become more real and more fun."