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Workout Wednesday: Pole Dancing

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Leigh Ann Orsi pole dances in her studio

Let's be honest - everyone loves a stripper. And ever since 2001, when Jeff Costa launched Cardio Striptease at Crunch New York, it seems like people don't want to stop at just loving them - people want to be them.

From the MILF next door, to your best friend who's about to get married, to Lindsay Lohan, women of all ages, sizes and level of celebrity can't seem to rip their clothes off and hop up on poles fast enough.

So, now you want to join in the fun too, but you find yourself wading aimlessly through a sea of tacky ads that all promise to teach you how to unleash your inner sexy tiger. It's tricky to pick one! Because the last thing you want is someone who doesn't know what they're doing getting your back as you dangle for the first time off a pole 10 feet in the air.

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Of course, there's always the OG of L.A. strip aerobics classes, S Factor, and if you happen to like getting ripped off by bougie snobs, then you'll find yourself right at home there*. But if that's not your cup of tea, there are many more - and better - to pick from. And one of the best is BeSpun on La Brea and Sunset in Hollywood.

BeSpun offers Pole Dance, Yoga and Spinning classes. The studio is cute, bright and centrally located, owned and operated by acrobat and former dancer Leigh Ann Orsi. Fun and upbeat, Orsi is the kind of sexy you'd want from a pole dance instructor without being intimidating. She's also very encouraging to her students, who range in skill level from never having confronted a pole before to veterans of the adult industry.

"My program is different in that everyone works at their own level," she says. "And you can come in and out, take one class, five, one hundred."

BeSpun's Pole Workout classes combine students of all levels, so greener dancers can learn from the more advanced, and advanced students can work on individual tricks and moves at their own pace.

Newbies first learn the basic slithery floor moves and a few pole tricks. They're also taught how to move s-l-o-w-l-y...which is the most important dancing lesson any stripper - or aspiring stripper - will ever get.

As far as flipping upside down and getting the hang of more advanced tricks, "courage is actually the most important thing," says Orsi. Courage, yes - and stamina. The advanced class, a one-hour pole workout, is a good, solid reminder why this kind of class is such good exercise: because dancing onstage for one song might make you gently perspire, but it's got nothing on climbing up and down a pole for a full hour.

BeSpun also offers private lessons, bachelorette parties, and workshops that culminate in two performances a year.

Overall Workout: Great. Works new muscles, all over the body.
Hobby-Developing Potential: Addictive.
Next-Day Pain: High, especially for first-timers. You will be bruised in places you never knew could bruise.
Cost: Single class: $30
Monthly membership (includes unlimited classes and practice time): $165
6-week workshop: $199

Call for prices of bachelorette parties and private lessons

1636 N La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

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323-463-SPUN (7786)

*S Factor has the unique distinction of trying to convince their clients that the way they teach pole dancing is some kind of holy grail. Here's a news flash: strippers learn pole tricks drunk and at work. It's challenging and it takes practice, but it's not rocket science. S Factor would also like you to believe that what they do somehow is different from what strippers do (ironically anti-sex worker), and that it can only be learned in incremental levels that cost $440 each. Don't believe the hype.

Video courtesy of Leigh Ann Orsi

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