Reaching For The Brass Pole

Pole Vixens Xtreme Takes Exercise To New Heights

Light streams in from the massive, industrial windows, highlighting the pastel purple and pinks of the décor, glinting off of the poles that shoot down from the ceiling, like metallic stalactites that securely anchored themselves into the floor. The light also plays off the forms of several women, glinting off of their perspiring bodies as they enthusiastically work out to a high energy deep bass groove. Laughter and congratulatory catcalls can be heard over the music as Geneva Duncan’s voice is heard over the cacophony, instructing her class in a cajoling tone, demonstrating to all what the next moves will be and what she hopes to achieve with them. In between classes, I was able to talk to Geneva Duncan, owner and instructor for Pole Vixens Xtreme. The first thing I wanted to know was how she hoped to overcome the common perceptions that immediately leap to people’s minds when their hear the words, “pole dancing.” To my surprise, instead of completely distancing herself from the more tawdry aspects associated with strip clubs, Geneva has chosen to embrace some of those features and mold them into her own vision, thereby taking away any of the negative connotations that some may have.

Geneva Duncan and Crystal Sullivan ~Photo by Brooke Medlin

“My goal is to actually incorporate some of the stripper moves and make it more elegant. With that in mind, we have created a whole workout regime while keeping the sensuality of the movements.” Geneva went on to outline her reasoning for incorporating the pole into her exercise routine. “Every woman, I don’t care who you are, has a yearning to be a sensual creature. We, as women, always criticize ourselves and we are not 100% confident or comfortable with our looks. Out goal is to get you out of that mode and to try something different and something out of the ordinary.”

Geneva went on to address the perceptions of pole dancing by stating;

“A lot of men get the idea twisted. I can’t say all men, but a lot of men. When you say ‘pole dancing’ they automatically think strippers, go-go dancing and women hustling for money.” To counteract that, Geneva explains that, “What we’re trying to do is to change the mind frame of people who think like that, so you can feel comfortable sending your wife to a class because it can only enhance your intimacy. It can also enhance her figure and enhance her confidence level and it can bring back a spark to your relationship.”

I asked Geborah, Pole Vixen’s Zumba instructor, the same question about overcoming people’s perception of the poles.

“Well, the only way that people can get over the controversial idea of pole fitness is to come through here and see what we are doing. I think it is definitely important for people to get their knowledge firsthand as far as what pole fitness is all about.” Geborah add rather succinctly that, “We do not strip in here…absolutely not. We are very classy and tasteful women who love to work out and feel sexy while we are doing it.”

Mardi McNeil ~Photo by Frank Coleman

As the group got ready for Geborah’s Zumba class, I spoke with Mardi McNeil, Pole Vixen’s business manager about how they were marketing the programs, who was their target demographics and what were some of the classes that are available and what kind of classes may be available in the future.

“Right now, most of our marketing is online, through Facebook and our website as well as by word of mouth. We have posted some flyers and signs, like for this event and we just shot a commercial today. Our target audience is every woman of every size, every fitness level and from ages eighteen to ninety-nine.” As for the classes available, Mardi said, “Well, right now we have the Polercise  classes, which is basically the pole fitness which incorporates the use of the pole predominantly. We also have Zumba classes with Geborah as well as target classes, like the Absolutely Abs class and the Booty-Max class, that target a specific area that someone might want to work on. We’ve got some other things in the works, like getting some punching bags in for kickboxing and we are looking at potentially adding yoga and massage therapy classes.”

I watched as Lady Geborah led the ladies through a distinctive Zumba routine, interspersed with standard stretching exercises, repetitive movement exercises and gently laced with Latin and jazz dance movements. The women were enjoying themselves so much, it didn’t seem like a workout at all…except for the perspiration and the satisfied exhaustion afterwards. Was Zumba a definitive workout?

Geborah ~Photo by Brooke Medlin

“Oh yes, definitely! The Zumba class format combines both slow and fast rhythms that tone and sculpt the body. You can get a full body workout when you’re doing Zumba. You can burn from 250 up to 1,000 calories based on how hard you want to work out in a Zumba class. It will help you tone your muscles as well as help you lose inches. Zumba is the new way to work out.” Geborah said, emphatically.

It seemed as if I was witnessing a choreograph dance routine rather than a regular workout. It looked effortless and sensual, unlike other Zumba classes that looked very rigid and brittle. It just didn’t appear to be what one would envision when one would picture a regular gym workout.

“No, it doesn’t and that is one of the reasons that I love it because, being that I love dance and fitness and dance is the easiest way for me to exercise.” Geborah said, with a laugh. “I love to share the opportunity for other people to dance as well as work out and also to learn different techniques while they’re dancing and get a good workout. You gain so much when you get involved in Zumba fitness.”

I asked Geborah about her conspicuous incorporation of dance rhythms and movements into her program and the sensual eroticism that it conveys.

“It does. I mean, as a lady, you love to move and shake your hips. It’s a natural thing for a woman to move her body gracefully and to move her hips. There is a sensual nature to it.” As for the dance movements, Geborah said, “With Zumba, you can do Latin dance moves, ranging from Salsa to the rumba. You can do hip-hop dance moves,  but I like to incorporate jazz as well as some more modern movements as well. I’m all about movement.”

Geneva Duncan and Crystal Sullivan ~Photo by Brooke Medlin

During a break, I was able to speak to one of students, Crystal Sullivan, to ask her why she had picked Pole Vixens Xtreme.

“I picked Pole Vixens Xtreme, first of all, because of the safe environment: I feel comfortable there. It’s just a very warm and welcoming atmosphere because I am kind of self conscious about my body…” After a pause, Crystal continued by saying, “I have issues with how big I have gotten, but here, I feel comfortable. Here, I’m not embarrassed. I feel open and free to actually work out so that it will really benefit my body versus going to a gym and not giving it 100% because I’m kind of worrying about what the person next to me is thinking. I guess, just overall, I love the comfort level here at Pole Vixens.”

I wondered if there was a ‘feel good’ aspect to the classes, over and above the general yearning to stay fit.

“Oh absolutely! Working out here doesn’t become tedious because there is always laughter, the friendship, the camaraderie…it’s just like hanging out with your girlfriends.” Crustal added that, “We mentally encourage one another, we emotionally encourage one another and we support each other no matter what size, shape, complexion or age.”

After the classes were over, Geneva and I got to sit down for a moment. The first thing I needed was for her to define some of the things about her unique approach to exercise, such as what to call it.

“Polercise. That is a signature type of exercise routine that was created by my mother, Miss Sue, and that is a signature type of class that also goes along with our other signature classes.” Geneva explained further that, “Polercise is like full fledged cardio, with a warm up and a cool down at the end, but the main thing about Polercise is that we are doing a full cardio workout incorporating the poles. It’s a lot of swings on the pole and stances utilizing the pole. We’ve got 1,200 square feet to workout in, so we’re definitely going to get that cardio pumping.”

Geneva Duncan and Denise Brookshire ~Photo by Brooke Medlin

From what I had seen, it also looked as if utilizing the poles also created a demanding muscular workout as well, using kinetic energy as well as adaptations of some familiar isometric exercises.

“Oh yes, we are definitely training your muscles, and here’s the thing: Every class is different! It’s muscle confusion to the max. We confuse the muscles by having you do things one way and then switch it up or energize it another way.” I had to have Geneva explain to me what ‘muscle confusion’ was. “Muscle confusion, to those that don’t know the term, are when your muscles are getting worked one way one day, and then the next day, it’s totally different. If you do the same routines and work the same muscles, you end up on a plateau and your body ends up conditioned to it and the exercise stops being relevant. So, we need to confuse your muscles where they are getting stretched in every way possible.”

Although there are several layers to this, albeit the obvious one being the fitness aspect and the running undercurrent of sensuality that the classes imbue, there is one thing that seems to sum up the differences between Pole Vixens and other larger box-type gyms: a unified camaraderie. Crystal seemed to encapsulate that best when she said;

“We are literally all in this together. It’s not a workout because you’re hanging out with your friends. That’s exactly what it feels like.”

To check out all Pole Vixens Xtreme has to offer, go online to their website.

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avatar About J.T. Ryder

"There is nothing that can be said about me that hasn't already been said about Britney Spears' mommy parts: I'm bald, scarred and crave an inordinate amount of attention. I have no clue what to say about myself. There are times when I would write something humorous, wherein you would have little or no idea about my motives or personality, and yet there are other times when I would write something so personal that you may turn away. I really have no illusions, personally, as to the type of person I am, but no one person who has ever met me has seen more than a few facets at any one given time, therefore, opinions differ greatly as to who I actually am."