Dance studio offers new-wave exercise

Florida A&M University students are participating in a new trend of fitness exercise offered by dance studios called pole dancing.

Pole dancing became popular in gentlemen’s clubs, according to Studio Verve Web site. The site said the art of pole dancing began hundreds of years ago in India as a sport called Mallakhamb.

Mallakhamb translated means pole gymnast. The Web site also said the sport was designed to help wrestlers and other athletes build endurance and strength.

Both men and women took part in the sport, as well as children as young as six.

Pole dancing is now available to women in Tallahassee, and it can be experienced five days a week at Art of the Catwalk Dance Studio.

Marion Shaffer, owner of Art of the Catwalk Dance Studio, said women of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels are encouraged to attend classes. 

“One of our first clients was my most dramatic body change. She dropped 17 percent body fat in three months of attending our classes,” Shaffer said. “She worked out here several times a week mostly doing pole and after three months she completely changed her body composition.”

Shaffer said that several other clients have lost between 18-20 lbs in one month but those results were not typical. 

It all depends on how hard you want to make a change.

Shaffer said a typical pole dancing class begins with the instructor warming everyone up by doing some abdominal work and stretching to get blood pumping.

Then the instructor will get everyone started learning some basic pole techniques.

The instructor said in the upper level classes, students will learn to slide on the pole upside down, and that is where the lower body, lower abs and back will really come into play.

Shaffer said this form of exercise has been proven to work out the abs and core, as well as strengthen the upper and lower body to allow clients to tone and lose weight.

Brittney Cobb, 22, a sophomore pharmacy student from Memphis, said because she is a ballet dancer she did not expect pole dancing to be as difficult as it was.

“I didn’t expect it to be as strenuous as it was. I was sore for a couple of days afterwards,” Cobb said. “It works out a totally different set of muscles than I am used to using with traditional dance classes.”

Not only does pole dancing help individuals get in shape, but some people say pole dancing classes also boosts confidence.

“We have had several clients that have started here as shy ladies, never confident about their body size. Once they embraced their body and realized that they could have curves and show them off in a sexy way they became fitness fanatics,” Shaffer said. “This makes me so happy to help people that have always been intimidated about starting a fitness regimen.”

Courtney Burns, 21, a senior agricultural business student from Chicago, agreed with Shaffer.

“It’s good because it kills two birds with one stone. It allows girls to do something they enjoy while helping build confidence,” he said. “It also provides a healthy alternative to the normal exercise routines.”

Art of the Catwalk is located at 1018 N. Monroe Street. For more information on classes and schedules, visit