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Cardio Striptease: Take It Off

Strip aerobics classes offer fun and fitness while you shed pounds

Lap Dancing Instead of Running Laps

Kelley is not the only one offering instruction for women who prefer lap dancing to running laps. Actress Carmen Electra has an "Aerobic Striptease" DVD out, and, for those who prefer a group setting, Crunch Fitness offers cardio striptease classes.

"I would characterize it as a low-intensity cardio workout," Rob Glick, group fitness director at Crunch Fitness in Mission Viejo, Calif., tells WebMD. "One of the missions of Crunch is to give people who are burned out on working out or who have not worked out in the past a fun and funny experience."

People come dressed for action at Crunch, although removal of a lot of clothing is not encouraged. "Some wear normal fitness clothes," Glick says. "Some wear layers so they can remove some. And some wear costumes and approach it in a 'themey,' campy way."

At Crunch, the pole-dancing class is a separate program.

"The women end up in a hip hop circle, dancing," Glick says. "They feel sexy and great."

Kelley says Crunch's program is nothing like her classes. "It's completely, completely different from what I do," she says. "It's more like a Laker Girl dance thing. Mine is really, really slow and sensual."

All Shapes and Sizes

Are all stripping students Demi Moores? "Oh, I have had women of every shape and size," Kelley says. "Even breast-cancer warriors who are absolutely ragged from battle. You can't believe the high everyone enjoys. Women have told me this has changed their lives, saved their marriages --or even showed them they were in the wrong marriage."

"This is not for hot young babes," she insists. "In fact, women with more size move unbelievably well. In fact, I tell the small women: "'Take up more space!" Expand!"

"When you do this you fall in love with yourself, no matter what size you are."

They may boost your self-esteem, but can stripping classes really bump up your fitness level? That depends on the class -- and on you.

Kelli Calabrese, MS, an exercise physiologist and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, advises checking your heart rate during a class to see how hard you're working. To determine your so-called "maximum heart rate," subtract your age from 220. (If you're 40, for example, your maximum heart rate is 180.)

For a beginner, she tells WebMD, cardio benefits are achieved when you reach 55% of your maximum. This can be done in intense bursts, rather than over a sustained period.

"I would say cardio striptease is pretty good for endurance and cardiovascular," she says, "but I would wear a heart rate monitor for a session and see what it's doing for you. You probably need to supplement it -- and add strength training.

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