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Cardio Striptease: Take It Off

Strip aerobics classes offer fun and fitness while you shed pounds
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"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.

"If you have the courage, go for it," Calabrese says. "Hula and belly dancing are also fun. These are a fun piece of the pie but need to be supplemented."

As for those six-inch heels? "I would not," she says with a smile, "think of those for a workout."

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Reviewed on January 23, 2006

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