How a South Philly Pole Dancing Class Helped Me Find My Confidence

Contributing writer Meghan Peters checked out Flaunt Fitness to see whether she could channel sexy vibes through the sultry moves.

pole dancing

Flaunt Fitness is a pole dancing and aerial studio in South Philly. / Photograph courtesy of Flaunt Fitness

My friends and I work out hard. We spend our nights and weekends in a powerlifting gym, giving no thought to how we look. I usually roll up in my standard black leggings and old, probably bleach-stained band T-shirt, hair in a messy ponytail and ready to get down to business. Weightlifting makes you feel strong AF, but I wouldn’t describe my gym days as my most alluring days.

Then the crew started talking about the need for more sexy in our lives. We came up with the idea to take a pole dancing class: Intro to Pole at South Philly’s Flaunt Fitness, a beginner-friendly way to work some sensuality into our fitness regimens. As the class approached, we joked at the gym and through text message about our already impressive dancing skills, what songs would best suit our imagined routines, and whether we should wear matching, bedazzled outfits.

Fast forward to the day of reckoning. The tone of the texts changed from jovial energy to nervous tension. “What do we wear?” we asked. “Will the pole hold me?” (Flaunt Fitness’ website had told us the poles could hold “at least 500 pounds.” Win for the big girl!) “Do we wear shoes? What if I didn’t get all of my morning lotion off?” (The website also says, “NO LOTION.”) Let’s just say the anxiety was palpable.

We carpooled because there’s power in numbers. When we entered the building, we walked into what we didn’t realize was the previous class finishing up. All 12 poles in the studio were flanked by people in stages of advanced pole work, defying gravity and all laws of nature. Luckily, after a few moments of panic, we figured out this was not our class.

Once the previous class cleared out, we picked our poles and met Pinki, Flaunt Fitness’ owner and our teacher for tonight’s class. She was tiny, but her personality was huge — spunk personified — and her confidence instantly set us at ease. After asking who was new (uh, us), she gave a brief explanation of how class would work. We’d be learning a short routine, broken down into sections.

pole dancing

Lauren “Pinki” Schiavo is the owner of Flaunt Fitness. / Photograph by Don Curry

We started with a few exercises and then eased into the first portion of the night’s routine. As we worked through it independently, Pinki and her assistant, Alma, would walk around to see if we had the moves down. If not, we received a one-on-one review — but not an intimidating dressing-down. Pinki was able to translate what appeared to be complicated choreography into common movements that everyone could understand. For example, the first step, known as a scoop, was basically just a squat with a bit of flourish. Easy enough.

As the routine progressed, the routine became more difficult, incorporating everything from side planks to rolls from our backs into push-ups. But Pinki was always nearby to work through sticking points and applaud our efforts. Every time we did a move correctly, she twerked. Eventually, we all starting cheering each other’s accomplishments.

As class was winding down, Pinki told us we were going to have some “sexy time” to showcase the routine we’d just learned. The room went dark, lit only by purple bulbs. She turned the music up, and a soft spotlight appeared near each pole.

The shift changed the mood of the room. I felt a sense of privacy, like it was just me and the pole, and all my insecurities could fall away. I wanted to perform.

By that point, we were sweaty. We were bruised. We were sore. But I think those last moments of class gave us a glimpse of the sexy we’d originally joked about needing. Ultimately, all I needed was to feel confident in my own skin. My friends and I left the Flaunt Fitness class that day feeling happy, exhausted — and like the saucy minxes we’d been all along.

pole dancing

Peters and her friends wanted to inject a little bit of sexy into their workout routines. / Photograph courtesy of Meghan Peters

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