When Hollywood's A-list needs to learn to pole dance, they almost exclusively head to S Factor. The reason is simple: Founder and actress Sheila Kelley spawned the "sexy fitness" trend after playing a stripper in "Dancing at the Blue Iguana."
Since then, Kelley's company -- which also offers group classes -- has choreographed
striptease sequences for the likes of Marisa Tomei in "The Wrestler," Debra Messing (underwater!) in "Lucky You," Lisa Edelstein in "House" and Teri Hatcher in "Desperate Housewives." Now, the expert is helping Hatcher's co-star Eva Longoria with an upcoming striptease for their show, as well.
Eva Longoria is one of several celebs turning to the pros for pole dancing lessons. - David Livingston/Getty I …
Of course, when Kelley, who will play one of Gossip Girl's newest characters this fall, started her pole dancing journey, there was no such thing as a striptease or burlesque class. "I learned by watching at strip clubs, imitating and exploring," she reveals. "I fell and got bruises, but ultimately I unlocked a more overt sexuality. And when sexuality becomes everyday, your life changes in positive, unexpected ways."
That experience did change the former dancer's life, unleashing an inner "erotic creature", working untapped muscles in her body and securing her appearances on Oprah and the like. "My body got longer, leaner and more feminine than it ever did when I was a ballerina," Kelley says.
Perhaps the same will be the case for Longoria, who showed up "full of energy" for a session last week at S Factor. This experience is quite different than your average fitness class: The lights are low in themed rooms like the bright orange Moroccan or velvet-appointed Bordeaux and red bulb-filled table lamps sit in each corner. In group sessions, a spotlight is on the teacher, so that students -- who are encouraged to wear hair down and free -- don't feel inhibited from moving provocatively. Emotionally fraught playlists include everything from Eminem to Damien Rice.
"It was so fun when Eva came in!" shares Kelley. "I turned the lights way low, which she commented on. Getting her into her own body was extraordinary because she's so beautiful. All this scintillating sexuality came out of her -- her body was smiling!"
Pole dancing is actually only one of six elements to S Factor's training, which also includes Wall Dancing, Lap Dance (with many variations and levels), S Movement itself, and The Strips & Teases and Routines that put it all together. So, some moves -- like the following exercise that Sheila Kelley worked on with the "Desperate Housewives" star -- can be done at home. Check it out and try it for yourself!
S Factor Spine Circle
1. Sit in a cross-legged position. First, get in touch with your breath because that's what truly moves your body.
2. Once you've become comfortable with that, exaggerate your inhale, pushing your chest all the way out at far as it possibly can go and letting your face and head reach up. You should feel and look like the mermaid prow of an ancient ship among singing sirens.
3. Then, grabbing a hold of your knees, begin to swirl your chest and ribcage in a circle, off to the right and then all the way to the wall behind you, scooping your belly.
4. Next, rotate all the way to your left, keeping your right hip nailed down. Then, move towards the front and make a beautiful arch forward. Rock off your sits bones, reaching your spine all the way back again.
**Use a full 10 to 15 seconds per circular movement/rotation to truly extend the muscles and engage them. Do five rotations on one side and then reverse directions. If the sensuality doesn't appeal, the fitness very well might. Kelley says that striptease classes target muscles that you rarely use: "You'll feel like 'I am the hottest person on the planet' and also my muscles are burning -- the body comes alive."
As for why hard-bodied celebrities like Longoria, who frequent S Factor's eight studios across the country, choose pole dancing: "They come here because it's high-end and because they feel safe," says Kelley. But it's also to awaken the "sexual giant" within. "Actors, movie stars and celebrities come to S Factor to discover their inner erotic creature, to be empowered by that and to integrate it back into their lives."