Pole dancing: A sexy way to strip off weight

Pole Fitness owner Tina Marelli, 37, does abdominal crunches while suspended from a pole.   - Margo Hoffman/The Mirror
Pole Fitness owner Tina Marelli, 37, does abdominal crunches while suspended from a pole.
— image credit: Margo Hoffman/The Mirror

Pole dancing is more than just a way to arouse. For some women, it’s a fun way to get in shape.

Exotic dancer Tina Marelli, 37, recently opened Pole Fitness in Federal Way to teach women the art of pole dancing and to help them get fit.

Marelli is nationally recognized in the exotic dancing community. She’s worked for the Deja Vu strip club for the past 12 years. She recently won $20,000 in a national pole-dancing contest and toured the country as a featured performer, earning $2,000 a night.

When she returned to the Seattle area, Marelli used part of her winnings to open Pole Fitness. Despite her career, she is making an effort to de-emphasize the sexual nature of pole dancing in her classes and instead emphasize the fitness aspect.

“We’re just strictly fitness. We don’t teach lap dancing or anything like that,” she said. “I’m actually trying to get out of that industry.”

Marelli said she hopes her Pole Fitness business takes off and she can open several locations. She hopes to one day earn enough to be able to afford to give up exotic dancing, where currently earns her about $500 a night.

Pole Fitness has been open for two months, and Marelli currently has about 30 regular students. She also hosts bachelorette and other parties.

Regular pole dancing builds upper body strength, balance, flexibility and cardiovascular health, Marelli said.

“You use every muscle in your body,” she said. “A lot of people have cancelled their gym memberships and come here three times a week.”

Most of Marelli’s students are housewife types, she said. They range in age from 18 to 64 and vary in size and fitness level.

“I think a lot of people are just intrigued by the pole thing,” she said. “I think it’s a secret fetish.”

Participants wear sports bras or tank tops with shorts. The more skin showing, the easier it is to climb the pole. Sweat also aids in sticking to the pole, Marelli said.

And the participants do get sweaty. Pole dancing is an incredible workout, said Laura Cobine, a 31-year-old college student from Kent. Cobine said she has already lost 10 pounds since beginning the classes two months ago.

“It’s firming. Everything you do you’re using your muscles. You’re losing inches and firming. Even cellulite goes away,” she said.

Regina Wagner, a 43-year-old school bus driver from Auburn, said she cancelled her gym membership after beginning pole dancing classes.

“I get a better workout here three days a week than I did at the gym five days a week,” she said.

Wagner said in the two months that she’s been pole dancing, she’s noticed that she’s firmed up and gained muscle definition in her arms. She is partially motivated by the art of pole dancing.

“If you get somebody that knows what they’re doing, it’s beautiful,” she said. “Once you can do it, it’s really empowering.”

If she masters pole dancing, Wagner said she will ask her husband to install a pole in their bedroom.

“It is sexual,” she said. “A lot of women don’t really want to do it for men. They want to feel sexual for themselves. It makes a woman feel sensual.”

Contact Margo Hoffman: or (253) 925-5565.

Pole Fitness is located at 29100 Pacific Highway S. in Federal Way. For more information, call (206) 249-8426.

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