News

When they say strip away the pounds, they mean it

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

Lady of America manager Lori Jerome was busy at the cash register last Friday evening, ringing up the group of curious women who showed up just after closing for a sexy aerobic workout and a good time.

Jerome’s fitness center in Federal Way is the first club south of Seattle to offer the tantalizing new stripper aerobics classes. Twenty-five women showed up for the debut, and Jerome hasn’t even advertised yet.

Urban Striptease founder and Seattle aerobics instructor Tricia Murphy, who was there to lead the first class, said she created the program four years ago, just after Sept. 11. She’d been to Los Angeles and “saw a crazy class” that was fun and made people laugh and enjoy themselves during a difficult time.

She thought to herself, “It’s a little crazy for Seattle, but I think I can adapt this,” she told the Federal Way group last Friday.

“It was an accidental, overnight success,” she said. “I just wanted to do something to get people’s spirits up.”

Murphy’s prior expertise had been in hip-hop dance and classical ballet. As such, she had to “learn from the pros” to get the Urban Striptease moves down, she said.

Today, Murphy owns the Urban Striptease license and trains the staffs at fitness centers around the country on how to teach the classes.

Jerome thought the classes would be popular at her Dash Point Road and South 312th Street location of Lady of America. It’s a women-only club boasting 850 members, and many of them like the fact the facility is all-female, Jerome said.

During the Urban Striptease class, participants are encouraged to wear layers of clothing to strip away or to pantomime the strip moves. Those who are squeamish about nudity needn’t worry — layers are stripped off, but no one actually takes off all their clothes.

The bumping and grinding is pretty intense.

“It’s quite a workout. It’s very Pilates-type isolation moves,” Jerome said.

The club normally closes at 7 p.m. on Fridays, but the striptease class will keep it open an hour later. In addition, members and non-members are welcome to sign up. Jerome said last Friday there was a mix of members and friends of members, since membership isn’t required to take the class. Still, membership has its privileges: The cost of the class was $59 for members and $79 for non-members, though the drop-in fee just to try it out is only $15.

During the class, Murphy moved fluidly to the up-tempo music, taking the women through hip rolls and thrusts and provocative floor movements. The class flowed like dance choreography, with the steps set to an eight-count and Murphy guiding the novices: “Five, six, seven, eight ... walk, up, up, circle. Now again.”

Dressed in standard gym wear, the women hook their shoulders to the thumping beat, miming the removal of their clothing to Murphy’s eight-count: “One, two, three, four, take it off, off, off, hold.”

The women were game for the physical and emotional challenge of flaunting their stuff. They emulated Murphy’s movements the best they could, laughing and enjoying themselves. The participants were comfortable cutting loose in the supportive environment Murphy created.

“The thing you should leave here with tonight is a sense of why you are sexy,” she told them.

Murphy noted many women figure their husbands find women of another body type or lifestyle sexy when, in fact, it’s confidence and security that’s so bewitching.

“For some reason, we don’t realize how sexy they think we are as is,” she told her class. During her research for the class, husbands kept telling her, “‘My wife does one hip roll and I’m all over her’,” she said. “Men keep saying it.”

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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