Aerobics classes may have been sexy back in the '80s when Jane Fonda was still sporting her lavender leotard and leg warmers, but the old rocking-horse-mambo-grapevine routine doesn't cut it these days—especially not in the frumpy, oversized T-shirts and sweats that pass for workout wear in many a rec-center step-aerobics class.
Sheila Kelley, marginal TV actress (L.A. Law, Sisters) and creator of the "S Factor" strip-workout program, says working out should be downright lascivious. After training for her role in the 2000 stripping flick Dancing at the Blue Iguana, she decided she'd never felt so feminine and physically fit as when she was doing striptease and pole work; she built an S Factor gym in Los Angeles and started teaching exotic dance techniques as an exercise program.
There isn't an S Factor gym in Seattle, but Kelley's book, The S Factor: Strip Workouts for Every Woman, will have you doing cat crawls and lap dances like a pro, and the chapter on stripping attire lays down the law: Clothing should come off easily, and every stripper (or home strip-exercise enthusiast) should own a good push-up bra, a "sturdy" G-string, and a tall, preferably shiny, pair of f**k-me heels. For barely there undies, pleather a-plenty, and thigh-high vinyl boots, visit Amour on the Boulevard (5301 Southcenter Blvd., Tukwila, 206-248-5085) or Love Zone (7750 15th Ave. N.W., 206-782-3763; 12637 N.E. 85th St., Kirkland, 425-576-8202). You can even buy a pole ($269) at www.sfactor.com.
Of course, you don't have to get naked to be sexy. Here are some more hot alternatives to traditional exercise and some local resources for getting started:
Because nothing builds upper-body strength faster than walking on your hands. There are a few crews in town that meet regularly and offer workshops occasionally (Bumbershoot's a great venue to check out local b-boys and b-girls). Even if you don't plan to perform, taking a break-dancing class can be a great way to get in shape. The city of Kirkland (www.ktub.org, 425-822-3088) offers a beginner's class on Tuesday nights ($30 for Kirkland residents, $36 for anybody else). For gear, check out: Goods (1112 Pike St., 206-622-0459); House of Stylez (6951 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, 206-725-8790); Seattle Retro Shoe Store (1524 E. Olive Way, 206-322-2305); and Sneaker City (110 Pike St., 206-621-7923).
You can toss out that old 8 Minute Abs VHS tape, because nothing works the abs, hips, and thighs like the world's most ancient dance form. Nationally renowned belly dancer Delilah teaches classes at her Fremont studio, Visionary Dance (www.visionarydance.com, 206-632-2353). For silky scarves, flowing skirts, and pounds of shimmering jewelry, check out: Afghani Crafts (1501 Pike Place, #512, 206-447-9407); Pyramid Imports (108 Pine St., 206-448-8447), and Sindhu International (4307 University Way N.E., 206-632-0738).
So fun you won't even realize it's exercise. Rent Salsa, Dance With Me, and Dirty Dancing (the original and the Havana Nights sequel), then hit the clubs. Most places offer one-time beginner lessons before the dancing starts, but if you want to feel a little more confident in your salsa steps, check out any of the more in-depth classes that are offered around town. Two great salsa nights for beginners are Friday or Saturday at Beso del Sol (4468 Stone Way N., 206-547-8087), where there's plenty of space on the dance floor— because most of the real salsa enthusiasts are at China Harbor (2040 Westlake Ave. N., 206-286-1688)—and it's dark enough that klutziness isn't as embarrassing as it might be at, say, Century Ballroom (915 E. Pine St., 206-324-7263). Dark or not, fashion is a major part of salsa. Clothes should be flirty, breathable (it is a workout), and flexible. They can be cheap, too, because they will inevitably get stretched, torn, and deodorant-stained, and because when the lights are low, nobody will know that strappy red dress cost less than the club's cover charge. This is your chance to unleash your inner Christina Aguilera at all the mall chains. Try: Casual Choice (Westlake Mall, 206-405-2713); Rave (Southcenter Mall, 206-242-9601); Forever 21 (Alderwood Mall, 425-697-4348); Mariposa (Bellevue Square, Bellevue, 425-990-8302); and, on Capitol Hill, Broadway Boutique (113 Broadway E., 206-325-0430) and Rockin' Betty's (405 Broadway E., 206-709-8821).
Because the smells of leather, sweat, and metal are three great aromas that smell, um, great together. Take it from Rocky and Girlfight—tough is sexy. If you've been punching the air for years in step aerobics, it may be time for you to direct your jabs at a bag (or even a willing partner). At Cappy's on Union (1408 22nd Ave., 206-322-6410), men and women work out side by side, training—and even sparring—with one another. For gloves, hand wraps, mouth guard, shoes, and apparel, visit: Big 5 Sporting Goods (4315 University Way N.E., 206-547-2445 or 1101 Leary Way N.W., 206-706-7531) or Gart Sports (44 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue, 425-456-0600, or 17450 Southcenter Pkwy., Tukwila, 206-575-2100). If you want to look like a knockout when you score a KO, check out the sports bras, tanks, and shorts at: Adidas (1501 Fifth Ave., 206-382-4317); Super Jock 'n Jill (7210 E. Green Lake Dr. N., 206-522-7711), or Lady Foot Locker (Westlake Center, 206-623-9401, or Bellevue Square, Bellevue, 425-467-9118).