January 27, 2008 in City

Exercise as easy as falling off a pole

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review

Man. This global warming is worse than I thought.

It has apparently even affected gravity, making the Earth’s pull far more intense than I recall.

Either that or I seriously have to start laying off the pie.

I arrived at these scientific conclusions Thursday afternoon while taking my first (and last) pole dancing lesson.

My instructor is a small and fat-free blond woman who, when pole performing, goes by the moniker Chastitie.

I was hoping I could get an exotic nickname, too. (I had already settled on Mockerie.)

Before we got to that, however, Chastitie told me to see if I could suspend my weight by hanging from the shiny portable steel pole her husband had installed in the living room of their tidy north Spokane home.

No problemo.

I jumped up. I grabbed on. And was immediately overpowered by a sudden burst of gravity.

Hands. Hurting. Can’t. Hold.


Two seconds.

Lesson over.

Gee. It didn’t look that hard when Chastitie was doing it.

Minutes prior to my near-simultaneous ascent/descent humiliation, Chastitie hung and spun around the pole like some agile zoo creature.

Upside down. Sideways.

My job is like Christmas every day.

Chastitie froze in some impossible position that looked like she was suspending herself from the pole by just her stomach. A “yogini,” she called it.

“You Gotta be Kidding Me,” I call it.

Being upstaged by a perky pole dancer wasn’t my idea. The blame belongs to one of my sadist editors, who forwarded me an e-mail Chastitie sent to the newspaper.

“Time for Doug to learn a new skill,” noted the editor at the top of her e-mail.

You know me. Always willing to waddle into the unknown.

Chastitie had an agenda, of course. She was hoping we’d give her some ink to promote her Goddess Arts Academy, which offers instruction in pole fitness, pole dancing and exotic dance. (Call 509-868-2168 for details/prices.)

I am no stranger to this seductive merger of tubular metal and taut flesh.

My last journalistic adventure into the world of pole dancing was to check out three sisters who were stripping at the Stateline Showgirls. It got even better: Their mother was house stripper mom.

Call me old-fashioned. But I love writing about family values.

Yes, Chastitie did the strip joint thing. But she said that was years ago. Her academy, she added, is not focused on the naked shake-it side of the pole biz.


She is trying to join the national trend of bringing pole dancing to the masses. As with most fads, Spokane is behind the curves on this one.

Pole dancing for fun and fitness has cropped up in bigger metropolitan areas during the past few years.

The phenomenon was even featured on an Oprah episode back in 2003.

You know something’s OK when St. Oprah blesses it.

Chastitie said she has a degree in ballet and modern dance and believes Spokane is ready. Pole dancing “improves body image and positive sexuality as well as building confidence in the women who participate in learning.”

Chastitie’s real name is Traci Lujan. She’s a good-humored mom with two boys and didn’t want her age published in the newspaper, thank you very much. Besides teaching, she performs (clothed, mind you) in Seattle and area clubs.

Her routines are graceful and extraordinarily athletic.

“I think of (the pole) as a vertical balance beam,” she said. “The tricks and hangs all originate from some sort of ballet or gymnastics.”

Wouldn’t pole dancing make a great Olympic event?

Hey, it makes more sense than that silly floor exercise with the hoops and ribbons.

(Insert synchronized swimming insult here.)

Chastitie said she currently teaches 20 or so students out of her home. She dreams of one day opening her own studio with poles and pupils galore.

Is everyone welcome?

“I even once taught a pastor’s wife,” said Chastitie.

Hmm. Guess you’d call her a Holy Poler.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email