Pole dancing being used not for money, but for fitness

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Pole dancing being used not for money, but for fitness
In this Sept. 7, 2014 photo Roz Mayes, center, teaches how to "twerk" during a workshop at the Pole Expo in Las Vegas. Pole dancers from around the world gathered in Las Vegas this month to swap ideas and learn tricks of the trade. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Sept. 7, 2014 photo, Jedda J Jordan poses in her high heels after teaching a class at the Pole Expo in Las Vegas. Pole dancers from around the world gathered in Las Vegas this month to swap ideas and learn tricks of the trade. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Sept. 7, 2014 photo, Nicole Landkas, a fifth generation circus performer, teaches a class on arial silks at the Pole Expo in Las Vegas. Pole dancers from around the world gathered in Las Vegas this month to swap ideas and learn tricks of the trade. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Sept. 7, 2014 photo, Heidi Nilsson participates in a workshop at the Pole Expo in Las Vegas. Poles have long been a staple of strip clubs, but many of the attendees at the expo are taking the lead of expo founder Fawnia Dietrich and refining their slinky craft as a workout activity. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Sept. 7, 2014 photo, Torwa Joe, center, teaches a workshop on body movement to Crystaline Brown, left, and Melissa Hein at the Pole Expo in Las Vegas. The expo, held at the Palms Casino, offered workshops on everything from strength conditioning to lap dancing. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Sept. 7, 2014 photo, Quinn McCrimmon, front, and others take part in a workshop at the Pole Expo in Las Vegas. Poles have long been a staple of strip clubs, but many of the attendees at the expo are taking the lead of expo founder Fawnia Dietrich and refining their slinky craft as a workout activity. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Sept. 7, 2014 photo, Roz Mayes teaches a workshop called "SWAG" at the Pole Expo in Las Vegas. The expo, held at the Palms Casino, offered workshops on everything from strength conditioning to lap dancing. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this photo taken July 11, 2012. A pole dancer perform during a practice session of pole dancing at a gym in Caracas, Venezuela. Pole dancing may have started out in strip clubs, but since the 1990s, it’s become an all-ages exercise and sport phenomenon the world over. Now, it’s hit the streets in Venezuela, a country that’s made beauty and fitness a cult and minted more Miss Universes than any other except the United States. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
In this photo taken July 13, 2012, Grey Betancourt, center, teaches sensual expression and pole dancing inside a pole dancing studio at a gym in Caracas, Venezuela. Pole dancing may have started out in strip clubs, but since the 1990s, it’s become an all-ages exercise and sport phenomenon the world over. Now, it’s hit the streets in Venezuela, a country that’s made beauty and fitness a cult and minted more Miss Universes than any other except the United States. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
In this photo taken July 11, 2012, a woman practices pole dancing during a class held in a gym in Caracas, Venezuela. Pole dancing may have started out in strip clubs, but since the 1990s, it’s become an all-ages exercise and sport phenomenon the world over. Now, it’s hit the streets in Venezuela, a country that’s made beauty and fitness a cult and minted more Miss Universes than any other except the United States. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Karen Teare, left, and Maegan Stringfield lead pole-dance fitness classes at Pulse Holistic Center on Monday, June 16, 2008, in Fresno, California. (Photo by Darrell Wong/Fresno Bee/MCT via Getty Images)
Kim Andrews practices a dance routine during her pole-dance fitness class at Pulse Holistic Center on Monday, June 16, 2008, in Fresno, California. (Photo by Darrell Wong/Fresno Bee/MCT via Getty Images)
Danielle Cash works out on one of eight poles at Pulse Holistic Center on Monday, June 16, 2008, in Fresno, California. (Photo by Darrell Wong/Fresno Bee/MCT via Getty Images)
April Andronicous works out her arms before reaching for a pole during her pole-dance fitness class at Pulse Holistic Center on Monday, June 16, 2008, in Fresno, California. (Photo by Darrell Wong/Fresno Bee/MCT via Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 23: Alexe Woods, a pole dancing instructor, spins around a pole in the dance studio at L.A. Fitness in London, U.K., on Wednesday, March 19, 2008. Thousands of women take pole-dancing classes in a fitness craze that may owe some of its popularity to the example of celebrities including the model Kate Moss, who performed in a video for the White Stripes. (Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Venezuelan pole dancer Eugenia Tovar performs in the Miss Pole Dance South America 2013 competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Pole dancer Florencia Murga, of Argentina, performs in the Miss Pole Dance South America 2013 and Pole Dance Argentina 2013 competitions in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Venezuelan pole dancer Celiana Rivero (C) warms up during the backstage of the Miss Pole Dance Argentina 2010 and Miss Pole Dance South America 2010 competition in Buenos Aires on November 6, 2010, ahead the Pole Dance World Championship 2011, to be held in Budapest. AFP PHOTO / Juan Mabromata (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON - MAY 03: Women perform pole tricks during a Polepeople pole dancing class May 3, 2006 in London, England. Since celebrities hailed pole dancing as the latest alternative to aerobics or yoga pole dancing has taken the United Kingdom by storm and has become the latest trend for females getting fit. The classes provide women with the opportunity to develop their upper-body strength and add sparkle to their sex life, while enjoying a female-only atmosphere which they find less regimented than traditional gym sessions. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
LONDON - MAY 03: A woman performs pole tricks during a Polepeople pole dancing class May 3, 2006 in London, England. Since celebrities hailed pole dancing as the latest alternative to aerobics or yoga pole dancing has taken the United Kingdom by storm and has become the latest trend for females getting fit. The classes provide women with the opportunity to develop their upper-body strength and add sparkle to their sex life, while enjoying a female-only atmosphere which they find less regimented than traditional gym sessions. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
LONDON - MAY 03: A woman performs pole tricks during a Polepeople pole dancing class May 3, 2006 in London, England. Since celebrities hailed pole dancing as the latest alternative to aerobics or yoga pole dancing has taken the United Kingdom by storm and has become the latest trend for females getting fit. The classes provide women with the opportunity to develop their upper-body strength and add sparkle to their sex life, while enjoying a female-only atmosphere which they find less regimented than traditional gym sessions. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
LONDON - MAY 03: A woman performs pole tricks during a Polepeople pole dancing class May 3, 2006 in London, England. Since celebrities hailed pole dancing as the latest alternative to aerobics or yoga pole dancing has taken the United Kingdom by storm and has become the latest trend for females getting fit. The classes provide women with the opportunity to develop their upper-body strength and add sparkle to their sex life, while enjoying a female-only atmosphere which they find less regimented than traditional gym sessions. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
LONDON - MAY 03: A woman performs pole tricks during a Polepeople pole dancing class May 3, 2006 in London, England. Since celebrities hailed pole dancing as the latest alternative to aerobics or yoga pole dancing has taken the United Kingdom by storm and has become the latest trend for females getting fit. The classes provide women with the opportunity to develop their upper-body strength and add sparkle to their sex life, while enjoying a female-only atmosphere which they find less regimented than traditional gym sessions. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
LONDON - MAY 03: Women perform pole tricks during a Polepeople pole dancing class May 3, 2006 in London, England. Since celebrities hailed pole dancing as the latest alternative to aerobics or yoga pole dancing has taken the United Kingdom by storm and has become the latest trend for females getting fit. The classes provide women with the opportunity to develop their upper-body strength and add sparkle to their sex life, while enjoying a female-only atmosphere which they find less regimented than traditional gym sessions. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, NSW - JANUARY 31: Poledancing students Danielle Grimmond (L) and Charlotte Priestley (C) practice moves on dance poles as Polestars Australia instructor Stephanie Kite (R) demonstrates during a poledancing lesson January 31, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. Poledancing is becoming a popular way for women to get fit, and numbers of women taking classes has exploded over the last couple of years. The classes provide women the opportunity to develop their upper-body strength and add sparkle to their sex life, while enjoying a female-only atmosphere which they find less regimented than traditional gym sessions. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, NSW - JANUARY 31: Poledancing students Danielle Grimmond (C) and Charlotte Priestley (R) practice moves on dance poles as Polestars Australia instructor Stephanie Kite (L) looks on during a poledancing lesson January 31, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. Poledancing is becoming a popular way for women to get fit, and numbers of women taking classes has exploded over the last couple of years. The classes provide women the opportunity to develop their upper-body strength and add sparkle to their sex life, while enjoying a female-only atmosphere which they find less regimented than traditional gym sessions. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
In this photo taken July 1, 2012, Ermelinda Maglione practices pole dancing at an outdoor gym during one of her weekend outings with friends to a public park in Caracas, Venezuela. Pole dancing may have started out in strip clubs, but since the 1990s, it’s become an all-ages exercise and sport phenomenon the world over. Now, it’s hit the streets in Venezuela, a country that’s made beauty and fitness a cult and minted more Miss Universes than any other except the United States. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
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By MICHELLE RINDELS

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Poles have long been a staple of smoky strip clubs, but the women scaling and swinging from them in Las Vegas earlier this month weren't doing it for dollar bills.

Many of the attendees at the 3rd Annual Pole Expo are taking the lead of expo founder Fawnia Dietrich and refining their slinky craft as a workout activity.

"Most people that pole dance in the studios are everyday women, not strippers," said Dietrich, who got her start as a stripper but has since launched a Las Vegas studio offering fitness-focused pole classes. "It has that connotation of sensuality or eroticism that makes it a little more fun."

The expo, held at the Palms Casino, offered workshops on everything from strength conditioning to lap dancing. Vendors sold sparkling two-piece pole dancing outfits - exposed skin is key to gripping the slippery brass pole - as well as the poles themselves and sky-high heels.

Some of the best pole dancers, however, skip the stilettos and go barefoot so they can better point their toes and stick to the pole. Showing off the splits and gravity defying handstands off the side of the pole, their athletic performances are more akin to an Olympic gymnast on the uneven bars than a burlesque show.

Dietrich said her students have many different reasons for choosing pole dancing. Some want to build upper body strength and lose weight. Others want to surprise their husband with an anniversary dance or recover from a divorce.

"They need to find their sensuality again," she said.

While pole dancing has become more sophisticated and widespread, its evolved versions are rarely seen in its birthplace. Strip club patrons are still far less interested in watching a dancer execute an acrobatic move on a pole than watch her shake and shimmy, according to expo attendee May Chen.

"Customers don't care to see Cirque du Soleil," she said.

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