Monday, January 9, 2012
Studio Review: Flirty Girl Fitness, Chicago
I usually train at home or at Rondi's, but yesterday I had a huge gap between two commitments downtown, and was looking for some way to fill the time. Of course the first thing I did was check the area pole studios to see what was happening. And I was in luck: Flirty Girl Fitness had an Open Pole class that perfectly coincided with my downtime!
I booked over the phone, and the lady who took down my info was friendly. I had to give a credit card number to reserve my spot, even though I would be paying in person the next day. I assume that's so they can charge no-shows.
I had lost my CTA card the previous day, so I had to walk like 50 minutes to get there. The whole area was really dead; I dunno if that's cause it was Sunday afternoon, or because I'm used to the intimate hustle-and-bustle of New York.
The studio was down the street from the Oprah building, so I had a little tourist moment.
I had been instructed to get to the studio early to sign a waver. I got there really early, because I wanted to have time to check the place out and get comfortable.
The studio was really gorgeous inside! It looked like a converted something. You know, farm or bath house or train station or whatever Chicagans convert into things. So it gave it this really hip, indie feel, with the exposed wood and brick.
I signed my waver and paid by credit card and was directed toward the dressing room and where my class would be. They had two studios, the "Marilyn Monroe" and the "Bette Davis." Marilyn Monroe was the pole studio, Bette Davis was an open studio that was used (while I was there) for abs workouts and belly dancing. I think there might have been a third, smaller studio off to the side, but I didn't get a good look.
The locker room was really sweet. But I think I'll take this moment to broadcast a PSA to all pole studios everywhere. PLEASE LAY OFF THE HOT PINK. WE ARE FEMALE. I GET IT. WE ALL GET IT. IT'S A REALLY OBNOXIOUS COLOR. I mean, I LIKE pink. a LOT. I'm wearing pink right now. Put come ON already. Hot pink does not go with anything else, so when you chose to center your color scheme on it, you are completely restricted to hot pink, black, and white, and it becomes a little nauseating.
That said, I did like my hot pink towel.
I talked to a couple women in the locker room. One was there for belly dancing, and was talking with another woman about how she was afraid to try pole because she has sweaty hands, so the topic of *product* came up. I had some Dry Hands with me so I let her try it. Then she asked where to get it, and that's where it got awkward because I mentioned it's the brand we carried at my studio, but I had to stop there, because the LAST thing you want to do when you're a GUEST at another studio is start talking about where YOU work (or YOUR private lessons). That is just bad business etiquette and not fair to the studio. So I tried to downplay it when someone asked where I worked and be just like, "oh, it's wayyyyy out in the suburbs. Like, SO FAR."
So here was something awkward: I hadn't realized how big the studio would be (many are just one room), and since I was told class was barefoot (or in socks), I hadn't brought any shoes to walk around in. So I was timidly walking around the lobby barefoot, hoping not to get in trouble for a health code violation or something. Everyone else had socks, sneakers, ballet slippers, or flip-flops. I had come straight from a gig (in my other life as a musician), so all I had was pantyhose and business lady pumps. Nobody said anything, but I felt embarrassed to be the only asshole standing in the lobby with bare feet, like someone would think I was disgusting. (I personally don't mind, I got tough feet!)
I wasn't totally sure when class was starting, because I think most of the students in the class before Open Pole stayed for Open Pole, so there wasn't a big diaspora of students coming out. So I poked my head in timidly and a nice blonde Russian girl smiled at me to indicate that I was in the right place, and the teacher called me over and took my "attendance chip" and offered me the pole in front of her. (Yeah, they give you a poker chip to hand into your teacher for attendance, not sure what that's all about.)
The class before us was, I think, "Beginner Pole Tricks," and they were just wrapping up. Looked like they were working on the "Split heel." With all due respect for Pantera, is there a new name for this move yet? Now that most people dance barefoot, it's a bit of a misnomer. I direct my students to "step up" when using this mount, but that's not really a name, just a description of the transition.
So, the teacher's name was Diana, and she seemed really great, like really friendly and a lot of personality. But since it was Open Pole, she wasn't teaching per se, so I don't know what her teaching style is like.
My fear going into this was that, because it was the middle of Sunday afternoon, there would only be like 2 other people. Wow, was I wrong! The class was packed! Some people were sharing poles, but I don't know if that was because there weren't enough to go around or just because they were training together. It was hard to tell how many people were in class, because I never knew how many people were just overlapping from previous and next classes.
There were 13 50mm poles (I forgot to count but the lady at the front desk told me). Nobody could tell me the material or height. I think they were stainless steel, based on the way they looked. I'm a horrible estimator of height, but it took me six shoulder mount climbs to get to a ceiling lay both times I tried, so I'd say that's 11 or 12 feet. Plenty tall for most tricks. The pole was extremely grippy, because it was warm from the last person who used it, and also I think there was some grip product on it. I didn't see what the club sold, but the teacher (or somebody who's stuff was near the teacher's) had a bottle of Mighty Grip, so I assume that was their standard. I didn't have to put on anything or wipe the pole down.
I think the poles were homemade. They were just straight sticks permanently affixed to the floor and ceiling; nothing to imply that they were X-Poles or Platinum Stages or anything. But I'm just theorizing; I figured if no one could tell me the height or material they certainly wouldn't know the manufacturer.
The teacher took music requests, and I didn't ask for anything. I think it was mostly hip-hop with some standard club rock.
Since I didn't know anyone, I tried really hard to mind my own business and not stare at anyone else. In retrospect I probably should have been a little more smiley and gregarious, because I really did want to meet people. Anyways, from what I caught out of the corner of my eye, the levels were across the board. I saw people trying to learn Fireman spins, and people doing yoginis and spatchcocks. Again, I tried not to watch, because, you know, some people are competitive, and I'm advanced, and I didn't want anyone to think I was throwing down. I hope I didn't come off as a snob, because no one talked to me the whole time. And I didn't talk to anyone, so that's fair.
One other thing I should mention was that they had TONS of pole mats! There was more than enough for everyone, some people even had more than 1. It was the square kind that you velcro around the pole (if somebody knows the brand name I'll link to it).
The class was only one hour, but I had a really great workout. I enjoyed the atmosphere, the pole was just right, and I left feeling energized and in a great mood.
I was too shy to talk to anyone in the locker room. I did enjoy a nice hot shower.
On my way out, I asked permission to snap the photograph you see at the top of the page. The white walls are the perimeter of the pole room. See how it doesn't go all the way to the ceiling? I wonder if they do that to make it cheaper to heat, or for pole stability. I mean, if I had a tall ceiling like that, I'd want my poles to go all the way up!
My only one complaint about this class was the price. Open Pole was $25, for 1 hour. I can see charging $25 for an instructed class, or charging $25 for two hours of Open Pole. But $25 for one hour of open training is a lot. However, they have monthly memberships that seem like a really good deal, and I think most people who were there had memberships. Unfortunately I probably won't go again because of the price. But if I lived nearby and needed a place to train, I would love to be a member here!
Flirty Girl Fitness, Chicago
Equipment: 13 50mm poles, stainless steel (?), make unknown, static.
Amenities: spa, bar, nice locker room, gift shop
Price: $25 for a 1 hour class
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