With lights dimmed and provocative music playing in the background, the women, outfitted in high-heeled platform shoes, begin a series of sensual dance movements around a pole.
It's a familiar scene in exotic dance clubs. But this is no strip joint.
It's a dance studio in St. Petersburg.
At Impulse Studios Pole Dance & Exotic Fitness, 6346 4th St. N., Sarah Murray and her staff offer an alternative to zumba and cycling classes to help women stay fit.
Here, students get a cardio workout and increase flexibility and strength by swinging on and dancing around metal poles.
It's a workout that's gaining more popularity among women seeking exercise that is both fun and challenging, said Murray.
Murray, a St. Petersburg mom, caught the pole-dancing bug when she attend a class a few years ago.
The Tampa native said she loves all forms of dance. She studied classical dance at the University of South Florida before pursuing a master's degree in public administration.
"When I graduated, I started working in government but I wasn't passionate about it at all," Murray said. "My passion was my dance classes."
Before long, Murray had become a certified pole dance instructor and was teaching pole dancing.
"Then I opened my own studio in St. Peterburg two years ago," she said.
It proved to be such a success, she decided to open a second studio in the Brandon area in June.
The studio is simply outfitted with wood floors, discreet track lighting, mirrored walls and 13-foot poles attached to the ceiling.
There, women of all ages and backgrounds gather to learn sexy dance moves while building strength and improving muscle tone.
"It's something every woman can do," said Murray, whose students range from 18 years old to their 60s. "You don't have to already be in shape to begin pole dancing. You get in shape through pole dancing."
Murray offers classes for beginners as well as more experienced dancers, along with chair dancing, which consists of a series of sexy dance moves around a chair, private lessons and pole dance parties for a fun girls' night out.
An introductory class is required so students learn safety rules and body cues that are unique to the program, said Murray. The cost is $25.
Afterward, students can simply drop in and take a class whenever their schedules permit. Drop-in rates are $25 per class and include a pole strength class, slow and sexy pole, booty bounce pole, pole flex and stretch and aura cardio pole.
Or students can enroll in a four-week session that includes the introductory class for $100.
Both daytime and evening classes are offered.
"The typical client is someone who doesn't like going to the gym," Murray said. "They're looking for something different, something that will keep them interested."
The women-only classes, she said, are small, allowing one-on-one attention.
"It's a very supportive environment," Murray said. "We encourage one another and have a good time. Women love to dance and get strong together. And it's beautiful and graceful. It makes you feel confident and sexy."
She added that high heels are optional. "Most beginners start in bare feet," said said.
"I really like doing the workout better than the gym," said student Amanda Dawson. "I was bored to death running on the treadmill."
"I just thought it'd be cool to learn to shake my butt," said student Heather Banks, a physical therapist. "It's a good workout and it's fun."
She talked fellow therapist Kristy Schoen into taking the class with her.
"I was a ballet dancer," said Schoen. "But this is totally different. It's definitely a good workout."
To learn more about pole-dancing classes at Impulse Studios, call Murray at 813-325-1990, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website.