Pole dancing and twerking might sound like features of a night out, but Laura Cartledge finds they have other uses too.
Exercise, like everything, is changing and evolving.
“Back in the day you either went to the gym, or you didn’t, you either went running, or you didn’t,” says Natalie Sabiston Cripps. “But there is so much choice now.”
As founder of Tiger Tone studio, in Havant, Natalie prides herself in offering something different, from circus themed tots classes to aerial silks and even twerking workshops.
However, the one thing they all have in common is that the focus is on ‘fun’.
“Lots of people say you don’t know you are working out, but they do the next day,” she smiles.
“I warn them it might feel like they’ve been hit by the Tiger Tone bus.
“But people don’t come for the exercise, that is like third or fourth down on the list,” adds Natalie.
“A lot of people say it is their therapy, if they have had a bad day or week this is where they want to come.”
Along with stress relief, the sense of community has been another big draw.
“We have had lots of people who have lost a lot of weight. We have had people who have moved to the area and been lonely then not been lonely anymore,” she reveals. “Personally I would say the friendships are the best bit.
“For me it is about meeting these people and getting to know them.
“A lot of people think they have to come with a friend but then they get here and realise it is a room of friends,” explains Natalie.
“You instantly have something in common… you have all seen each other in sweaty shorts.”
For Natalie a friendly, supportive atmosphere is key and means ‘initially getting them through the door is the hardest part’.
“I have had people say they have had my card for six months before getting in touch,” she says.
“Often you’ll see people comment on pictures on Facebook, ‘that looks amazing, I wish I could do that’.”
And, Natalie believes, you can.
Even pole dancing which has a growing reputation as a demanding but brilliant work out.
“Everyone has to start somewhere and there is so much a beginner can do. You don’t just stand there waiting for your muscles to grow,” she grins. “In the first lesson you will be able to do seven or eight tricks.”
So how did Natalie get to where she is today?
“I have always done dancing, since I was about three, but then it was pole, then hoops then silks,” she replies.
“I did performing arts at college and have just kept doing that kind of thing.”
A decade ago Natalie went into teaching, working in Southampton, before launching Tiger Tone two years ago.
“When I first started it, it was going really well. Immediately it went well. I found myself downplaying it because I didn’t want to jinx it,” she recalls.
“I think the reason it is so good is because the person who picks up the phone when you make a booking is the person you will meet when you come in and it is the person who painted the walls.”
Speaking to Natalie it is clear she is having as much of a good time as the people she teaches.
It seems, thankfully, that enjoyable exercise is the future.
Mechanic Henry shows that pole dancing isn’t just for girls
Henry Lovejoy-Brinkman, 21 from Portsmouth, is a Tiger Tone Studio student and keen to show pole dancing isn’t just for girls.
“I’m a full time mechanic and my other interests lie with working on cars,” he explains.
“When I first saw the advert for Tiger Tone, I thought it looked like great fun, my next thought was, heck why not!
“Being a guy at pole can be very hard, a lot of people see it as a girl only sport but guys really do excel at it,” insists Henry.
“Since joining Tiger Tone I’ve gained a lot of strength and gone down four inches on my waist.”
He’s hoping more men will be encouraged to join and realise the benefits.
“It’s a great sport that will make almost anyone smile,” he enthuses, “and is super good for you!”
Pictures: Ian Hargreaves
August 7, 2015 Travel and Lifestyle