Sheila Kelley’s S Factor - A Sensational Overnight Sensation

Slow is sexy. Mischelle Miller, a veteran S Factor instructor repeated the mantra over and over again throughout the two-hour strip workout class. Low lighting, mood music, and six floor-to-ceiling poles (sans mirrors) added to the ambience as students strutted around the Los Angeles studio.

Bridge Grind

Nineteen women, including this writer, embraced stretching and floor exercises (where we were encouraged to touch ourselves), a sensual strut called the " S Walk", and “The Firefly,” a spiral that calls for wrapping one ankle around a pole while lifting the other off the floor.

With a cheering squad of classmates coupled with some darn good instruction, by the end of class, everyone had executed their first beginner’s pole trick.  More importantly, we had “the glow,” (you know the one), that comes from a good, healthy dose of exercise, and, other unmentionable activities.

Shelia Kelley perfects the art of pole dancing

The S Factor (named for the natural curve of a woman’s body), combines yoga, Pilates and dance (the kind most of us have never dared to perform outside our bedrooms). With visions of mastering such moves as “The Flirt” and “Cat Pounce” in six-inch stilettos, there was a mad rush to sign up at the Los Angeles flagship studio after class.

Descending Angel

“I’m excited,” said Salli, who came to the initial intro with several friends. “We’re definitely going to sign up. I want to get back in touch with my sexuality.  I’ve always wanted to take dance but I was afraid of it. It’s a great way to loosen up.”

Sheila Kelley's S Factor is bringing sexy back.

Much like Karate's black belt system, the S Factor operates on a seven-level G-string system. Students receive a white G-string when they sign up for the initial Level 1 eight-week session. By the time students get to Level 7, they have advanced to the black G-string, and have the tools they need to strip down to their birthday suits (in the privacy of their own homes, of course). In addition to classes, the S Factor offers privates as well as parties, for, say, a bachelorette interested in learning full-on lap dance routines to keep herself and the man in her life extra happy.

Pole Bend

Sheila Kelley—actress, wife, mother, entrepreneur and fitness guru—founded this original movement, after researching and preparing for her role as a stripper for the film Dancing at the Blue Iguana in 2001. The experience was transformative, resulting in a fit body and a healthy mindset.  Not long after, she installed a pole in her guest house/husband’s home office, where she began practicing ritualistically and teaching several friends, and, well, the rest is history.

Sheila Kelley demonstrates the Prancing Goddess pose

Unlike its mantra, “slow is sexy,” that started with an idea, a small group of women (and lest we forget, a pole), the S Factor has grown into an international phenomenon.

Since the birth of its Los Angeles flagship in 2003, the S Factor has spread like wildfire with 10 studios in most major cities throughout the country, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Houston.

“I’m so proud of the S Factor and what it’s done to empower women—I plan to make it a global, international company,” said Kelley, a self-proclaimed tomboy, who has come a long way from climbing trees as a kid.

The Helicopter, an advanced pole trick

With numerous appearances on Oprah as well as 20/20, 48 Hours, VH-1, The View, Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Primetime Monday, networks such as MTV and MSNBC and celebrity endorsements from Teri Hatcher, Lisa Rinna, Cindy Crawford, Lindsay Lohan and Kate Hudson (among others), it's no wonder the movement is catching on internationally too.

As over 10,000 women can testify, the S Factor is the perfect cocktail for building self-esteem, sensuality and self-empowerment.
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