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The Pussy cat Dolls are belting out their hit song and the two-legged kittens are hard at work, purring wildly. Almost everyone has long, slinky black hair that exudes sex appeal. They "claw" their way forward seductively.

"Peimin, don't mouth your timing and Virginia, you're very stiff today. You have to let go," comments Joy Leng, founder of the Sensual Joy Lifestyle Studio in Singapore, as she watches her girls rehearse for an upcoming performance.

Nope, it's not a scene out of Cats. Neither is it a dance practice. Move over traditional aerobics and Les Mills pump-combat workouts, pole dancing is the way forward. Besides the creation of titillating dance routines and a touch of the risqu6 combined to create a stimulating audio
visual experience, pole dancing is now one of the most popular ways of getting fit.

Leng likens it to a form of movement therapy where women get in touch with their inner world and learn to heighten their curves. She believes all women want to indulge in their fantasy but are too shy to take that first step.

"Pole dancing gives them a certain confidence and this can translate into other aspects of their life. Pole stunts are a means of self expression and you will be blown away by the strong, sensual creature you see in the mirror. You will be liberated by the tremendous sense of woman power," offers LengJoy Leng

Historically, it's unclear where pole classes actually originated but pole dancing took its inspiration from the lean, toned bodies of strippers. It's a workout that burns calories and builds core strength. It's all the rage in America, Europe and recently, in Asia. Though not in Malaysia yet, classes are offered at several studios in Singapore.

There are three types of women who embark on pole dancing - those who do it for themselves, those who do it to please their partners and those who want to show off. Different women respond differently. Whatever the category, everyone benefits in some way, even the formerly old-fashioned stereotypes. Women get fit, learn something and feel sexy.

"I also have some 40-somethings who want to do something fun, to make up fun the lost time in their earlier years. They may have perhaps concentrated on their careers then. And boy, they turn up the heat! I feel inspired watching them but I also advise them on their physical
limitations," Leng says, eyes glittering wi excitement. No doubt, she raised a few eyebrows when she first started operations, especially from her parents, but now, people are more accepting.

In the nine months since she opened her studio, Leng's student base has grown at phenomenal rate from 30 to 150.

A former professional dancer, the 26- year-old decided to venture into something out-of-the-ordinary. Like mo., youngsters off to get a college education, she enrolled at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts but dropped out because her inclination was towards Western dance forms and that was not being offered mt at the institution. Instead, she got into performing, choreographing and teaching. During her dancing days, occasionally Leng had to dance around poles. That marked the beginning of a new era.

"I realised I could do something with the poles. So I researched and found pole dancing was really an art form and the more I was on the pole, the more addicted I became. Besides, it's the closest thing to flying!" she says, throwing her head back.

sexproFrom watching a variety of VCDs and related material, Leng drew up her own syllabus to cater for the conservative Asian woman.

"Also, I came to a point in my life where I wanted to share. I wanted to promote a sensual lifestyle for women, to bring out their feminine side and be in control so I started the studio. My focus is on the person dancing, not on technique. I don't want it to be purely acrobatic with no element of sensuality. People can still pole dance acrobatically so the definition can be quite subjective," says Leng. Incidentally, she owns a Shih Tzu called Sensual and combined their names to come up with Sensual Joy.

Leng gets her inspiration from actress Sheila Kelley of NBCs LA Law fame (playing Arnie Becket's stunning secretary), who has redefined the term sultry.

Kelley, also a writer and producer, founded the extraordinary movement called S Factor, offering a pole dancing workout which incorporates yoga, dance and traditional stripper moves to help women harness their erotic power as a fitness routine and sexual aid.

You don't have to invest in expensive sportswear or sports shoes - that's the beauty of it. Just wear what you feel good in. Clothing is kept comfortable and usually, shorts and fitting tops are perfect. It's important to have bare arms and legs in order to get a good grip of the pole.
However, Leng prefers her students to wear a little flare skirt, as this tends to bring out the woman in them.

Pole dancing may look easy. After all, it's slow and sensual, but ask any pole dancer,and they will tell you how deceiving that
statement is.

"Your muscles are forced to work and you have to consciously be in control. In the beginning, you'll feel the arms and abs, then the
thighs get into it," Leng explains. Using a mix of new age and pop music, she starts her classes with a warm-up session on the floor, moving
on to the poles for some stretching. Then it's off the ground, climbing the poles, holding the poles in mid-air and descending. Lastly, a
routine is thrown in.

Dancers begin as kittens (beginners), progress on to princesses (intermediate) and end up as divas (advanced). Besides pole dancing, SexproLeng's studio also offers exotic dances, sensual strip classes, MTV classes and lap dance classes. Rates start at S$20 (RM46) and above for a 45-minute session, plus an annual membership fee of S$30 (RM69). But, sorry men, all classes are s-t-r-i-c-t-l-y for females only.

l'm very partit'utar and absolutely no men are allowed in when class is in session. Our classes are clean and sexy, not vulgar. It's pure sensual movement. We do NOT strip - no nudity but if they want to, I don't stop them. Initially when we started, people thought we were a massage parlour and it
was upsetting, but now, I'm able to laugh it Off," says Leng.

Kittens are not allowed to wear shoes for safety reasons but once they become princesses, strap-on heels and boots are recommended. Yes, injuries and calluses are part and parcel of the art form but over time, students become immune to it.

"It is a painful journey. You have to accept bruises all the time, especially on the knees. It is physically and mentally demanding and
while it helps to have a dance background, skills can be developed," says Leng, whose students fall into the 18-49 age group.

Ultimately, Leng hopes to be a lifestyle studio and would like to offer anything that is of interest to the modem-day woman.

"You can't go wrong advocating a lifestyle studio. So far, I've four instructors under training. I'd like to move away from teaching and get into the business development portion," she says. Pole dancing is still a niche market but Leng has come far. Last year, she was nominated for the republic's Spirit of Enterprise Award, and nominees usually have over five years of experience in a field. Clearly she is proud of her achievement.

Out of the mouth of Kittens - Injuries are common and in her quest to better herself, she overdid a backward bend and threw out her back. Luckily, it was just a minor injury and she recovered speedily. Yazliana's best stunt is the Ballerina man oeuvre where she climbs up the pole, swings one leg around and swivels down to the floor. She can manage four to five full circles on a good day.

SensUal Joy Lifestyle Studio, the first Lifestyle Studio using creative arts to inspire women in Asia!
Web Link : http://www.sensualj.com/

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