GREENPOINT — A new pole dancing fitness studio opening in Greenpoint is offering specially tailored classes for students of all ages and genders — including women who might otherwise think they're "too old" for pole dancing.
Brooklyn Pole Dance Studio owner Sally Sutton, 51 — a former longtime exotic dancer who uses her stage name — didn't anticipate having a special class just for mature women at her new studio, located at 832 Manhattan Ave.
But she said she was bombarded by requests from women in their 60s looking to do pole dancing for exercise. So Sutton launched "Pole for Seniors," a low-impact dance class technically geared toward people aged 65 and over but is open to all ages, she said.
The class music will include a lot of '70s funk and sexy songs from older soul artists like Al Green and Barry White. And students will leave the more advanced exotic dancer moves to the pros — instead primarily using the floor-to-ceiling poles for dancing, stretching and basic exercises, Sutton said.
"I think it will be really good for them," she said. "They have the pole to hold onto. They'll feel stable with their bends and stretches. They’ll be holding onto the pole, just dancing and feeling good about themselves."
Sutton said one of her pole dancing classes will be designed just for men, while another will cater to plus-size women, with certified pole dance teachers leading the classes. Girls under 18 can also join in with a permission slip from their parents, said Sutton, whose 16-year-old daughter plans to start taking classes, too.
Sutton, who was born and raised in Greenpoint, said she's long been an advocate for pole dancing as a form of exercise and female empowerment, well before pole dancing studios and competitions became mainstream.
She worked as an exotic dancer in six different states — from topless and nude bars to bikini and glamour ones — starting in the 1990s.
Once she began, she quickly noticed a difference in her body, including more defined and stronger muscles, she said. Sutton said she wanted to open a pole dancing fitness studio for women back then, but the exercise was still synonymous with men, addiction and partying.
"Nobody wanted to hear the female voice," said Sutton, "Now that women are taking it out and turning it into a sport, we have a time to make it positive."
Since then, she's raised three children (and a grandchild), gotten a real estate license and opened a consignment shop called The Back Room Consignment.
Last year, when the store flooded and lost all its merchandise, Sutton decided it was finally time to open a pole dance studio in the space.
The studio also offers other classes including yoga, chair dancing, belly dancing and burlesque.
No matter the experience level, body type or age, people can come in and work out at their own pace, Sutton said.
"We just want everybody to have a good time," she said. "It’s like a big playroom."