Actress Sheila Kelley Puts the Female Factor into Fitness
|Sheila Kelley is credited with creating the pole dance fitness craze. Photo courtesy of S Factor fitness.|
Fitness can be sensual. It can be seductive. It can be sexy. It can be liberating. It can be empowering. It is found in the natural. It is found in the organic. It lies within. It encompasses all. For women, it is what actress Shelia Kelley (Gossip Girl, Lost, L.A. Law) defines as the S Factor -- "the deep, rich 'dark chocolate' of a woman's bodily movement, her S curve."
"Women move differently than men," Kelley stated during our phone interview earlier this week. "Men move in a linear way. Women have a curvier range of motion," she explained. It is this "S" shaped motion that first captivated Kelley when she was learning how to striptease and pole dance for her role as "Stormy" in the film Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000). It inspired her to develop a fitness program designed specifically for women which infuses striptease and pole dancing with ballet, Yoga and Pilates.
In preparation for her role as "Stormy," Kelley visited strip clubs in L.A. "I learned the curvy, organic, hyper-exaggerated movements [of erotic dance]," she noted. The mental, physical and emotional results of performing these motions are what hooked Kelley. "I became taughter and leaner quicker than I have from any other movement I have done in my life," explained Kelley, who was a dance major at New York University's Tisch School of Arts and who was a classically trained dancer with the Westmoreland Ballet Company at the age of 15 years. "I have always done movement...I love sports...my body loves to move, but nothing gave me the peace and confidence that I had in myself at the age of 36 years as did these organic movements. I learned to walk within the movement of the integrity of the feminine body. My husband (actor Richard Schiff of The West Wing) dropped his jaw, because he was so turned on by how tuned-in I was with my body," Kelley elaborated. Her demeanor and life changed so much from her experience that she wanted to share her journey with other women, so she created S Factor fitness and, as a result, has become credited with founding the pole dance fitness craze.
"The S Factor is about moving your body into its organic movement. You are curving your motion where your body naturally curves and pushing in where your body naturally goes in and pushing out where your body naturally pushes out," Kelley described. "It's about stretching out to the edge of your body's potential for movement. This is how you will become long, lean and curvy," she explained.
|S Factor fitness allows a woman to get in touch with the movement of her own body. Photo courtesy of S Factor fitness.|
S Factor fitness is about the experience of movement. "Runners like to see themselves get from here to there, but S Factor puts you into the movement. It is all about the journey of movement rather than the destination," stated Kelley. "Pushing your body into its curves heightens your sexuality," she noted. This is empowering for women and this confidence carries over into everyday life.
Humans are sexual beings and women should be free to embrace their sexuality. To embrace it doesn't mean you are exploiting it. To be sexy is to be healthy, it is inherent to your being. S Factor creates a wholesome sexuality because you are visiting the organic you. Research findings published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (2008) revealed that a woman's gait is naturally altered based on what stage of her menstrual cycle she is in, to which men are attuned to these changes in her walking pattern.
|To be sexy is to be healthy. Photo courtesy of S Factor fitness.|
Kelley's S Factor fitness workout is a copyrighted sequence of movements that are taught in studios located in Los Angeles, Encino, Costa Mesa in Orange County, San Francisco, New York, Houston and Chicago. The studios are dimly lit and contain no mirrors to ensure women can explore their "S" uninhibited. She also currently has six DVDs for sale for home use. Her original series includes feminine movements designed to accentuate a woman's S Curve and to awaken what Kelley calls the "Erotic Creature." Her "Soulfully Sexy" DVD series expands on this concept and introduces new routines of varying intensities. Coming out this March is a new S Factor workout program called "Fluid Feminine Movement" which Kelley describes as a strenuous program that uses a woman's own body weight to push her body past the boundaries. This latter series does not introduce the striptease and pole dance aspect, but concentrates more on learning about the female body and how it is built to move.
Kelley's advice to women who may be leery about embracing their wholesome sexuality is this: "Every and any woman can find her "S." It is the voice of her body and it is a crime to not awaken it. You are the definition of your own beauty. If you choose to ignore it, it will be ignored. If you choose to acknowledge and explore it, it will blossom. You cannot go through life without letting your body live to its fullest potential of movement, because within that movement is joy."
To learn more about Sheila Kelley's S Factor fitness, register for a class or retreat, or to purchase her DVDs and books, visit her website at http://www.sfactor.com/.
Phone Interview: Sheila Kelley, December 19, 2011.
Arch Sex Behav (2008) 37:598-604.