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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

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 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

Phone Interview: Sheila Kelley, December 19, 2011.

Arch Sex Behav (2008) 37:598-604.

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Blogger Diana Guess said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 22, 2011 at 8:08 AM 
Blogger SheilaKelleySFactor said...

Diana, many or maybe even most of our students learn this technique of feminine fitness without a personal trainer, just come to S Factor. We will teach you. You do not have to be a gymnast! This is the beauty of S.

December 23, 2011 at 9:29 AM 
Anonymous Shikendra said...

No personal trainer required.
The necessary requirements include your willingness to do the following:
1. Embrace your curves and the beautiful person that you are;
2. Think outside the box; try something different
3. Be a little selfish with yourself- if there is as S studio near you; take an intro class.
This will provide you with an opportunity to experience S. who knows u might like it. ;-)
I have been a student since April 2010.

December 23, 2011 at 10:27 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a current S Factor student in NYC, I can honestly tell you Diana Guess, no, you do not have to be a gymnast to do this. The S Factor teachers are so talented that any female can learn to do all of the movements and pole tricks. I didn't even start classes until I was 41 and I can do what Sheila is doing in that first photo!!

December 23, 2011 at 10:34 AM 
Anonymous m. said...

The above comment has got it all wrong. I have taken S Factor for many years and we have people of all shapes and sizes. You do not need to be in shape to take S factor - you GET in shape taking S Factor. I started as a 40 y.o. mom of a 3 y.o carrying some extra pregnancy pounds. I now have abs of steal. S Factor has a whole warmup/strengthening workout and then you learn pole tricks one by one. You do not start out inverting and flipping around on poles. You start with spinning tricks and add new tricks after mastering old ones. Don't get me wrong, it is a tough workout, but you are there to get in shape. But you take pride in your small accomplishments (I did all my push ups without putting my knees down!) and get stronger every week.

In addition to the physical workout, there is also a mental (and for some, an emotional one) journey. It is about connecting with the sensual side of yourself and not just the mask we all wear in everyday life.

I could go on and on about S, but I would suggest just trying it. A class speaks so much more than my words.

December 23, 2011 at 11:39 AM 
Anonymous Emyli Z. said...

Best thing that can happen to your body, soul and spirit...that's all I can say. I've been a student nearly 6 years and nothing has filled me whole like S Factor does. So blessed and grateful to have it in my life.

Try once and you'll be hooked! Guaranteed!!

December 23, 2011 at 1:18 PM 
Anonymous Carolyn F. said...

S Factor is the most fun, healthy, delicious dance and fitness program I've ever been in. The teachers are wonderful, nurturing, passionate and inspirational. And our master teacher Sheila who is the divine leader of the S Factor program... she is inspirational beyond belief!! I agree with Emily, I am forever grateful to have found S Factor!!

December 24, 2011 at 5:24 PM 
Anonymous Anne B said...

I have your book/DVD series (the first one I think). It's great, but I haven't had the opportunity to try my skills on the pole. I know I'd love it. I've always been flexible and took some gymnastics and ballet growing up, continuing fitness throughout my life. I sure wish you had locations around North Georgia. Maybe one of these days I'll invest in my own fitness pole.

December 27, 2011 at 11:49 PM 

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