The latest fitness craze among women in China is pole dancing, and it has nothing to do with strippers, reports the New York Times. Drawn for the exercise, camaraderie, and confidence boost, women are flocking to a growing number of gyms and dance classes offering it. Even without the seedy strip-club connections, however, the trend is raising eyebrows.
“People here have never seen a pole dance, and for that reason they don’t associate it with stripping or women of ill repute,” says the Chinese woman credited with importing the fitness regimen. But the sexual movements offend some in a culture that has long frowned on such things, even though the women keep their clothes on. “Five years ago, this wouldn’t have been permitted,” says one.