cardio striptease

Every Tuesday, 6 pm

Maverick's Sports Club 2025 NW Overton (503) 228-2626

$15 per class, free with a membership

Ashkan Amouzegar is not the typical fitness instructor. He wears a pink tanktop with strategically ripped sleeves dangling seductively around his elbows. His hair has been sculpted into a sharp point reminiscent of Astro Boy. He wears a dreamy, yet exhilarated smile. He is ready to work it.

"Okay!" he hollers. "Let's take it from the top!" His voice is breathy, high-pitched, and resonant all at once. He hits play on the CD player and Madonna's "Human Nature" fills the air. The class has spent the last half-hour learning their dance. This will be their first full run-through.

The steps are simple: strut, turn, press against the wall, writhe, drop to the floor, writhe, pop back up, repeat. But as the class progresses, and the group gets more and more comfortable with the routine, an amazing thing happens: they get into it. Booties slide up and down the walls, heads are tossed lustily, a cute blonde who was hesitant to even take the class downward-dogs to the ground like an old pro.

"That was so hot! Oh, My god, that was so hot!" Ashkan gasps. He presents the blonde with an award he gives out every week: "Best transition from the Mickey Mouse Club to the Stripclub." She and the rest of the group depart, beaming hugely. Liberation has occurred.

This is why Ashkan's new class, Cardio Striptease, transcends the typical aerobics class. It is a good workout, yes, and yes it is fun, but even better, its main focus is to make people feel secure in their bodies.

"My goal is to make people feel more comfortable with their bodies," says Ashkan. "It's not about getting naked or being raunchy. I want people to feel comfortable expressing themselves... I want people to look in the mirror and say 'I am beautiful,' to accept that they do have nice bodies and that they can be strippers."

Yes, wonderful, but do the participants actually strip?

"Most people get down to spandex shorts and sports bras," Ashkan says. "I hope eventually people get naked, but only if they're comfortable with it."

After all, Ashkan Amouzegar's Cardio Striptease isn't about stripping away clothes, it's about stripping away self-loathing so that only love remains. Wannabe voyeurs might be disappointed. People who wish to be free from the chains of body image will feel like they've finally come home. JUSTIN SANDERS