LAKE IN THE HILLS – Linda Costoff is not breeding strippers – she’d like to make that clear – but sometimes the 44-year-old mother of three wonders whether some people hold that perception of her business.
It’s a fitness center built on empowering women through several upbeat exercise classes. But one class in particular at Costoff’s Intrigue Fitness in Lake in the Hills tends to raise a few eyebrows: pole-dancing.
“You get a lot more from this mentally than you do many other exercises,” Costoff said. “It gives you so much more confidence in yourself and your body. ... And it brings that femininity into the exercise, which you don’t get with a lot of other things.”
Costoff opened the business at 9115 Trinity Drive, Lake in the Hills, a year ago. In addition to pole classes, the center offers hula hoop classes, mat pilates, a conditioning class called the “Sculpt n’ Sweat Circuit,” and a cardio dance class called “Booty Beat.” Intrigue also caters to private parties and offers individual training sessions.
A former branch manager of a large corporate company, Costoff spent 13 years as a stay-at-home mother. She was back in school studying information technology when she saw a Groupon for a pole-dancing exercise class in Chicago.
After unsuccessful attempts to summon friends to join her, Costoff went anyway. It was an uneasy feeling, driving all the way to Chicago to enter a world she knew almost nothing about.
But she quickly fell in love with it, and she found she had a natural ability. When her friends started asking Costoff to teach them, she decided to open her own place.
“I dropped out of school to be a pole dancer,” she said, laughing. “That’s kind of my joke.”
In the early stages, Costoff geared her marketing toward the other classes, trying to avoid the stigma associated with pole-dancing.
But she found that many of her customers were most interested in the pole classes, which Costoff says offer unmatched upper body and core workouts.
She’s recently refocused her marketing efforts toward pole-dancing.
The center offers four beginner classes, which customers purchase on a class-by-class basis before deciding whether they want to proceed with an eight-week session.
Some customers come in simply to try out pole-dancing, Costoff said, but there’s a considerable group in it for the fitness gains.
Melinda Newman, of Algonquin, said she was a little uneasy about the stigma involved with attending a pole-dancing class when she started nine months ago, but those doubts have faded.
“It’s a completely different use of your muscles,” she said. “Just the upper body strength that you have to gain.”
Newman, a mother of three boys, also attends some of the other classes Intrigue offers.
“A lot of us are young mothers that go there,” she said. “It brings back the sexiness after having all these kids. Your body is just not the same, and it allows us to get that femininity back that we lose after having children.”