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Some unconventional places to get your sweat on 

Let's face it: No one really likes going to the gym to work out. At some spots, the smell of sweat and musk hangs in the air so thick that if you could run on the treadmill holding your breath without keeling over, you would.

So, in an effort to save you that discomfort, here are a few places that offer fitness options outside of a conventional gym facility. Namaste.

Tai Chi at The Lesbian & Gay Community Center

According to Dwayne Brown, The Lesbian & Gay Community Center is underfunded. "It's often left to the fringes in terms of funding and doesn't get the attention it needs sometimes," he says.

So that's why he volunteers his time and teaches tai chi there on Monday nights.

Each week, a small group of people gather in a studio room at the Center, located at the N.C. Music Factory, to practice this ancient Chinese martial art under Brown's instruction.

"Tai chi is an amazing art," he says. "The health benefits and mental benefits are well-documented and fits people from all levels."

Tai chi training primarily involves learning solo routines, known as forms, engaging one's energy, or chi, in combination with breathing and slow, rhythmic movement. Think of it like "a slow motion dance in a way," Brown says.

Classes are held each Monday at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $35 a month and all proceeds are donated to The Lesbian & Gay Community Center. Space is limited, so register in advance. Contact Wayne Brown at 704-469-0926 or

Pole Dance Classes at Fire My Desire Boutique

Fire My Desire, a boutique in the University area that carries lingerie, accessories, adult items and more, boasts on its website that its goal is to help women develop confidence.

Oh yeah -- and they offer pole dance classes.

Classes are offered in the store Sunday evenings in four-week sessions, with eight women in each class. Pole dance instruction lasts an hour and lap dance is 30 minutes. No need to worry about privacy -- the curtains are drawn tightly against prying eyes. And yes, you do work those biceps and triceps by swinging on that pole.

"A lot of women have enjoyed the classes, but we've had some not follow through because the classes are intense," says Yakisha Norris, manager and instructor. "It's a lot of fun, but I think women think it's going to be easy ... they realize as we teach these classes, we cram a lot in four weeks. They realize it is not easy. You're working muscles you don't normally work."

Classes are $75 for the four-week session; bring friends for discounts. Visit the store at 9605 N. Tryon St., Suite X or for more information.

Yoga at Dolce Vita, Dharma Lounge

If you've never tried yoga, don't scoff at the peaceful-looking yogis who have dedicated themselves to the art. Bending your body this way and that, sweat pouring into your eyes, the struggle to calm your rapid breathing -- it's hard work. Maybe that's why these two places are offering you the chance to check out yoga without really spending a lot of dough to do so.

Usually closed on Mondays, Dolce Vita is the meeting spot for the NoDa Yoga Group on the last Monday of each month; $10 covers the class and a complimentary glass of wine after the hour-long session. Class starts at 6:30 p.m. Call 704-334-1052 for more information.

On Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturday afternoons, you can partake in free power yoga classes at Dharma Lounge. With that humongous Buddha behind the bar, it's a perfect venue for yogis, no? Tuesday nights sessions are accompanied by DJ Jah-sun Rising. Visit for more information.


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