Tucked away behind the Trader Joe’s at McClintock Drive and Guadalupe Road is a feminine escape from the harsh landscape of Arizona. Leave behind the prickly cacti and concrete, let someone else run up “A” Mountain for a turn, and enter the welcoming doors of Express MiE for a different kind of work out.
Express MiE is gently decorated with stylish furnishings in various patterns of paisley. As you walk down the hall, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe smile down at you from their posts on the walls. To the left is a dark room full of soft red lighting and dance poles. Across the hall, women are working on their abs in the Burn by Candlelight class, doing crunches while candles flicker around them and Snow Patrol plays on a stereo.
Express MiE is dedicated to women’s fitness and beauty. The unique range of classes, from Yoga Booty Ballet to Aloha Abs, is aimed at improving women’s self-confidence. Pole-ah-tease, the studio’s popular pole dancing and Pilates fusion class, is reserved for the sensual room described above.
Burlesque Beauty, a dance fitness class described on the company’s website as, a “vintage style of dance [that] is flirty and fabulous… full of steamy moves guaranteed to heat up the room,” leads the students through a set of stretches, hair flips and dance moves that culminates in a dance routine complete with top hats for props.
Express MiE is the brainchild of founder, Christie Simmons, who in an e-mail interview described her unique background.
“I was born and raised in the heart of Utah,” she said. “Then around age 12 my mother, brother and I ended up in a cult in North Idaho where we stayed until I was 25 years old. They pulled me out of school in 9th grade and I never got to go back. I was married for 7 years in that group (arranged) and also ended up with a pituitary brain tumor during that time. But on the bright side I found dance through my desire to find something me cheer me up and keep me active near the end part of my life.”
Simmons left Northern Idaho to spend nearly twenty years running businesses and working within the corporate world.
“I do get a bit of a kick out of the fact that I have had so much fun in business with nothing beyond a 9th grade education, she said. “I joke that the reason I’m so good at providing ‘out of the box’ solutions and ideas is that I never got to see the box!”
Simmons says she hopes students leave her classes with a smile and there’s no reason why not.
Linda Ruvalcaba, who graduated from ASU in 2008 with a degree in Psychology, has been taking classes with Express MiE for just over a year.
“What I like most about Express MiE is the atmosphere the instructors create,” Ruvalcaba said in an e-mail. “They are all very kind and genuine. Pole-dancing is addicting and teaches you to love your body, no matter the shape or size.”
“Just imagine how many needless heartaches and experiences can be avoided by women who learn to love and value themselves at such an important age,” Simmons said about Express MiE’s specific appeal to the ASU student population. “I often have women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s who take my classes and tell me that for the first time in their lives, they truly feel beautiful and sexy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard them say, ‘I wish I could have known this ages ago, imagine the life I could have lived.’ Each time I get a woman in her 20s who experiences that same transition I just have to smile… She will have a completely different life that the other women can only dream about.”
If you go:
Express MiE Women’s Dance Fitness and Pole Dancing Studio.
6448 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe.
Class Schedule and hours available online.
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