Teri Hatcher, Christina Applegate, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Bachelor Bob Guiney are all devotees. Carmen Electra and Sheila Kelly have turned the trend into lucrative business ventures. Oprah has even showcased the fad on her show. What is it that all of these celebrities have in common? You guessed it– they are all fans of the strip aerobics fitness craze.

Apparently, Bartlett, Tennessee city officials don’t view strip aerobics as favorably. Earlier this July, Bartlett entrepreneur and classically-trained ballet dancer Rachael Vint sought to make her soon-to-be-opened fitness studio, Eccentric Studios, particularly eccentric by installing stripper poles. Although Vint’s classes would be fully-clothed, women-only events, Bartlett city officials did not take too kindly to this business concept and issued a stop order, refusing to let the studio open its doors. According to the officials and Bartlett’s mayor, regardless of Vint’s intent behind installing the stripper poles, their presence qualified the fitness studio as an adult-oriented business. And, unfortunately for Vint, sexually-oriented businesses are subject to zoning laws.

Vint chose to fight the city and was allowed to keep her stripper poles and open Eccentric Studios’ doors about a week later. Vint also took home a $20,000 settlement after the town’s aldermen decided to take their lawyer’s advice and settle with the business.

At first glance, Bartlett’s decision seems illogical– how can a fully-clothed fitness class be “adult-oriented”? A rational person might assume that the answer’s in the law; however, glancing at the city’s zoning ordinances and business ordinances does not make the city’s decision appear any more logical. It seems that sexually-oriented businesses include adult arcades, adult motels, even nude art studios, but the ordinances are too narrow to leave the door open enough to forbid “strip to fit” classes. A closer reading by Bartlett officials might have saved the city $20,000. Perhaps Vint was right when she said, “I think when it comes down to it, we live in the Bible belt.”

— Britt Doolittle

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