I was sitting in the lobby of S Factor, nervously fidgeting in my yoga pants and pretending something exciting was happening on my cell phone, when a girl—a gorgeous, “I’m an actress” kind of girl—asked me if it was my “first time.” Feeling like she’d just called me a virgin, I blushed and nodded. I wonder what gave it away. My all black outfit? The look of terror on my face? “You’ll love it,” she said. Don’t bank on it, I thought.

Celebrities like Teri Hatcher, Kate Hudson and Lisa Rinna have long promoted S Factor and pole dancing as the exercise that empowers women. And because tons of celebrities can’t be wrong, I am participating in an S Factor workout, to see for myself whether or not this exercise really is empowering, or simply about pleasing a man.

But before we start, let’s make one thing clear. I may appreciate the way my legs look in a pair of killer stilettos and a miniskirt, but I am no sexpot. And in addition to my fear and some see-through stilettos, I am carrying a fair bit of contempt in my gym bag. Like my sister-in-law puts it: “When they start a stripping class for men, I’ll come watch— with my cigar.” As I’m led into the warm up, all I can think is how I want to prove this activity unpleasant.

I get on my hands and knees and start doing really slow push ups. My arms are trembling, but under the watchful eye of my instructor, Anjua, I feel the pressure to perform, so I keep going, more worried about looking foolish than collapsing dead in front of her. My reason for impressing her? She is hot. She’s tall, skinny, oozes sex appeal and yes—is the mother of a small child. When she flies around the pole she looks like an acrobat from a Cirque du Soleil show. I want to be like her. So, with only her as my mirror, I’m lying on the floor touching my body. I discover creases, like the one above my lips where sweat gathers before it runs across your mouth. I quickly sneak a peak at Anjua. If she looks hot, maybe I do too. Keeping that in mind, I arch my back and drop my head back toward the floor.