In a recent interview with international speaker Sheila Kelley, author of The S Factor: Strip Workouts For Every Woman, we learn about her work as the creator and founder of S-Factor, that began as pole-fitness and transformed into a feminine movement practice; through which women discover the energy and essence of their everyday and erotic body, while learning to reclaim their power.
*Lauren K. Clark: How do you see S Factor in its combating of eating disorders?
Sheila Kelley: S Factor is a movement practice, that brings women into a loving relationship with their bodies. We help women feel more present in their bodies; to be fully expressed in their feminine nature. And, if this helps some women overcome body issues, that’s great. It definitely helped me.
*Lauren K. Clark: Talk to us about your particular journey into the knowledge of holistic femininity. When in your womanhood did you decide to connect to the world of the sacred feminine arts?
Sheila Kelley: I was just like the women in this society-living within the masculine world, pushing my feminine self into box. When I first opened my mind to the feminine movement, it was as if I was preparing for a role. Over 20 years ago, rehearsing for my role as a stripper in the film, Dancing At The Blue Iguana, I worked with two beautiful dancers. They taught me how to move; how to really embody by feminine self, and something cracked open, and allowed me to embody my feminine nature for the first time. This cracking open felt like the snapping of chains, that had held me captive in my own body. Chains, that had restricted me from living, unapologetically, out loud in my feminine form. I was compelled to dive in, learn as much as I could, and share it.
“The masculine world teaches us to compete with each other, that life is a race and there are only a handful of winners. Masculine cultures shows us that we must face off against each other and win. Our feminine nature says something different. When women embrace our feminine nature, we can come together in community and lift each other up. None of us are the same, but we all contribute to the communal good.”Sheila Kelley
Lauren K. Clark: If you could paint a painting of the modern woman, entering into the gardens, to heal in the feminine arts, what would it look like?
Sheila Kelley: When I think of the modern woman, I don’t see a specific person. I feel an energy. I feel a nurturing, caring, open, soft, strong, emotive feminine energy. When I think of someone entering the gardens to heal with feminine arts, I think of a ball of energy; a ball of light opening into a communal space of similar energies to heal and grow, together.
Lauren K. Clark: What colors would you use to describe the Strip Down & Rise trailer? Why?
Sheila Kelley: Purple, red, and orange. Purple is the color of royalty, and we are all queens in our own lives; whether we know it or not. Red for the fire of womanhood, and orange for the warm glow of Sisterhood-what happens when we join our fires, together.
“Personally, I was in love with my moontime. I felt the deep ache of the connection my body has with life, through cramps and the coming of my blood. I felt one with the planet. One with nature and in sync with the Universe. The feminine body is the way.”Sheila Kelley
Lauren K. Clark: Why is the S Factor a powerful tool for pregnant women? Corporate women? Elder women? Housewives?
Sheila Kelley: S Factor is a powerful tool for ANY woman. Pregnant women are in a truly unique moment in their bodies. Embracing their feminine nature and understanding their intuition, during pregnancy, allows them to connect with what they are experiencing. It’s also a unique opportunity to be truly forced to center yourself in your body, to center your physical experience. Corporate women might have a sense of their own power, but they have that sense within the masculine world. Just imagine what these women could accomplish if they embraced their feminine power? If we can use the strengths we’ve been taught in the masculine world, and learn to embrace the strengths of our feminine selves, we can truly succeed as individuals; and as a community of empowered, embodied women. As women age, we move through so many stages of being. We do not “age out” of our beauty, as the patriarchy would have us believe. And yet, so many of us have fallen into that trap of feeling invisible, as we mature. I believe we have the opportunity to re-discover our beauty continously at each stage of our lives. I don’t refer to women as older women. I refer to them as majestic women. Majestic like the redwoods and the mountains and the eternity of the ocean. Majestic women are even more gorgeous, powerful, and more feminine than younger women. I am in awe of the Majestic women, who surround me. I want to to kneel at the altar of their wisdom. I want to learn the secrets of the ages, through their voices and their eyes. S Factor meets every woman, where they are at the journey through life, and helps them re-center themselves in their feminine beings. Whether you’re pregnant, working, or becoming Majestic as you mature. S Factor provides tools for women to become fully embodied and embrace the feminine at every step of their lives. It is always the right time to reclaim the brilliance of your feminine nature.
Lauren K. Clark: Who are some of your role models, when it comes to women in the empowerment movement? When it comes to women’s bodies?
Sheila Kelley: I like to think of it as being inspired by women, rather than seeing women as role models. We can all be each other’s role models, no matter our ages. You don’t need to come before me to inspire me, you know. I just saw a photo of Zaila Avant-Garde, the first Black American winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee; and the photo of her when she won was so powerful-she was almost dancing across the stage! You can tell in that photo, that she is truly embodied; truly experiencing the world in and through her body. I later learner that she is a Guiness Book Award winner, for several basketball tricks, and it makes sense. She really made me smile, when I saw her take the stage and her award-pure physical joy.
Lauren K. Clark: If you could take a photograph (or paint a picture) of feminine energy, what would that look like?
Sheila Kelley: Wild and sexy and free constantly fluctuating like the winds. It would be a curvaceous, boundless, round, always evolving and always moving. Passing through all the colors of the rainbow to signify all the emotions we have and embrace as feminine brings.
*Lauren K. Clark: When looking at feminine energy, what is your interpretation of a woman’s moon time (menstrual cycle)? Do you think it should be a requirement for women to have paid off time, during that time? Why so?
Sheila Kelley: I, too, refer to a woman’s menstrual cycle, as her moontime. There is a beautiful, Native American ritual, that I love and am deeply inspired by. The Yurok tribes’ women would seclude themselves for 10 days, every month, during their moontime. They would travel up the mountain to a body of water they called, The Moontime Pond. ? There, they would swim and bathe and commune with nature. Then, they would dive down into the waters to collect the shells on the bottom of the lake. These shells were used in their tribe, as currency. She would return to the tribe wealthier and healthier, than when she left. For the women of the Yurok tribe, their moontime was the most sacred time of their lives. A time to connect to the other world, and to touch the hand of the goddess. There is a powerful book I studied at NYU called, Blood Magic, by Alma Gottlieb. It tells this tale, among many others.
Personally, I was in love with my moontime. I felt the deep ache of the connection my body has with life, through cramps and the coming of my blood. I felt one with the planet. One with nature and in sync with the universe. The feminine body is the way.
Lauren K. Clark: What were some of the most painful moments for you in creating the Netflix documentary, Strip Down, Rise Up?
Sheila Kelley: Creating Strip Down, Rise Up was an absolute dream. Every moment in front of the camera, and behind, was a revelation. I would pinch myself every day knowing that this journey, which was so challenging to describe with mere words, was going to finally be seen by the whole world for what it was-a vital missing element of our daily lives. The director Michele Ohayon is brilliant. She is unrelenting in her search for truth. I entrusted her with the realization of the film; and she delivered a Soul-searching, sexy tribute to S Factor; and the power of feminine movement to radically transform women’s bodies and lives.
Lauren K. Clark: How has mainstream, television culture broken (and have caused fragments) in feminine Sisterhood? How do we get it back, and present it to the mainstream?
Sheila Kelley: The masculine world teaches us to compete with each other, that life is a race; and there are only a handful of winners. Masculine culture shows us, that we must face off against each other and win. Our feminine nature says something different. When women embrace our feminine nature, we can come together in community and lift each other up. None of us are the same, but we all contribute to the communal good. Mainstream TV culture, and the entertainment industry at large, pits women against each other. This is a value of our masculine society. We must break free of it and realize that there is room for each and all of us; and that by coming together, working together, and telling our feminine stories, we can ALL succeed. Strip Down, Rise Up, the Netflix documentary featuring S Factor, is a first step of presenting content, that shows women supporting women. Women guiding women and the resuscitation of the feminine culture, that disappeared so long ago.
Lauren K. Clark: What is the wake-up call that women in the workplace need to have, when it comes to sacred, feminine energy? (i.e. Bullying, Aggression, Silent Violence)
Sheila Kelley: The problems in the entertainment industry are everywhere. We need to combat the masculine “winning” culture and replace it with feminine communal values.
We also need to lean into our intuition, even in business settings. We should rely on logical decision-making, as we have been taught, but also seriously consider the “git feelings” we get, as well. By treating our intuition as equal to logic, we can be more empowered to make decisions, with all the tools at our disposal. By using our feminine superpowers, we can compete more effectively-even in a masculine world. Why not use all the tools at our disposal? We’ve already been taught how to use the masculine ones, now we can add to our arsenals for success with feminine tools, as well.
Lauren K. Clark: What makes the feminine body, healing and beautiful simultaneously?
Sheila Kelley: Have you heard of the Japanese art of Kintsugi? In this artwork, artists repair fine ceramics, using liquid gold. It’s a precarious process, and extremely challenging to do properly. But, when the form is finally repaired, its cracks are glowing and sparkling gold. It is more valuable as a repaired object, than before it was ever broken. This is a woman. We are broken by the world over and over in our lives, but as we re-build ourselves, we become more beautiful, everytime. Not because we are perfect, not because we look unbroken, but because the way in which we have healed from our breaking points, has made us even more valuable.
Lauren K. Clark: Identify three colors or shapes, which defines you.
Sheila Kelley: I feel like an S. I am curved and in motion. I am sensual. I am not the straight edges of the male form. I work to embrace every S shape within myself: in my body, in my mind, and in my emotions. I embody S in doing this. I embrace every emotion I have, so that I am each and all the colors of the rainbow. Our emotability is one of our superpowers, and by using each emotion, good or bad, as fuel, we can move ourselves forward in our lives towards joy, love, peace, and communal success. And lastly, I am the shape of water always flowing, hard to capture, and the sustenance of life on the planet.
ABOUT SHEILA KELLEY
Sheila has been featured on Oprah, Ellen, TEDx, and Tony Robbins’ retreats. She is a regular speaker on stages worldwide; frequently featured in top-tier magazines, national radio programs, and podcasts. Sheila is the author of The S Factor: Strip Workouts For Every Woman, and has created several DVDs, including Sheila Kelley S Factor 1: The Beginning, The S Factor 2: Immediate With Lap Dance, and Sheila Kelley–S Factor–Polework 101.
A certified Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) facilitator and graduate of NYU’s Tisch School Of The Arts with a BFA, Sheila studied ballet, anatomy, physiology, women’s studies, psychology, and female neurology, all of which have influenced her S Factor curriculum and philosophy. In addition, she is certified in Somatic Psychotherapy and Practices from Antioch University; having studied independently for four years, with Stanley Keleman-the pioneer of somatic therapy.
To stay up-to-date with SHEILA KELLEY, and her work, go on the following links: