For just a few short weeks leading up to filming, Lopez trained hard with choreographer and Cirque du Solei performer Johanna Sapakie, who brought her personal pole right into J.Lo’s living room. As if learning to pole dance wasn’t hard enough, Lopez had to wear six-inch heels and a G-string thong come shoot day in front of a crowded audience. (No pressure, though!)
Watch the intense training footage below...
Lopez said she really really wanted to get into her character as lead hustler Ramona and convince everyone that she’s a pro on the pole. “I’m not trying to look like I could be in Cirque du Solei and be like a top acrobat in the world,” Lopez says in the video. “I’m just trying to look convincing [as if] I’ve been stripping for awhile, I’m comfortable on this pole, and I’m also comfortable with my game because my character really has the hustle down.
To us, it looks like J.Lo has been dancing like this for years—but of course, she has been dancing since she was young, has spent hours performing on stage during her It’s My Party tour, and is a total beast at the gym.
But pole dancing was completely new territory: Sapakie taught J.Lo how to grip, slide, rotate, and move down the pole, all while maintaining effortless sex appeal. Naturally, J.Lo’s trainer was so impressed with her willingness to learn and how quickly she was able to pick everything up—especially while holding herself on the pole for three minutes at a time as she learned each new move.
Lopez also talked about wanting to learn all of the mechanics of stripping before getting into the actual choreography of Ramona’s entrance. “This is her intro, the first time you see her—so it’s sexy, it’s dangerous,” Lopez says in the video. “I’m just learning how you go upside down, what hand to put on there to do a spin, not to spin too fast, how [to] slide down the pole, and then we can get to character stuff like how she’s got the whole game on lock.”
Learning the basics was no easy feat for the insanely fit actress. As she leans down to stretch (while flashing her six-pack abs), Lopez points out the stream of bruises and redness that cover her legs, which her trainer says is very common for pole dancers.
“It’s rough on your body. It’s real acrobatics,” she says. “But I’m just learning the mechanics right now, because strippers have lots of time to practice. They work the club every night, so they start learning little by little, but we have to do a crash course.”
“I mean this is just as hard as everything I’ve ever learned,” she continues. “It may be one of the hardest. I’ve gotten cuts and bruises from movies, but I’ve never been bruised like this for anything I’ve done.”
On the day of filming, you can see J.Lo stretching in the video and getting in the zone. “I’m going for ‘get money,’ and the guys coming in here they want sexy, slutty, dirty, fantasy,” she says.
After she stepped on stage and flawlessly nailed her sexy performance, the entire audience—including real strip club workers—praised her for how natural she looked. While she said there was a “G-string up her back” and her boobs and butt were flying around stage, she said that “it felt good” overall.
“OK I feel like I’m crying a bit,” she says. “What am I doing with my life. So epic.” Epic indeed, J.Lo. Don’t miss the premiere of Hustlers in theatres September 13.
This article originally appeared on Prevention US.