I love when entrepreneurs take an activity that most people never dream of doing and mix it with fitness. That means taking the basics, breaking it down and making it easy for the average person.
There are many fitness classes that have done this such as Cross Fit, which looks a lot like farm work. Turbo Kickboxing is mixed martial arts fighting with a hip-hop groove. Cardio Salsa is salsa dancing without a partner so you can push yourself to sweat. Now fitness instructor Tricia Truax is bringing Belly Dancing Body Fitness to the gym.
If you like exotic music and you enjoy dancing, belly dancing is a low impact option that will give you an intense core workout.
A real belly dancer is mesmerizing to watch and can do some impressive moves with her hips. This class has simplified the moves to allow you to feel like an exotic dancer yourself while you tone your middle and strengthen muscles for a stronger back and hips.
Dance is my preferred exercise activity so I took a weekend belly dancing fitness training.
I suffer from arthritis in my lower back and I’m always looking to strengthen my core to keep it from getting worse. I thought after three days of attempting snake moves and hip shakes my back would be screaming. After the first day I was tired and a little sore because of using new muscles but after the third day I was not in any pain and actually felt stronger.
While being trained I was paying very close attention to the muscles I was using, trying to keep a good posture and work through every movement. I was worried for nothing and have come to the conclusion that my back liked it and I should do more.
Take a look at the mechanics for belly dancing.
- One of the first moves you’ll do in belly dancing is a hip shake. I thought I would master this move. In Zumba class I can spaz out and shake with the best of them. In belly dancing it’s called a hip shimmy and there are several versions. It’s actually a controlled movement and is initiated with the knees bending as the gluteus medius or upper hip muscles force the side ways motion.
- Hip lifts are then added calling on flexors in the front of the pelvis and oblique muscles in the stomach. The tension shimmy, a move that looks like your stomach is vibrating calls for an intense control of the muscles in the legs, hips into the lower back.
- The twist I think my lower back liked most. It’s not the Chubby Checker variety of the 60’s with a big booty sway but again, more controlled. It is initiated by pushing one hip forward at a time, gradually going faster. I could feel the rotation in my spine. It was similar to a back exercise given to me by my physical therapist.
The undulations, the forward snake like motion, are what really stretch out the spine and force the back muscles to work. If done wrong you could injure yourself. With practice you can learn to duck and snake under and back while rolling the belly and pelvis. This will take the muscles along the spine and into the hips through a full range of motion. The repetitive movement strengthens and releases synovial fluid, a joint lubricant that protects and aids in healing.
By adding “fitness” to this dance method there is an emphasis on bigger movement. The arms are kept lifted and constantly in motion and traveling across the floor make this more of a workout than you’d think. I’d estimate you could burn at least 300-400 calories in an hour of belly dancing.
The extra bonus of doing belly dancing is it will give you a mental lift and boost of self-confidence and relieve stress.
With consistency you can lose weight. Dancers have also testified that it has aided in digestion and relieved menstrual cramps.
I can say the ladies who joined in the master belly dancing class preceding the training had a blast. It was an activity outside of their normal routine and they were surprised they broke a sweat and felt muscle fatigue after belly dancing.
It was also a huge confidence boost as they realized, Yes! I can do this!
Always consult with your doctor before undertaking any exercise program.