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Shake (and Shimmy!) Up Your Exercise

By Amanda

Face it, your weekly exercise routine is stale. Whether you’re a gym rat or get your fitness on in the great outdoors, it’s easy to fall into a rut. Avoid the inevitable and try mixing up the weekly grind with a belly dance workout!

I took my first belly dance class my senior year of college. I wasn’t looking for a workout as much as I was looking for an excuse to learn some sexy moves (a la Shakira) all while wearing a jingly coin belt. Latina pop star moves and costuming aside, I quickly found that I loved the art of belly dance and was pleased with the fitness gains I was making! I was seeing results that I hadn’t through conventional exercise (hello, core muscles and posture!) and also felt my self-esteem get a huge boost. You try shimmying in front of your significant other and tell me that you don’t feel instantly sex-ay.

Now, before you get the wrong idea (my belly dance teacher will KILL me if she finds out I am telling everyone that belly dancing is just sexy exercise), belly dance is a beautiful art form with a rich and colorful history that not only benefits your body but is also a fun way to spice up your weekly workouts. Belly dance focuses on total body muscle control and isolations, joint movements as well as balance, flexibility and strength. Belly dance is a great way to exercise while building self-confidence through self-expression in an art form that embraces all body types and experience levels.

Despite the benefits that belly dancing can bring to your current fitness routine, it does take a bit of courage to jiggle and roll in a room full of strangers. Your first experience may leave you feeling awkward and FAR from the sexy goddess you imagined, but have faith. Just like any new skill, the more you do it, the better you’ll be!

If you’re interested in learning how to belly dance but afraid to shake your money maker in public, there are plenty of great DVDs that can help you get started before embarking on a class setting. There are many different styles of belly dance so try a few to see what suits your personality!

How to find a class near you:

Belly Dance Classes

DVDs:

Belly Dance for Beginners with Suhaila: Fitness Fusion Jazz, $9.99

Learn belly dance basics from renowned, international performer and teacher of belly dance, Suhaila Salimpour.

Contemporary Bellydance and Yoga Conditioning with Ariellah, $16.99

Ariellah skillfully leads you though a yoga workout, belly dance drills as well as choreography for those feeling brave to put the moves together.

Bellydance Fitness for Beginners: Slim Down, $9.98

Starring Veena and Neena Bidasha, learn the basics of Egyptian belly dance with a full body workout incorporating strength and cardiovascular moves.

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Afraid of the freshman 15, Amanda quickly found herself a staple in the University’s group exercise classes. She enjoyed them so much she studied and trained to earn her group fitness instructor certification through AFAA in 2001. Amanda has taught a wide range of group exercise classes from Hip Hop to Kickboxing and everything in between including Mat and Reformer Pilates which she earned certification for in 2005. Amanda LOVES exercises that offer a challenge physically and mentally and is always seeking out new and fun ways to keep her body fit and healthy! She loves her weekly belly dance class and is a running fool, running her first half-marathon in May 2008. Currently Amanda is trying to find the balance between her previously “work till you drop” workouts and something that won’t kill her because she and her husband are excitedly awaiting their first child at the end of December.

Amanda can be found at her freelance site and her blog.

3 Responses to “Shake (and Shimmy!) Up Your Exercise”

  1. Cookie Says:

    Thanks for the great post on belly dancing. It sounds like fun and I think I’m going to pick up one of the videos you recommended.

  2. Amanda Says:

    Thanks! You’ll have to let me know which one you pick up and if you like it!

  3. Okwes Says:

    Good article! I’ve been doing it for years. It’s nice to read something that doesn’t just focus on the bad stigma it has gotten thru the years.

    Don’t forget to check out local teachers in your area!

    It’s easy to find on the internet, and most of them will let you watch before taking the plunge!

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