A Dainty Diary of Lifting

Adventures in Fitness: Beginner Belly dancing

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The Fitness Studio at the Taggart YMCA

Last night I went I went to my first belly dancing class. I did not get lost and end up in the fitness studio by accident. Shockingly, I signed up in good conscious for this class a couple of weeks ago with a friend. The class fits into my schedule, and I was looking for something low-impact to do on my off days from lifting, and I wanted to try something new. I was on the lookout for a dance class to take because I kind of miss Zumba. Zumba was fun even though it killed me when I was 232lbs and couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without stopping for a breather and/or snack half way up. Even though I’m not a great (or even good) dancer, I found that dancing helped improve my co-ordination and my body awareness. Since dancing doesn’t come instinctively to me, I feel like I need to be engaged 100% mentally – which is a different experience from lifting, where I workout until my brain feels woozy, or running, where my brain just deserts me because running is literally the most boring exercise ever.

So that’s what I was thinking when I signed up for belly dancing class. But then I was nervous all day because I had NO IDEA what to expect.

I work late on Thursdays, so I took the bus to the gym afterwards and I went for a run on the treadmill beforehand. I brought my dinner out to the park across from the gym and ate and did some homework, and then met up with the sucker friend that I convinced to take this class with me.

When we walked in, the instructor was wearing the full on suit, with tight beaded top and long skirt. I obviously had some expectations because the sight threw me for a loop: not the kind of thing I’m used to seeing in a gym environment. She also provided skirts with beads and coins for all of us to wear and I need to rethink my attire for next class. My running wear seemed a little schluppy compared to everyone else. There were 5 or 6 other women in the class with us, and when we introduced ourselves I found out that some of them have taken the class before.

The instructor also gave us a bit of background information on belly dancing. Maybe I should have done my research beforehand, because apparently this style of dance evolved to help women give birth. So basically, I signed up for a Lamaze class. Other purported benefits include better posture, increased core strength and feeling “more feminine”. I need to work on at least two of those things.

At this point, the bomb went off. Apparently, the class puts on a performance and people are invited to watch. I considered melting into the floor at that point. But I stuck with it and started learning the choreography for our dance

Overall, the class was fairly easy – we learned some simple hip-shaking moves that seemed easy, but I still haven’t found a sense of rhythm or co-ordination, so it wasn’t really easy. I was a bit disappointed because I don’t think my heart rate increased at all. I wanted low impact, but maybe not that low impact. I’m hoping that the pace increases as we learn more and I’m interested to see what, if anything, I can take away from this class. Hopefully it’s more than just performance anxiety.  I did benefit greatly from the stretching we did at the end of the class – my hamstrings are still on strike and my knees were a little bit crunchy, today.

And the most important part is that I was not traumatized. I’ll be back. And I’m ready to try a new yoga class tomorrow at the Y, which will be a whole new adventure.


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