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Posts Tagged ‘Shakira’

To get the full effect of this blog post, please hit play on this video and listen to the music as you read.  If you want to imagine I moved my hips as well as Shakira, I’m not going to stop you.  😉

Let me set the scene: This morning I woke up to grey clouds, cold weather, and the promise of rain in the forecast.  It was a welcome change from the extreme temps we had last week, which were well into the high 90s; unseasonably warm for this time of year.  Finally we were getting true fall, cozy weather.  I had on my sweats and slippers, was reading the paper and enjoying some coffee.  Lulu was on my lap and we were in a cuddly mood.  The last thing I wanted to do was leave home to go to the gym.

Yet that’s exactly what I did.  Why?  I’m so glad you asked!

I went to my first-ever belly dancing class!

With hips as prominent as mine, I always knew I would love belly dancing, but never really had enough courage to seek out a class.  Then I happened to be looking up some of the group exercise classes at 24 Hour Fitness and saw that they offered SharQui:  The BellyDance Workout, and I knew I had to give it a shot.  The description alone was enough to pique my interest:

SharQui™ is for the person who wants a new and exciting way to get fit. It is a total body workout that will get your heart pumping while you celebrate femininity and feed your soul. If you are an experienced dancer, you will be able to perfect your form, balance, gain strength, and dance better than ever.

I finally felt healthy enough to attend the class, and even though the rain was ugly, I didn’t want to let it stop me from going.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to wear, since the class was a “workout” and not just a belly dancing class, I figured I could wear my workout leggings and a tunic t-shirt.  This was a fine choice (as was the sweater duster I wore to cover my butt & thighs, because it was a cold rain and I needed the warmth), but I’ll get into wardrobe a bit later.

When I got the gym the class had barely started, and I knew I was going to love it because there were women of every shape and size and age group in the room.  The teacher, while extremely good at belly dancing, wasn’t stick thin – in fact, she had quite a tummy on her.  The music was awesome and I felt like I could just sway my hips to the beat and be fine.  Although of course I wanted to learn the actual moves and follow the teacher’s instructions.  I found that everything came pretty naturally to me, especially all of the hip movements.  Isolating my top half was a bit difficult, since I think the more natural tendency (at least for me) is to move my torso in line with my hips, but I think that’s where the discipline and the workout comes in.  (See Shakira’s moves in the video above, and I think you’ll understand what I mean.  Now I know how she got that amazing body!!).

As I looked around me, it seemed like everyone was having as much fun as I was.  I had a smile on my face the entire time because I KNEW I could do really well in this class.  Sure, I don’t have all the moves down like some of the girls did, but today was my first class; I’m confident that in time I’ll be just proficient in belly dancing as they are.

As I glanced around, I noticed that everyone was sweating as much as I was.  Belly dancing is much like yoga in that way.  You’re not necessarily out of breath, because the movements are somewhat slow most of the time, but because you are isolating your muscles and making precise, sharp movements, you can really feel it.  It’s been 6 1/2 hours since the class ended, and I’ve already been feeling some new muscles this afternoon. Although belly dancing wasn’t in my LoseIt database, I used “low impact aerobic dancing,” and it said that in the hour-long class, I’d burned 554 calories!

The other thing I observed was that lots of the students were wearing hip scarves.  Very pretty, brilliantly-colored pieces of fabric with tons of little silver or gold charms all over them.  They made a great cha-ching noise as the girls swung their hips and shimmied around the exercise studio.  The teacher was selling them for $10 each, but I knew that the ones she had for sale wouldn’t fit around my hips, so I came home and looked online and wasn’t disappointed.  (Seriously, is there anything you can’t find online?!)  ShimmySista has a great variety of dancing accoutrement for plus sized divas.  I ordered the one pictured above in purple (because they didn’t have red).  I can’t wait to get it, because once I do I’ll feel like I’m a “serious” belly dancing student.

Speaking of wardrobe, belly dancing is done without shoes on, or with dance shoes on.  The instructor was very clear to say that certain moves wouldn’t be as easy if we kept our athletic shoes on.  Plus, it just looks clunkier.  So I left my socks on (because I don’t like going barefoot, especially on the dance floor of the gym, yuck!) and it worked perfectly.  I think I’m going to wear my wide-legged yoga pants from now on, because I’ll feel more confident in the way my butt and thighs look, and the more confident you are with belly dancing, the better it looks.  Plus, I was a bit warm in the close-fitting workout pants I had on.  Just like with yoga, breath-ability is important in belly dancing.

The SharQui workout class was one of the first that I’ve taken in so long that I was good at from the get-go.  Usually I have a huge learning curve or have to modify the moves because of my weight, but not this time.  I could do everything that anyone else could do, and maybe even a bit better in some cases.  I seriously can’t wait to take my sister and one of my best friends, because I know they’ll love it, too.

If you can find a SharQui (or any other belly dancing class) in your area, I highly recommend it!

The teacher mentioned that although we think of belly dancing as originating in the Middle East, it also comes from Greece, Spain, and Italy, as well.  I knew there had to be a reason I was so good at it – it’s part of my Italian roots!! 

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