With Halloween over and Christmas less than six weeks away, it hit me…winter is coming FAST!
Many of the Vermonters I know are optimistically anticipating the coming winter activities – skiing, snowboarding, cross-country, snowshoeing; however, I am frantic! How am I going to find a replacement for my outdoor cardio walk/runs?! Skiis look like long sticks to me, and the last time I tried cross-country, well, let’s just say I didn’t make it across that much country.
I started researching online alternative means of exercise available in the greater Burlington area. I saw gym workouts, swimming, indoor rock climbing, and, wait a minute, belly dancing?
You know, I thought to myself, I had the opportunity to try belly dancing once upon a time in Atlanta at a Moroccan Restaurant, and enjoyed it (I think my date enjoyed it more ).
So, why not give belly dancing a try?
Two reasons not to do it came quickly to mind – my right hip and my left. I’m a mom sporting the hips God blessed me with in addition to blessing me with two babies, and they are not the hips from my twenties. I mean, what if everyone else there was an exotic goddess with a body to match?
I discussed the matter with my husband. Hmmm, I had to explain that no, this does not mean that we are going to buy a pole for the bedroom, and, yes, I could start as early as Saturday. And no, he didn’t need to run out and buy sheer, see-through material out of which to make a belly dancing costume. I could wear yoga pants and a t-shirt, thank you very much! Anyway, it was nice to see him so supportive.
Still, I wanted a backup plan. The best I could come up with was to glance at my iPhone and suddenly leave for a “family emergency” – shouting something like “the chicken kale soup is boiling over” or “there is a moose in our front yard”. My husband assured me these were good enough.
So off I went.
Walking into the South End Studio, I immediately felt at ease as- a lot of the other ladies were just like me – first timers. We were all different shapes and sizes, but there was no judgment, mocking, or condescension. Thankfully!
I chatted with the other women for a few moments, met the owner of the studio who was a wonderful, encouraging woman, and headed into the studio for my first belly dancing class. Some of the ladies had come prepared with a traditional coin belt wrapped around their waist for the full Middle Eastern effect. I do not have such a belt and that is probably for the best. I mean, what if my hips moved too much, coins came flying off, and hit somebody in the eye! It could be bad. Luckily, the coin belt is not a requirement, although I will say they make a really neat sound once the dancing starts.
To begin, we learned how to use our arms. Arms are very important in this dance as they can signal movement changes as well as heighten the fluidity of the dance movement. Then we added our hips, and started putting it altogether. Talk about casting spell-like powers over any man! Now I get the connection between genies and belly-dancing.
We eventually progressed into harder movements, yet I found I was able to keep up with the progressions because the instructor was very patient and broke down each movement, so it was easy to follow even if it was not easy to do. Most importantly, though, it was a ton of fun!
Wow! Good music, good fun. But, good exercise?
I had almost forgotten my original purpose for being here – did I find an indoor alternative to my outdoor cardio workouts for the winter? When I glanced at my MIO heart rate monitor, I discovered I had burned 336 calories, which is not bad at all. I could feel the other physical benefits as well, which FitDay.com lists here. Basically, belly dancing will help you not only firm your abs, but you will learn how to isolate your core and work some very tiny muscles that are often neglected during a regular workout.
So happy me, fitter me, and happy husband. I guess in summary, ladies, when you need a break from the cold, go find something fun and new to do, maybe move your hips and channel your inner exotic goddess, and have some fun!