Bellydancing For Fitness

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

November 13, 2006

If you're worried about putting on the holiday pounds and sick of going to the gym, Good Morning Charlottesville has a week long series of alternative exercises. This one focuses on an ancient dance that some describe as seductive.

It's a low impact workout that's designed to work the arms to the legs, but the focus in the midsection, which is probably why it's called bellydancing.

"I will definitely say I feel sexy, which is something that most men think bellydancers are. But it's not just about being sexy, but feeling confident, finding your own energy to do things," said "Zakiyaa."

Zakiyaa has been belly dancing for three years and says she loved it from the start.

"I like it because it's so natural for the body. No matter what shape your body has, it feels so natural," said Zakiyaa.

Bellydancing was made popular in the Middle East. It originated as a way for women to exercise, particularly strengthen their core muscles before child birth.

"Having been developed to strengthen and tone the muscles that women particularly need assistance with, it's particularly effective in getting women's bodies in their optimal physical condition," said bellydance instructor "Shakti."

That's everything from the thighs and butt to underneath the arm and of course the stomach. Shakti herself has had three children.

"It's about equivalent to a low-impact aerobics class, but you don't feel it. It always sneaks up on my students at the end of class and they are like: 'Wow, that was a lot'" said Shakti.

This low impact workout may have even more health benefits than strengthening.

"I'm diabetic and that helps me because it's not like an aerobic class. You don't need so much oxygen to keep the energy going," said Zakiyaa.

"A lot of the moves are reported to have hormonally regulatory effects like shoulder isolations stimulate the thyroid and belly isolations stimulation the gastrointestinal track," said Shakti.

But it's not just physical, there are spiritual elements too.

"In general the theory is that if you get the body flowing freely without blocks and correctly, health will follow because the body is a self-stabilizing system and it will heal itself," Shakti said.

While it works on strengthening, it's still a low impact workout that puts very little stress on the joints, which is ideal for all ages. It's especially helpful to prepare or recover from child birth.

To inquire about classes you can contact Shakti at: 434-220-1888 or

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