Kate Swanson is an Australian writer and dancer with nearly 40 years' experience in ballet, jazz, flamenco, ballroom, Latin and bellydance.
Belly Dancing to Exercise Abs
It's often assumed that belly dancing is a great abs workout because of that word "belly". In fact, whether a belly dance class works your abs will depend a lot on whether you can find the right belly dance teacher.
For instance, if she's properly trained in modern Egyptian (Oriental) or Tribal, she will teach you to use your obliques, abs and core muscles to move your hips - and a basic class will really work your mid-section. However, many older-style instructors teach using the legs to move the hips, so your abs will barely get a workout!
So, having the right teacher can make a huge difference to your results - though even with good instruction, it takes a lot of practice to be able to work your abs like belly dancer Helena Vlahos in this clip!
However you'll notice that even with all that skill, Helen doesn't have a six-pack. Personally I find the smooth contour of a belly dancer's stomach much more attractive and feminine than a rigid washboard - and if you do to, there are belly dancing abs DVD's which teach specific belly exercises so you can work on them in your own time.
Belly Dance to Exercise Glutes
This is another misconception. Ordinary beginner belly dance classes will not give you a firm, lifted butt. Some belly dancers use their glutes in shimmies, but many don't. You can see the difference in their dancing - if they use their glutes, the movement is generally sharper and tighter.
Belly Dance for Weight Loss
If you're not very fit, an ordinary belly dance class is enough of a fat burning workout. But increasingly, you'll find classes and DVD's offering belly dance workouts which are as aerobic and challenging as a gym class.
Many people assume that because belly dancing is so gentle on the body, these cardio belly dance workouts are very safe. Not so! When you do belly dance hip movements at speed, it's hard to maintain good technique. Most beginners will begin sticking their butt out, or twisting at the knee. That can be very damaging for your back and your knees.
So before you start doing these fast belly dance exercises, you must be sure you have your form right - i.e., please ensure you understand exactly what the movements are and that you're able to copy them exactly.
© 2009 Kate Swanson
Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on November 03, 2013:
Very interesting and well designed article. Thanks for all the useful information here.
Susan from India on April 15, 2013:
Great hub on belly dancing and fitness. Interesting hub. Thanks for sharing.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on November 21, 2010:
Naughty, naughty! These days most belly dancers try to distance themselves from making belly dance too sexy. Professional dancers definitely do not engage in that kind of behavior - but I must say, I'm sure I'm not the only bellydancer who finds her skills very useful in entertaining her man...
health store on November 11, 2010:
belly dancing is a great way to get fit it has done wonders for my wife and great for foreplay too ^_^
Kyra on July 27, 2010:
Is this difficult to learn? It looks very interesting. Thanks for the information.
Workouts For Abs on May 31, 2010:
Nice video, I liked it too! Belly dancing is gaining ground in my neck of the woods!
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on April 01, 2010:
Sorry you got put off last time, Faybe - it's never too late to start!
Faye Constantino from Florida on April 01, 2010:
I am enjoying your new hub about belly dancing. It brought me here of course, and I will probably end up going through all of them. I had a friend over 20 years ago try to teach me but I gave up (she was too fast). Now that I see the benefits as well as the fun, I might try again.
Marlene F. from Richmond, Virginia on May 05, 2009:
Wow...It looks like fun! Loved the video.
Om Prakash Singh from India, Calcutta on March 06, 2009:
Well Thanks for the reply I will surely go through that hub you have mentioned.
Kate Swanson (author) from Sydney on February 28, 2009:
Packerpack, one of the great things about belly dancing is that you don't need to have a perfect figure. Belly dancing classes generally are very supportive and non-judgmental, unlike other dance classes which can be quite competitive.
Belly dancing is also one of the easiest dance styles to learn because it doesn't require a lot of flexibility or strength and works with the natural movements of the body. It does take a little while to get the knack, of course! As for the moving hips thing, this Hub will help:
Om Prakash Singh from India, Calcutta on February 28, 2009:
Belly dance, just like the one Shakira did in "Hips don't lie". Ya it surely is very sexy but at the sametime I guess it will be very difficult. You really need to have some slim body to do that? How is it that they move their hips while the rest of the body keeps still. Great
deccasandy from Belmont on February 12, 2009:
Belly dance is indeed very helpful Specially in keeping you fit and giving you a flat tummy.