Exercise Experiment #1: Belly Dancing

All right, I’ve just returned from my first ever belly dancing class. Yippee!

I’m trying to figure out what sort of format I want to use for writing up my exercise experiments. Let’s start with a simple 1-5 rating system.

Fun quotient: 3.5. Probably would have been 4.5, but the class was packed. I really liked it, but I wish I’d had more space and a better view of the mirror. If I keep this up, I might try the Friday night class, which should be a lot emptier.

Sweat quotient: 2. I walked in with my hair blown straight and walked out with it wavy. Had to wipe my brow a few times. Which, honestly, was more than I expected — but nothing compared to, say, doing 12 sun salutations in a row. And the instructor said she thought the heat was actually cranked up about halfway through the class, so it wasn’t necessarily just the workout.

Fat Friendliness: 4. There were all sorts of body types, and I’d say I was just slightly above the middle of the range. Very few of the basic movements we did today would be hindered by fat, though I occasionally had to take a slightly wider stance than the instructor to keep my balance, and I suspect there will be arm movements down the road with which the Rack of Doom will interfere.

Exhaustion quotient: 1. About the same as a good walk; I felt like I was doing something, for sure, but I didn’t get tired, and it wasn’t hard at all, cardio-wise.

Post-class invigoration quotient: 2. I got a small burst of energy, but it definitely wasn’t the near-euphoria I get from my yoga practice.

Humiliation quotient: 3. It definitely, definitely helps to have a good amount of body awareness or be especially coordinated, if not both. I’ve got the body awareness from yoga, which helps immeasurably with isolating and moving very specific muscle groups while keeping the rest of your body still. I am not, however, coordinated — in fact, I have a non-verbal LD that makes me pretty spatially challenged. So I did great when we were just practicing tilting our pelvises up and down or moving our ribcages side to side, but I was a total disaster when we started putting steps and movements together in, you know, a dance. That will take a lot more practice for me. The good news is, I’m old enough now to know it will eventually come with practice, even if it takes me longer than anyone else in the class — and I’m old enough not to really give a rat’s ass if it does. But my biggest challenge will be getting frustrated and wanting to give up before it comes — and if I’d started this before I started yoga, when I still had no concept of how to make my pelvis move separately from my ribcage, or how to use my knees to move my hips, the frustration would have been severe. I probably would have given up after one try. (Keep in mind, however, that I am the type of person who is absurdly hard on myself and will totally stand there in my FIRST CLASS EVER beating myself up because I’m not as good as the instructor who’s been at it for years. If you’re somewhat more sane than that, you might be able to cope with the frustration better.)

Pain quotient: 0.5. My feet got a bit crampy, but I think I have mild plantar fasciitis or something like it, so all things considered, it wasn’t bad. Other people complained of lower back pain, but I didn’t have any — and usually, if there’s lower back pain to be had, I will have it.

Other thoughts: I found myself really struggling with my ADD. I could get a lot of stuff (more or less) on the first or second try, but then, as we did it over and over, I’d lose my concentration, start to mess up, and then be too flustered to get back in the groove. I’m going to have to really work at staying present.

Related to that, I found it was really easy to forget to breathe. I’m so used to yoga, where the instructor is calling “Inhale… exhale…” all the time. I did my best to connect breath to movement on my own, but because the speed of the movements you’re doing changes all the time, it was hard. When we were practicing something slowly, just to get used to the movements, it was pretty easy to go “movement 1/inhale; movement 2/exhale.” But then, just as I was getting in the zone, the instructor would go, “Faster!” Goddammit. So I need to figure out how to breathe at a consistent rate while moving at different rates, for the sake of both my lungs and my awareness.

Oh, and finally — because this is always my first question about any new exercise program — the website suggests wearing something tight on top (“like a leotard or halter top”) and something “feminine and flowy” on the bottom, like a long skirt. Plus a hip scarf. I do not own any long skirts, leotards, halter tops, or hip scarves, so I improvised with bootcut yoga pants, a tight tank top, and an old Land’s End pareo. As it turned out, almost everyone was dressed pretty much like me — many of the students had their own belly dance-specific hip scarves, but otherwise, it was yoga pants/leggings and t-shirts all around.

So. Overall, it was really fun, and I definitely intend to go back. Breaking everything down to the basics does make it feel more like an exercise class than a dance class, per se, and I actually like that about it — quite frankly, I don’t see myself ever performing as a belly dancer. Not ’cause I don’t think I’ll get it eventually, or ’cause I don’t think it looks awesome, but because the idea just doesn’t really appeal to me and never has; I don’t dig the idea of waggling my hips at strangers all that much, and lord knows I will never, ever find a sequined bra top that fits me. I decided to try it because so many people had told me how fun it is — and they were right — but if I were going to take a dance class with an eye to performing, there are like a half dozen other styles I’d prefer. (You may or may not be hearing about some of those in the future.)

ETA Next-day pain quotient: 1. If I try to do the same moves we were practicing yesterday, my hips hurt and my arms get tired quickly. But I don’t feel sore functioning normally.

48 thoughts on “Exercise Experiment #1: Belly Dancing

  1. I’m sure you could find a sequined bra top if you change your mind. I was at a Greek restaurant a week ago, and the dancer was roughly your proportions. “Waggling hips at strangers” seems to be non-negotiable, though.

  2. “Waggling hips at strangers” seems to be non-negotiable, though.

    Indeed. And let me very clear that I am NOT knocking hip-waggling in general. My problem is, it brings out my inner prude and would make me way too self-conscious if I were actually doing it for an audience.

  3. I am the type of person who is absurdly hard on myself and will totally stand there in my FIRST CLASS EVER beating myself up because I’m not as good as the instructor who’s been at it for years.

    Oh yes, this is everything in my life that I am not instantly a genius at…which is most things. I am not saner than that, but goodness knows I’m trying.

    Good luck with all of this. We should all try new things.

  4. Those sequined bra tops aren’t too hard to make either. :) Though I had to fudge a little on the size. Can’t find those formed t-shirt bras in my size but I was able to find something close to it that I felt comfortable in.

    When I first started out, I mostly wore a choli for dancing. But when I joined a larger troupe, I needed to get the bra tops for performances.

    I’ve got some pics here., if anyone wants to take a look.

    I made the grey costume. And the bra for the black and green costume.

    When I got into performing, it never entered my mind that I’d be “waggling hips at strangers”. I just wanted to show off my skills and have fun with friends. :)

  5. Wow, what a cool write-up! And I take it by the “#1″ designation, that this is just the first of more to come? I’m looking forward to more of these — what a great idea! Thanks!

  6. I’m a fairly busty girl, and I was even bustier when I was taking belly dance classes. My chest never got in the way of my arms. And the extra boobage really helped make chest lifts and drops more dramatic.

    I did have to be careful with shoulder shimmies because the slightest bit of washing machine motion got momentum involved in ways that were quite painful. The trick to a pain-free shoulder shimmy is to move the shoulder blades up and down, not side to side.

    I always wanted a coin bra, but could never rationalize the expense of building one for myself out of a bra that fit and supported me well. So I usually wore a self-supporting choli when I wasn’t dancing in more conservative outfits. I never performed as part of a troupe, but I have danced with others, all of us doing improv, around campfires to live drummers.

  7. The boobs will definitely NOT get in the way. We worked on bust shimmies tonight and I wished mine were bigger.

    I’m the same way with following spatial movements — I get turned around when trying to watch the instructor and figure out what she’s doing in what direction. Like, I can tell she’s doing a figure eight but not which side it should start on or whether it’s going forward or backward, because I’m trying to translate what I’m seeing from behind or in a mirror into what I should be doing. But I’m great with choreography, which is actually why I’m taking a performance class, more than because I want to perform. Even if I can’t do them all perfectly, I can remember a set of steps like nobody’s business.

    The people who complained of lower back pain are doing it wrong, and I hope they complained near the teacher so she can correct them.

  8. Makes me think of my friend who has a chainmail bra for SF conventions, on her small chest, it’s adorable. I thought about how heavy one would be for my then H cups… I wouldn’t need a rack of doom to send me reeling forward! :P She does belly dance as well, and the jingly coin bra cracks me up every time.

  9. Belly-dancing has got to be the most fat-friendly exercise ever – at least when I took it in college, where the instructor (who learned in Egypt) lamented loud and often that none of us (including herself) were truly thick enough to do justice to the movements. (Thick was her word… I like it, it presumes some quality of shape that isn’t just hourglass.)

    As far as use outside of the studio… it makes a good story to tell, but more importantly for me, it gave me confidence and ways to move in dance clubs.

  10. I have to agree with Kate about the boobs. I am an avid bellydancer (though not as much as I used to be due to time constraints). I have a large, large chest and did find some of the arms in front positions to be hindered by my boobs. Not to worry – it’s all about improvisation! And fuck the bra tops if you’re not into it. I always went in a form fitting tshirt and a skirt, often with a hip scarf. Definitely look into tribal style bellydance (like Fat Chance out of San Fran)… it is far more adaptable than ‘traditional’ styles. I was lucky because I had a teacher who was very into tribal. She (and her mom who danced with us) was very intimidating to this fat girl at first. They both are like willow trees combined with Barbie dolls, but all I ever heard was praise and was even asked to join their performing troupe – all 250# of me. If videos are your thing, there are plenty of good choices out there, especially after you master the basics in class. Have fun – and I bet you will notice the effort your body is putting into it. I definitely got stronger and probably more defined under all my layers. :-)

  11. I’m going to my 1st bellydancing class on Sat. I’ve learned a little from videos, and am fairly coordinated. I’m hoping that I get a fat friendly instructor, and classmates.

  12. The people who complained of lower back pain are doing it wrong, and I hope they complained near the teacher so she can correct them.

    To be fair, they only complained after the teacher said, “Is anybody experiencing lower back pain?” — and she went on to explain that was because they were doing it wrong, i.e., using the wrong muscles — which is apparently common with whatever we were doing at the time. So, once again, that’s where the yoga experience came in handy for me.

    Medea, holy hotness! And holy seamstress skills! Awesome.

    Ursula, thanks, and yes, there will be more. I have a vague goal in my head of spending the next month or so going to every friggin’ class that looks interesting to me, just to see what they’re like. And, of course, writing about it. I’m planning to hit a water aerobics class tomorrow, then I’ve got lap swimming on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I’m going out of town on Wed., so that’ll throw off my momentum, but it’s entirely possible I’ll need to rest then anyway.

  13. To be fair, they only complained after the teacher said, “Is anybody experiencing lower back pain?”

    Okay, good! I didn’t mean to sound like I was snitting at them for complaining — I just wanted to make sure they weren’t just mentioning it in the ladies’ room or something, because you can hurt yourself if you don’t fix your alignment.

  14. (Keep in mind, however, that I am the type of person who is absurdly hard on myself and will totally stand there in my FIRST CLASS EVER beating myself up because I’m not as good as the instructor who’s been at it for years. If you’re somewhat more sane than that, you might be able to cope with the frustration better.)

    So glad to realize I am not the only one like this. My level of personal perfectionism is set so high, I am still learning to deal with the fact I am a mere human and the best I can do, is just that, the very best I can do. Not saying I don’t push myself to do my best, but when you set the bar so high not even the mighty denizens of Olympus could accomplish it, you might have a problem.

    It took me realizing one day I was afraid to try new things for fear of failing on such a grand scale. The frustration would then morph into this idea that anything I did try, I would fail. Which would just become humourous fodder for all those watching and waiting to make fun of the Fattie for even thinking she might be able to do whatever activity I had just talked myself out of doing.
    Did that even make sense?

    I just know so much of what I kept myself from was from the fear of being ridiculed and laughed at. But now I want to do yoga, and swim and all the other things I know I can do, in spite of being fat.

    No really does any of this comment truly make sense to anyone else but me?

  15. You may discover that there are (oh so) many traditions a lot older than the bra top and wiggling your hips at strangers style.

    I not very discerning. I love them all.

    (Including the bra top and wiggling hips at strangers style)

  16. i have done egyptian, lebanese, turkish, saiidi, and a bit of romany… and i’ve never had an issue w/the boobage. i was a 34g when i was dancing a lot… i think you could be safe! and i’d totally recommend trying a class where there are fewer ppl. you will see better *and* get a lot more personal attention from the teacher. she sounds like she is pretty darn good if she’s asking for feedback on body mechanics. if you want a hip scarf &/or can fit a 34g bra, lemme know. i’m moving in a month and i don’t want to move all my old costumes. i’m keeping a few jic… but a lot of them need to go! (warning: some costumes are… um… well loved… heh)

  17. My boobs don’t get in my way during belly-dance practice but you REALLY need a supportive bra. When you start doing fast chest rises and drops, you really feel your boobs bouncing. There are some downward shimmies that make your boobs vibrate, too, and I had to actually hold mine down one class when I was wearing the wrong kind of bra.

    As for leggings vs skirts, when you’re new to belly-dance a lot of seasoned dancers recommend wearing trousers/leggings so you can watch your form. Common mistakes are people bending their legs in weird positions that put strain on the knees, or ‘cheating’ and straightening their legs when they should be in a bend/squat.

    I’m still a newbie so I wear yoga pants for about 80% of my classes and a dance skirt when I feel like I need a boost, or when I know we’re going to be doing more upper-body work.

    Wearing a skirt is great because it puts you in a more ‘dancy’ mood. Plus, when you finally start to move in a way that is contained behind the fall of the skirt, so it looks almost like you’re just gliding along, it is such a rush! I was so proud the first time I started to see that. :)

    I wear a hip-belt (my ‘jingly-jangly’ as I call it) every lesson because it helps give a feeling of weight to my lower body, which is crucial for a lot of the lower body movements.

    Belly-dance is definitely not a cardio workout but, boy, do I hurt some days! When we isolate muscles and work them for the entire hour, I am sore for the next few days. Last night we did all hips circles with low bends so my butt and thigh muscles are sore this morning, and I was definitely sweaty and breathing a little heavy during class.

    I really appreciate doing yoga *and* belly-dance because I can feel in my body how they compliment each other. My stance in belly-dance is so much stronger since I increased my yoga practice, and the isolation of various muscle groups that I learn in belly-dance makes my yoga experience so much more in depth and thoughtful; I can actually *feel* what muscles are tight and which need to loosen to a greater extent than I ever did before.

  18. Kate, does your LD have a name? And is it commonly associated with ADD?

    I have ADD (diagnosed, but not really explored or treated) and I’m pretty sure I have some sort of movement-related LD. There is simply no way I can isolate any part of my body, and my coordination is utterly terrible. I will not exercise in public, or take any kind of class, because it is always utterly humiliating, and I have piled all sorts of shame on top of my physical limitations.

  19. Medea that is an awesome set of costumes!

    I too have to add that while it certainly can get expensive to buy all those sequined tops if you do get to performances it is just as easy to make them. I happen to be handy at sewing so that helps me a lot but one other girl in my group used snap buttons and created a whole set of awesome tops that have flowy little “tummy veils” I call them that snap into a bra! Otherwise for practice purposes I’ve never had a problem with just stretchy pants and a good top – you have to be able to see your body moving :D

    Gemma your notes on how yoga compliments belly really makes me want to look into taking classes again! :D

  20. Kate, does your LD have a name? And is it commonly associated with ADD?

    As far as I know, it’s just generic “non-verbal learning disability.” However, when I look that up online, it describes a disorder that seems to overlap a lot with Asperger’s and has lots of symptoms I don’t recognize in myself — so I’m not sure if A) I’m just high-functioning, B) the shrink who diagnosed me meant something else, or C) the definition has changed in the last ten years, as more research has been done.

    In this article, the part that applies to me is:

    Verbal IQ scores, for example, are well within normal limits, whereas nonverbal IQ lags behind. These children have difficulty with nonverbal problem solving, visual-spatial-organizational skills, tactile perception, and complex psychomotor behavior but, on the surface at least, they appear to have good language skills.

    I was diagnosed on the basis of my performance I.Q. (the blocks and puzzles and stuff) being a full 40 points lower than my verbal I.Q. Add that to a history of clumsiness and disorganization, and you’ve got a diagnosis. (The disorganization also goes along with ADD of course, but it might just be that I’ve got twice the problems in that area! Whee!) But I’ve never had problems with reading faces or handling social situations, and I’m pretty sure my verbal skills are more than just superficial.

    I don’t know if NLD is specifically recognized as going along with ADD, but certainly lots of LDs are commonly comorbid with ADD. So it might be worth checking out.

  21. Dr. Confused-

    Me, too! From what I understand, the two are separate things, but are commonly found in the same people, especially women, since the movement and attention centers of the brain are somehow related. There’s something about how women tend to have a different kind of ADD from men that makes it more likely to be accompanied by a movement and/or balance problem, too. The actual mechanics of it are kind of over my head, but it’s interesting.

  22. Oh, and Dr. Confused, if you can afford it, private lessons in something that builds body awareness — yoga, Pilates, belly dance, whatever — could really help. Private yoga lessons made both my practice and my body awareness take off, because we could spend a long time on the things that really didn’t come naturally to me. Which is why I CAN isolate specific muscle groups now — it took me months of regular practice to learn how to do that. And in many cases, it took the teacher like a dozen tries at describing what she wanted me to do.

    Take, for instance, where your head’s supposed to be in Mountain Pose. My teacher’s default was to say, “Pull your chin back.” I would always try to do that and end up pulling my chin down. So she’d then tell me to try to keep the top of my head parallel to the ceiling, while pulling my chin back, and no matter how many times I tried, I could. not. get it.

    One day, I go and take a group class with another teacher for kicks. And that teacher says, “Imagine there’s a string attached to the back of your neck, pulling it back and up.” BAM! I got my head into the right position and now, I can’t do it wrong if I try. (I know because I just tried.) That happened to me with SO many poses I had problems with. The teacher would be going (while I was lying on my stomach), “Lift your chest… no, not like that… no, like this… no…” And then she’d say, “Pull up from your shoulder blades,” and I’d immediately get it. Pulling up from the shoulder blades is, of course, lifting the chest, but I would hear the latter and lift my head, chest, and abs all together. Once she told me to focus on the shoulder blades, I understood what I was supposed to be isolating.

    Eventually, she figured out that if I wasn’t getting something, she needed to find a different way to describe it to me, and we had some hilarious moments where she’d sit there doing a pose over and over, trying to think of new descriptions of what, exactly she was doing, until she found one that made sense to me. Teachers can’t do that in a group class, obviously; they usually have their one way of describing how to get into a specific pose, and if you’re not getting it, they’ll just keep saying the same thing, ’cause it makes sense to them. But for me — as a highly verbal person with spatial issues and little body awareness when I started — I really needed particular words to get me into the right positions. And many times, we could only find the magic words through a lot of trial and error.

    So I can’t recommend private lessons enough to anyone who’s nervous about keeping up with a class. As long as you get a compassionate teacher who’s willing to meet you where you are — and I think most do fit that description — you can learn what you need to learn instead of just learning what seems to help the largest number of people.

  23. This is a great report! Thanks Kate!

    I’d also like to hear about “next day” pains and aches…that’s usually when this kind of stuff hits me, so I’m curious about what to expect….

  24. I’d also like to hear about “next day” pains and aches…that’s usually when this kind of stuff hits me, so I’m curious about what to expect….

    I was just thinking I should update this post today, and make a habit of updating all Exercise Experiment posts the day after.

    Today, I would upgrade the pain from .5 to 1. It’s nothing when I’m just moving/sitting around normally, but I tried to go over a few of the things I learned in front of the mirror this morning, and hoo boy, my hips hurt when I moved them like that. Ditto my arms — no muscle pain or fatigue in the course of normal functioning, but if I hold my arms up in the air, I can totally feel that I spent a lot of time holding them up in the air yesterday.

    I’m glad today’s exercise experiment will be water aerobics, because I think that’ll be a perfect way to use the sore muscles and joints without straining them any further. I don’t think I could handle another belly dance class today, and if I were thinking of, say, a Pilates class? I would be torn between telling the instructor my hips are sore and just not going at all.

  25. Yeah, I’m extremely spatially challenged too, and I was really worried about not being able to get belly dance at all, and that everyone else would be getting it and it would be really frustrating and embarassing. But I wasn’t the only one who had trouble, and I had such a good instructor. She would teach us a move, and then walk around to see how everyone was doing, and keep working with the people who didn’t get it until they got it, while the rest of the class just practiced. If there are any Calgary Shapelings interested in Belly Dance, I highly recommend Ariellah.

  26. You know, I was never allowed to see my IQ results, but at some point when I was a teenager my mom was like “oh, you know your performance score was way lower than your verbal score, that’s supposed to indicate ADD.” And I was like, um? Should we maybe talk about this, in light of my grades?

    No dice, though. I did have a dream last night that someone made me take five Adderall before they would talk to me.

    We did snake arms for most of the first hour last night, so I’m definitely hurting. But yeah, not hurting like if I’d done a lot of weight lifting, just a little stiffness. I expect to feel worse tomorrow, after hooping… maybe it wasn’t wise of me to put those classes back to back.

  27. Hey Kate — I know I prattled on about it on the other exercise post, but if you can swing it, and maybe you’re already planning on it, it’d be great to get yourself some massages while you are trying out all of these new things. I’m always telling myself it’s too much extra money and time, but then I go, and it realize it’s so therapeutic and really (in a perfect world – ha!) should be part of my regular “routine”.

  28. Lilith Sativa – yes, your comment makes perfect sense. I’ve always been an extreme perfectionist, and that led me to not want to try anything, because if I couldn’t be perfect right from the start, why bother? As a kid my parents enrolled me in all kinds of activities – soccer, tap and jazz dance lessons, gymnastics, softball, piano lessons – and I was always mortified of doing anything wrong lest people laughed at the fattie (mind you, looking back I was only mildly chubby then, but in my mind I was a fat fat fattie). I would just not try, rather than being embarrassed, because obviously – especially for those piano lessons (wtf?!?) – I couldn’t ever do it good enough because I was fat, and everyone would laugh.

    Oh my gosh, doesn’t this sound so crazy out loud? Well, in pixels, but you know what I mean ;) Thankfully I got over this in my mid-20s and will now go dancing, play a pick-up game of soccer, or whatever else. But I still find myself avoiding any kind of competitive activity, especially competitive team sports, because I compare myself to others who’ve been playing longer than I, so are invariably better. Enough of that!!!

  29. Oh my gosh, doesn’t this sound so crazy out loud?

    Shit, I wish it sounded crazy.

    Well okay, it sounds crazy, but it sounds awfully familiar. You and I and shinobi and Kate and Lilith Sativa are all crazy. We need to get together a Paralyzed Perfectionists Anonymous group.

  30. Hi – I’m interested in where you took the class. I take a class in Chicago at a yoga studio but it focuses mostly on learning a choreographed dance and I’d like to get a better grasp of the basics and a breakdown of the moves.
    Thanks!

  31. Hey Kate — I know I prattled on about it on the other exercise post, but if you can swing it, and maybe you’re already planning on it, it’d be great to get yourself some massages while you are trying out all of these new things.

    Suzanne, you’d better believe I will. I finally found what I think will be the gym of my dreams, in terms of the classes they offer (I’ll be going there for the first time today), and they also offer massage, reflexology, acupuncture and stuff. They’ve got a buy 5, get one free deal with massage and reflexology, which actually makes each one pretty reasonable. So I guess I have to get at least 5. :)

    Oh, and Fillyjonk, the only reason I know my IQ score is because that particular test was done when I was 23. I started seeing a psychologist who liked to start every new client off with a battery of personality tests. From those, she gleaned that my intelligence and creativity were a hell of a lot higher than my confidence in my own abilities, which made her suspect ADD. So that led to another battery of tests, including IQ.

  32. I’m so glad you got to a class–I’m going to my first in a MONTH tonight and I fear for my hips indeed…but in a good way.

    I’m quite interested to hear about your spatial LD and its connections with your body awareness. I’ll also be interested in hearing if drilling gets any easier/less distracting for you. I find that the only way to really perfect a move is to do it four thousand times (per night, preferably). I usually get into the zone and find that certain parts of my brain switch off and others switch on, really getting that muscle memory thing. That said, I’ve been dancing since 1999 and STILL. CANNOT. DO. GODDAMN. SNAKE ARMS. (Tribal snake arms, FJ: really wide shoulders and very lateral movement, if that makes sense, with more of a shoulder roll back down the ribcage instead of a shoulder lift. Basically impossible).

    And I always practice in bootcut yoga pants and a tight tank top, too–I usually like at least a scarf on my hips for extra weight and motion (extra good for snappy hip drops!).

  33. I’ve been bellydancing on and off for about ten years now. If you’re in a beginner class, it will be awhile before it gets really really physically challenging. The yoga training will stand you in good stead – the trick to bellydancing is to find the right way to breathe while doing the movements.

    Keep in mind also that it can take up for a year for your body to “remember” the movements; that repetition and mastery can take some time, but once you get there, you’ll find the class a more relaxing experience – and I can assure you, the other women in the class feel just as awkward as you do!

    Keep it up – bellydancing is an awesome workout and art form!

  34. We need to get together a Paralyzed Perfectionists Anonymous group.

    Hi My name is Lilith and I am a paralyzed perfectionist. !!!

    Oh I am sitting here crying because I had never admitted to anyone that I ever felt that way. Typing that earlier was as good as sending in a postcard to Post Secret.

    To find that I am not the only one who does this, makes me feel less crazy. Even if it is a sign that I am crazy.

    As soon as I have the extra money ( which should be next month) I am getting the swimsuit and going swimming and maybe trying the Yoga as well.

  35. Medea, those are BEAUTIFUL!!!! That’s almost enough to make me want to try it out.

    And yes to everyone – why on earth would you go do exercise in front of people if you can’t do it just right? :) I’m the same way. Ye gods, could you see us all in a beginner’s class together? It would be a hurricane of neuroses.

  36. I love belly dancing! It was a huge revelation to me when I first started- “Oh, you mean it’s ok to be fat? I look BETTER doing these moves when I’ve got some fat? I can show my belly and be sexy and still be fat?” *Mindblow*

    And it’s low-impact, too. That’s not to say you won’t get a good workout, but you’re doing fluid movements that don’t put a lot of stress on your joints.

    Oh, and in my classes we always wear tight tops and yoga pants, because it’s easier for the instructor to see what we’re doing right and wrong if she can actually see our forms.

  37. *beam* I’m glad people enjoyed the costumes. Man, now I want to get back into dancing just so I can wear them again. :)

    I have a touch of the perfectionist as well. Mostly just being freakishly afraid of doing something”wrong” (partially because some things really are easy for me to get so when I run into something I can’t get immediately I feel extra bad). When I first started dancing, my friends and I got together and did private classes as a group so that helped ease me into taking normal classes with more experienced dancers.

    And that’s how public performing started. We were having so much fun in our private classes we decided to choreograph something and perform it which eased us into performing with our teachers troupe when she formed it.

  38. I lost my hair during chemo during breast cancer treatment. Another girl on the cancermatch.com website suggested that I take belly dance lessons…to restore my self esteam. Well, she was right. I danced and while other girls in the class had flowing hair and limitless energy, I isolated my hips and belly and shoulders and felt great after…well, I felt exhausted, but, I felt like a woman again….I that’s what counted for me.

  39. Kate, you should totally try trance dance during your exercise guinea piggery. What it is is a nonjudgmental, usually d/d free, house music/club like/spiritualesque atmosphere, and everyone just dances like a fool. I was doing it Sunday night and I’m now totally sore and body-conscious, and the atmosphere is so nonjudgmental and awesome, I can’t say enough about it. In Chicago, places that happens are at 8:18 / Circus of the Spirit, TranceZenDance, and Sweat Your Prayers (google it up.) Maybe I’ll see you there!

  40. if you find somewhere to do American Tribal Style (ATS), rather than cabaret style, there are far fewer sequins, and no expectation of waggling hips at strangers as the emphasis is on female strength rather than sexie sexie.

  41. We need to get together a Paralyzed Perfectionists Anonymous group.

    Can I just say that I’m often crippled with anxiety about posting here because everyone else has such awesome insightful things to say that whatever I write will be wrong or misinterpreted or whatever and I’ll go shut up now in the lurking corner.

    Bellydancing sounds awesome, though. Now I want to find a place in Jersey that teaches it.

  42. OMG Kate! I’m currently working out schedule kinks in order to re-sign up for Tribal Bellydance! Glad to hear this may be of benefit to you….and please don’t feel too bad about being a perfectionist….I bumped up against that and the whole body image thing when I started a few years back….

    I agree with Elusis, there is less emphasis at “waggling” at strangers with Tribal…and it also emphasizes the beauty of each individual member (and, that’s ALWAYS a plus)!

    And, mizerychik….there’s an annual event in NJ (I can’t remember exactly what the name of it is…go figure) that you’d prolly love AND there’s an event at World Cafe Live in Philly this weekend featuring a group called Animus (drumming and bellydancers) you might want to check out!

  43. I just tried out the Megan Garcia workout video and loved it. It’s totally doable for a novice, and feels great.

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