Am I Too Fat? Belly Dancing for Plus Size Women
Thin people often misunderstand the challenges of plus size exercise. It's not the fitness or the stamina that's the biggest problem - overweight people can be fit, too. It's the fact that when you're carrying extra weight, it tends to get in the way. It's hard to sit on the floor and reach forward over your leg, if your belly gets in the way. And let's not even think about "finding your sitting bones"...
But there's one even bigger obstacle...
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You finally pluck up courage to go to a dance lesson or gym class. You get dressed in a t-shirt and track pants - black of course - in the (forlorn) hope it'll make you look slimmer.
You arrive at class and find yourself in a pack of size 6 sylphs, all dressed in skintight little leggings and body-hugging singlet tops, with nary a bingo wing or back roll in sight. They then bounce through the aerobics, or turn themselves into pretzels, without breaking a sweat - while you flounder damply at the back. Worse, they start bitching to each other about the size of their thighs. Wow, you think - if that's what they call fat, what must they think I am? A beached whale?
Not many women are brave enough to put themselves through that experience more than once. Thank goodness belly dancing isn't like that!
Belly Dancing is for All Women
Belly dancing isn't like that for lots of reasons. Belly dancers generally are less judgmental and more sympathetic - and more likely to be all shapes and sizes themselves, because:
- belly dance isn't popular with children and teens - so most of the people in a belly dance class started as adult beginners themselves.
- belly dance doesn't require a lot of flexibility or stamina to get started, so it attracts a lot of women who always wanted to dance but couldn't. Often, they've never exercised before, and it was children who got in the way - so they're a mixture of ages from a young mom whose children have just started school, to a retiree whose kids have finally left home. And they're not likely to be super-fit gym junkies!
- Virtually all the moves in a beginners' belly dance class are done standing up or walking around, and are achievable no matter what your shape. So larger women are more likely to stay in a belly dance class, because they never have to feel left out of anything.
Learn Belly Dancing at Home
If you're really shy about going to a class, you can learn to belly dance at home using DVD's.
By all means work with a DVD for a few weeks to get you started - there are plenty of belly dancing DVDs for beginners. I recommend Michelle Joyce's "Belly Dance Basics" because it really does cover the basics well - but I urge you to give a belly dance class a try. I can almost guarantee you'll be glad you did!
Belly Dance Celebrates Curves!
Blue belly dancer photo by Halyma.