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Embracing Belly Dance as Both an Art and Fitness Regimen

Updated on October 4, 2017

Our Bodies Were Made To Move!

I have always believed and maintain that being a great belly dancer requires not only having excellent technique, passionate delivery and a strong knowledge of Middle Eastern music and rhythms, but also demands having a strong and healthy body overall. While it is not necessary for belly dancers to fit the ideal body image typically seen in other dance disciplines or in Hollywood, I personally enjoy being fit and staying in shape as a decision I made years ago in my quest for overall health and fitness. I believe that as we get older, it is paramount that we work hard to take better care of ourselves both inside and outside. We’ve all heard these expressions: ‘A strong mind equals a strong body’, ‘our bodies were designed to move’ and ‘you are what you eat’. Granted, they may be very cliche to some, but are principles by which I live and truly believe in. I will always insist that it is never too late to start training and observing a healthy lifestyle, regardless of who you are, when you start or even what your health challenges may be. Naturally, it is important to check with your health professional prior to participating in any fitness/dance program, but there are many who are still able to observe a lifestyle which includes regular exercise, in spite of certain challenges. The key is in listening to the caveats from your doctor and doing what is right for YOUR body type as it relates to YOUR individual health concerns.

Combining Dance With Exercise - Double Your Pleasure!

Those who truly know me know that I am an advocate of – and have been consistently devoted to – a life of health and fitness for years. I didn’t always challenge myself in the past as I do now, but I have always been all about taking care of myself and learning new ways to improve my exercise routine. I find that I am a lot bolder now about trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone, something I never would have considered in my teens or in my 20s! Although I am not fitness certified, I have had the privilege of having been mentored by friends who are certified personal trainers, dance instructors of all disciplines, yoga instructors and more. They have helped me a great deal in teaching me proper form, technique, terminology and more. For that, I am eternally grateful because I have been able to help others along the way in addition to reaching my own goals. Along with teaching belly dance classes in Philadelphia for over 6 years, I also included various forms of exercise within the dance routines to make the most out of my students’ learning time. By incorporating both things I love (fitness and belly dance routines), it greatly helped my students achieve, not just a rich dance vocabulary, but also the motivation to strive for a healthier and more fit way of life through combined exercises and dance movements. The truth is, dance is exercise in itself, so it makes perfect sense to combine fitness elements for a greater challenge!

A Workout That Doesn't Feel Like A Workout!

I get an enormous sense of satisfaction in encouraging and motivating others to get moving and get healthy! I love helping others by providing tips on different exercises and healthy eating habits that I follow myself and which have been instrumental in my strong desire for a better way of life. These exercises are not always belly dance-related, but at times, they are belly dance-inspired! When I began training in belly dance, I did it with the intention of working out my body because I thought it would be excellent for improving flexibility, strength and stamina. While this is absolutely the truth, I didn’t realize I’d fall in love with the art form to the point of wanting to perform it professionally, which for me, was of even greater satisfaction since I love the stage and the rush of performing. As it turns out, I was blessed enough to reap the benefits from both! I love this art and I love that I have had the ability to professionally entertain audiences as well as educate others in it, but I also love what it has done for me physically. From a fitness perspective, I have seen dramatic changes in my body and health benefits that belly dance has afforded me over the years. As such, I have always embraced it as both a beautiful art form and an important fitness regimen in my life. Hence, the reason why I will always continue with it as long as I have breath in my body! I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment when I find unique ways to combine fitness elements with belly dance because I know that not only am I doing something wonderful for my health, but I am also enjoying an amazing and challenging dance that allows me to move in ways I never thought I could. There are many things in life we cannot control, but I am thankful that with belly dance, I CAN control the way I want to move and express myself.

As always, I will continue to educate myself in all aspects of fitness and belly dance to improve my overall health and provide valuable insight to those who care about living stronger and healthier lives.

© 2017 Ruth Nunez aka Rena


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