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Belly dancing – exercise and fitness for women of all ages and shapes and a route to your inner goddess

Updated on June 20, 2012

Belly dancing is a superb way in which any woman can increase her fitness, while at the same time learning to feel good about herself and her body. It is one of the safest forms of exercise as well as being empowering and whole lot of fun.

I've chosen several videos showing different styles of belly dancing to various types of music. The dance is evolving all the time, as well as being fused with other traditions.  

Benefits of belly dancing

Belly dancing is a form of aerobic exercise. Depending on how vigorously it is performed, it uses approximately 200-300 calories per hour, the equivalent of walking 2-3 miles. Thus it helps to keep your heart healthy and can also contribute to weight loss.

You can tailor the intensity of the dance to your own needs. Belly dancing can be done at any age and any level of fitness.

Amira's Bellydance 101 Belly Dancing Basics For Beginners
Amira's Bellydance 101 Belly Dancing Basics For Beginners

One of the best instruction videos for complete beginners to belly dancing


The basic equipment is a scarf

Tzou Red Belly Dance Skirt Hip Scarf
Tzou Red Belly Dance Skirt Hip Scarf

Amazon sellers offer many belly dance scarves at very low prices. Why not buy a selection to match your mood or for each day of the week?


During the dance, the weight is shifted through the hips from one leg to the other. This provides gentle strengthening for the bones and joints, which can help to prevent osteoporosis. In addition, if done with caution, the movements of the hips and abdomen can relieve backache and strengthen the back to make it more resistant in future.

Done gently, belly dancing is an excellent form of exercise to use in pregnancy.

Every part of the body is stretched during the dance so your whole body becomes toned.

The positions used in belly dancing encourage good posture.

Dancing barefoot exercises and strengthens the muscles and tendons of the feet.

When performed by experts, belly dancing is a complex and subtle art form. However, it is possible to dance using just a few very basic movements. If, like me, you have tried other dance forms and felt clumsy and uncoordinated, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you can achieve with belly dance.

Belly dancing is voluptuous and sensual. It brings out the beauty of every woman and makes her feel like a goddess. It does miracles for self-esteem and empowerment as well as relieving stress.

Sacred Bellydance
Sacred Bellydance

Highly recommended not just as a compedium of moves, but also for the spiritual approach


Making a start

 You can start with no equipment or other costs whatsoever, except for the price of a regular class or a teaching video to use at home.  There are a number of videos available on Youtube

Many women prefer to wear a long swirly skirt and top, with some choosing to expose and others to conceal their midriff. Some, choose to wear trousers or long gym pants. There are no rules! Many teachers recommend tying a scarf around the hips; some will bring an assortment of jingly scarves or coin belts for pupils to borrow during class. Most women dance in bare feet, although non-slip dancing slippers can be worn if desired.

Masters of Bellydance Music
Masters of Bellydance Music

A vary varied selection of tunes to dance to by some of the top musicians in the field


There are several different styles of belly dance, with new ones evolving all the time: for example, classical Egyptian and Turkish, glitzy cabaret/restaurant style, folkloric style with the dancer wearing a floor-length caftan, dances with accessories such as finger cymbals, veils, canes or Isis wings, American tribal style, which often incorporates elements from other dance forms such as flamenco.

World Dance: Latin Hits Hits for Bellydance
World Dance: Latin Hits Hits for Bellydance

One of my teachers used to mix belly dance moves with salsa steps. This would be the ideal musical accompaniment for such a fusion


In any beginner level class, the same basic movements will be taught. However, the style in which the teacher specialises may influence her choice of music. Teachers may use classical Arab music, world music, “new age” music, pop music or any mixture of these.

Teachers also vary with respect to ambition for their classes. Some are happy to keep accepting new beginners and to keep going over and over the same basic moves. Others like to get together a tight-knit committed group and groom them for group and solo performances.

If you are intending to join a class, have a chat with the teacher first and, if possible, take part in one or two classes to see if the style and pace are right for you.


If you cannot get to a regular class, the occasional weekend course could be an option to broaden your horizons. Definitely also keep a lookout for haflas in your region. These are belly dancing parties, organised by teachers but frequently open to anyone. Dancers of all levels converge on a room to eat, drink and watch each other dance. There is usually a mixture of solo spots, class displays and a general free for all. Many haflas also include a bazaar, where you can admire and buy wonderful costumes and accessories. These are marvellous opportunities to experience different styles and explore new possibilities.

If you are looking for a way to be fit and healthy, and at the same time to bring out your internal Goddess, nothing fits the bill better than belly dancing.


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    • profile image

      Ria 2 years ago

      Have been thinking about this for a while. Love that you include a video detailing a spiritual approach :)

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Helen Laxner 5 years ago from Illinois

      Wow! This makes it sound like something even this rythymless woman could do. I think I will give it a try. I live in a rural area and won't be able to take a class but I might try watching a video or two and just testing it out. Thanks for sharing.

    • shyanne72 profile image

      Shyanne 5 years ago from Florida

      Belly dancing is a wonderful way of toning muscles, and what's so cool about it is that it is so much fun dancing that you don't realize the tough workout is even happening. Did you know that keeping your muscles tight and tone helps prevent signs of aging and cellulite dimples? What female can afford to miss out?

    • ludmilla701 profile image

      ludmilla701 7 years ago from U.A.E.

      Great hub! Thanks.

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 8 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      I'd love to visit Rio and see some of the samba schools. I've been to a couple of samba playing workshops and had huge fun, especially when it was my turn to bash the really big surdo drum!

    • Mamelody profile image

      Mamelody 8 years ago

      I've been a belly dancer since I was four years old. As a Brazilian, we love to dance, and dancing is one of my passions. My grandmother is Lebanese and so she taught me most of what I know today. I enjoy the Hawaii style rounding belly dance and the costumes are awesome. I belly dance almost everyday especially when I'm cooking! Fantastic hub hun and I would encourage you to visit us here in Rio.. we have loads of belly dancers who will teach you new concepts and new moves.

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 8 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      Hello nadp,

      I'm actually horribly inflexible in my hips. I was tested once and found to have about 20% of normal rotation there. Belly dancing helps with this. Obviously, I'm a bit more limited than some, but in the right sort of class it doesn't matter the slightest!

    • nadp profile image

      nadp 8 years ago from WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

      Hi WriteAngled. I really enjoyed this hub - it makes me feel like maybe I could try belly dancing. I've seen performances a number of times and always wished I could learn, but I thought you had to have some special flexibility or talent. I'll keep my eyes open for a class.


    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 8 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      Thanks everyone. Glad to meet other enthusiasts! Devin, do you like to belly dance yourself ;) Actually, male belly dancers do exist.

    • DevinG profile image

      DevinG 8 years ago from Redlands

      I like belly dancing; maybe I should try to get my girlfriend into it. xD

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 8 years ago from Sydney

      How did I miss this Hub on one of my favourite topics? I agree, belly dancing is a terrific exercise especially for older women, because you can put a dance together with basic moves and it doesn't matter what shape you're in. At the other end of the spectrum there's a lot of artistry and skill to appreciate in the professionals.

    • ladylux profile image

      ladylux 8 years ago

      I started belly dancing 20 years ago because, like you WriteAngled, I wanted to embrace my womanly body, but I also wanted to do a form of exercise that felt more utilitarian. LOL. I've slowed down considerably since my daughter was born 6 years ago, but occasionally can be coaxed into performing. It's so nice to see people like you keeping the art form alive. Thanks!

    • TINA V profile image

      TINA V 8 years ago

      You are right. Belly dancing is a superb way for women's fitness. It is not just an ordinary exercise but it is also a form of an art. The movements are so feminine and graceful. The swaying of our hips helps make the body curves. Although I tried it before but sad to say that I'm not consistent.

      You have shared a very good idea to your readers. Keep on writing. . .

    • CrystalStarWoman profile image

      CrystalStarWoman 8 years ago from Pevensey Bay, East Sussex, England

      I used to go to Belly Dancing classes and loved it! I have 4 different coin scarves and a couple of outfits (though I never actually got my belly out - after four kids, it's not a pretty sight! lol)

      I had to give it up, quite a while ago however, through lack of money and transport, and a health problem, but I do miss it.

      Perhaps I could start doing it again at home, on my own - but it was such fun doing it in a class!

      Great hub!

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 8 years ago from The English Midlands

      Maybe I should try this!!

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 8 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      Thank you, Katrina!

      MG, belly dancing itself will get you into shape and train you little by little. You start with simple things, as in the first video. In my best class, we never got beyond beginner stage because some people had difficulties mastering the moves and new people were coming in all the time. However, the atmosphere was amazing. I attended that class during one of the darkest periods of my life, and it really helped me to survive.

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 8 years ago from Texas

      Wow this is a great hub, I've always been interested in belly dancing, it looks like it could be a lot of fun. Definitely requires some training and will have to get in shape first.:) Thanks for sharing!

    • Katrina Ariel profile image

      Katrina Ariel 8 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Belly dancing is super fun! Great videos. Congrats on the hubnugget status!

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 8 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      Hi Laura, yes, I agree, the expert dancers are really incredible to watch. The good thing about being able to attend classes when I started was that I was able to see that most beginners were as ungainly as me. We laughed ourselves silly at our efforts, which added to the terrific atmosphere of the class :)

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 8 years ago from Aurora

      I think belly dancing is beautiful, but I've not tried it. I worked in a Lebanese restaurant that featured them long ago. The athleticism, control plus artistry amazed me!

      How fun!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I enjoy doing the shimmies are not alone..I'm getting curvier too as I grow older hahahahaha

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 8 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      I'm rather more curvy than I would prefer, ripplemaker! As such, I find belly dancing is a great way to exercise and feel good about rather than being totally embarassed. I even have a built-in advantage when doing shimmies, 'cos there's already a lot of wobbly bits present *grin*

      Totally amazed about the nomination. Thank you!

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 8 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      Tahitian dancing in Hawaii sound most tempting as I shiver in cold snowy Wales!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Writeangled, if I can do this often, for sure, I will become super sexy and curvy too. Hahahahah Love your hub and will bookmark it so I can come back to watch the videos over and over for some home belly dancing fun.

      In the meantime, I give you my warmest congratulations for your Olympic Hubnugget Nomination! Hurrah! Yes! Hre is the link:

      Vote and promote, okay?

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Great hub. I enjoy watching belly dancing and it is similar to the Tahitian dancing here in Hawaii. Good exercise! Aloha!

    • WriteAngled profile image

      WriteAngled 8 years ago from Abertawe, Cymru

      I bought a costume as well. They are such fun. Unfortunately, a class I loved stopped because the teacher had to concentrate on a course she is doing. I only dance for myself at home at the moment.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 8 years ago from France

      I love belly dancing, I am not an expert and I don't do it as often as I would like to, usually I only do it for fun. A while ago I bougth myself the full costume which I have worn in several occassions to amuse friends :)