Aerobic Belly Dancing to Zumba
Illustrations: Elena Ray
Blue Tao symbol and Chinese characters meaning: "Strength", "Health" and "Longevity".
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From shimmying shoulders to flowing meditative moves, it seems there’s a workout routine to fit almost everyone’s personality and body type these days. Whether your goal is strength, flexibility, or cardio served up with humor, intensity, or music—it’s all here.
With colors flying and coin-covered scarves jingling, an enthusiastic group of good-humored local women are practicing the ancient and vigorous art of belly dancing.
The shimmying instructor is Denise de Lisser, a local who has been the stalwart of jazz dancing here for years. But now she’s ready for something new. “What I love about it is that it’s for everybody. It is for anybody—for all women. It isn’t an elitist dance class. There’s kind of no right or wrong. We call it bringing out the marvelous woman inside you.”
Upstairs at Pure Body Pilates studio, the wooden floor gleams and a wall of windows looks out over the trees and hills of Hailey. Round white paper lanterns and prayer flags add an esoteric touch and there’s even a plant and lit candle to create a special atmosphere.
Don’t worry—you don’t have to reveal your belly. Just pick an exotic scarf, some with coins, out of the basket and tie it around your waist over your regular workout clothes and you’re ready to dance. Middle Eastern music complete with flutes, drums, or sitars begins. The routine covers all the basics of a regular workout but with an exotic flair.
First breathe the “goddess energy” of the earth in and out, then stretch, and do isolations—moving the different parts of the body separately—but with rhythmic, graceful movements—fluttering fingers, undulating wrists and arms. “It’s a very sensual kind of soft moving,” says de Lisser. The undulating arms are called “snake arms” (reminiscent of the multi-armed Hindu goddess Shiva). And then of course there are the shimmying shoulders and the shaking hips. And cardio with happy folk dancing steps around the room.
Humor is a big part of the class. Lying on her side in the beckoning “Cleopatra” pose to work out the legs, de Lisser jokingly calls to an imaginary Antony, “You can’t have me.”
Laughing and learning something new keeps the brain busy and the “synapses healthy,” says de Lisser. There’s also the “emotional benefit of enjoying the body that you’re in. That’s the point of it. Enjoy your body and what it does. As I age, I just want people to move and have fun moving and not be all competitive.” >>>