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Archive for October, 2011

I hear this question all the time:

“So will belly dance make me lose weight?”

It’s a complicated response, the answer is both yes and no.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of women are drawn to the dance by the weight loss marketing schemes adopted by many popular DVDs. The message is this: Shapely women with all the right curves belly dancing… buy this and join their ranks! So how come dancing to the video twice a week hasn’t made you lose weight? No wonder so many come to the conclusion “belly dance for weight loss just doesn’t work”.

But it does.

Belly dance is cardio and gentle strength training exercise. If you want to lose weight belly dancing, you’ll need to treat it like a proper workout regiment.

How to Belly Dance to Lose Weight:

  • Practice for at least three hours a week (that’s six half hour sessions, if you like!). The average woman will burn approximately 300 calories per hour, so this will add up to about 900 calories for the week or about 1/4 pound.
  • Make a playlist of your favorite dancing tunes. Hit play, start dancing, and don’t stop until your time is up. In a workout, you’re not necessarily practicing your technique in front of the mirror. The goal is to keep moving!
  • Traveling steps and layering your movements will burn more calories.
  • Don’t forget to use your arms! Keeping them up and switching positions means a better workout. For extra resistance, add a veil or heavy pair of finger cymbals.
  • Try a belly dance fitness or aerobics class. These are usually geared towards getting students to move and use large muscle groups. Technique classes often have a lot of down time.
  • Can you belly dance and do chores around the house? Hey if you have to vacuum, do dishes, or dust, why not add a shimmy to these activities? Workout + housework = more time to soak in the tub afterwards!
  • Try to reduce your calorie intake by about 300 calories per day. Make yourself aware of the serving sizes on the back of the packaging. Keep a food journal to keep track of your intake if necessary.
  • Supplement your belly dance workout with other exercise training. Light strength training with weights and yoga are great compliments.

What I Can Expect:

  • With a calorie reduction and regular practice, about one to two pounds of weight loss a week. Remember that weight loss over two pounds a week is not recommended by doctors.
  • Some toning in the abs, arms, and glutes, as these are the muscles used to produce the movements. Additional strength training, however, is needed to produce significant results. Belly dance is more effective as a cardio (think lose fat) rather than strength training (think tone muscles) exercise.
  • Better posture, coordination, and flexibility.

Including belly dance in your weight loss routine is a great choice. It’s fun and exciting, and can make sticking to a workout much easier. Remember that regular practice is necessary, and that the most effective plans will incorporate diet and other forms of exercise.

Some Related Myths:

  • Bellydance does NOT make your stomach stick out or make you gain weight.
  • You do NOT have to be thin, or young, or curvy, or (fill in your body image issue here) to belly dance. Women of all shapes and sizes can and do participate professionally.

What do you think? Has belly dancing helped you lose weight? Do you have some tips of your own? Please comment below!

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