Belly Dance for Exercise

Amanda (was Aziyade)

Well-known member
I'ma gonna come out of lurk mode to say one thing. I recently (July) got certified to teach SharQui, Oreet Schwartz's bellydance fitness program. I can't praise it enough, but I want to make a point:

SharQui is not the "bad bellydance fitness fusion" nonsense that we saw in the 90s, with all the hopping and weird movements, and it's not whatever weird Zumba fusion thing is currently taught in some communities. It's certainly not that horrific "Cardio Cabaret" crap in ACE's catalog.

SharQui, the format, IS belly dance. Everything she teaches (and by extension, the people who teach with that format) is what you would learn in a regular dance class.

The difference is how it's put together, and how it's taught in the individual class. For fitness classes you need to pace the class so the participants keep their heart rates at a certain percentage of maximum. You don't want them to stop moving. With SharQui, you teach a constantly moving class, starting with (for example) hip bumps, then adding on footwork, then gradually adding more movements to make a short combination, ultimately leading up to a series of combinations that become the "routine" the participants repeat several times in the class.

These combinations are normal every-day bellydance combinations, but danced a little faster, and with an emphasis on keeping the movement going.

It's bellydance, but taught inside the framework of a floor aerobics class.

Now, one of the things we've lamented on these boards is the decline in class numbers, and dwindling interest for our dance classes. But FITNESS classes, on the other hand, often attract a different kind of student, and those student numbers are growing. It makes sense, from a business standpoint, to shift our marketing efforts over to fitness enthusiasts. The pool of interested people is much larger.

I don't view fitness classes as a threat anymore, because I LOVE tappercize and dance aerobics classes where there is no pressure to perform, and the focus is just zoning out of life and being in the moment in the class. I just want an hour to focus on being physical, and not trying to be an artist or expressing my "self." Sometimes my "self" just needs a break and a good workout. :)


I've been meaning to ask you about your experience with that, so thankyou.

On a similar note, I've been halfway tempted to get pulse8 certification for similar reasons - from what I've seen it appears to be bellydance with a fitness class pace. So I'd be really grateful if any of our forum members could tell me what their experience is with pulse8 (bearing in mind I will probably filter it through my Keti fangurl glasses)
It all has to do with the expectations coming into it. Remember, this is a fertility dance so it will activate core muscles and is more about strength and not dramatic weightloss. Thats why you will often see it fused with typical cardio workout moves in dvd's and such. I also got my start with veena and neena so I will always be for a bellydance themed workout because its fun. If something is fun you'll want to do it more. If that's as far as someone wants to go, let them be. Even if you feel that there is so much more beyond it.
Bellydance is great to pair with exercise because it teaches a positive body image.

That kinda sums up my complicated view on the such a broad issue.

Amanda (was Aziyade)

Well-known member
Late to the game as usual, but I think we need to be careful referring to our dance as a "fertility dance."

Having suffered infertility for so many years I had almost given up on having a baby, I strongly resented my dance being referred to as anything "fertility." It was very painful to me. I had a thread on Bhuz about this and most people agreed that as teachers we need to be sensitive and pay attention to our language around students -- I stopped talking about "breasts" when I had my first students with mastectomies.

The pre-history of the dance is unknown, and I've really not seen much evidence connecting with dance with birth rituals except for the fact that midwives were sometimes musicians in ancient Greece/Phoenicia.