Fitness-conscious women in the region are learning belly dancing as an innovative way to shed excess fat.
Belly dance is a traditional Arabic dance in which every part of a woman’s body moves, especially the hips and belly.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Huda Dogan, managing partner of Fitness 360, a new health club brand from the Al Maya group, said: “We are giving belly dancing classes as part of our regular fitness training for women. Don’t go by the name ‘belly dance’, which has negative connotations. Here it is taught only as a good exercise and our aim is to use belly dance as a body building tool. It is one of the most popular sessions in our health and fitness clubs. We are planning to have three new fitness centres including a women-only fitness club in Jumeirah, close to the local communities.”
Though some people consider belly dancers as strippers or prostitutes, the dance form is gaining popularity as an exercise too.
In Arab society there is a stigma attached to this dance form. “There is a big need for exclusive ladies fitness centres in the UAE. We are planning many innovative fitness exercises like boxing ring and belly dance training, which you don’t normally see in a fitness centre.”
She said belly dancing is accepted by the majority of their club members, currently 3500. “But we have only one Arab woman who can provide expert belly dancing courses,” she said.
She said “belly dancing involves stretching and toning your body while learning this ancient and feminine dance. |The movements of belly dance will sculpt and firm up your body, while increasing stamina and grace without stress and fatigue. Belly dance promotes weight loss by burning calories, building muscle and stimulating your digestive system,” she added.
Most of the movements in belly dancing involve isolating different parts of the body--hips, shoulders, chest and stomach. While there are private belly dancing classes on offer for individuals and groups by private tutors, ‘Fitness 360’ claims it is only the fitness club offering it as an exercise to shed excess weight.
Belly dancing, say experts, is a graceful expression of the human body, mesmerising the audience with its unique movements. A belly dancer's moves are comparable to those of a snake because it utilizes practically every muscle in the body.
Huda said there is great demand for women- only fitness centres. “There is great demand for our services, especially from obese youngsters and women who want to remain slim and fit. Obesity is a major issue in the region and our training courses are attracting a lot of obese people,” she said, adding that each fitness centre has a women-only section and a common facility for both the sexes.
The club is also offering other martial arts-type work outs, power yoga and zumba exercises. Deepak Lalwani, chief operating officer of Fitness 360, said there are women- only areas in their three clubs.
“There is complete privacy and security in our clubs and the women’s sections are completely secluded from the male section. In addition, photography and the use of the mobile phone is not allowed in the club area. Taking into account the culture of Arab customers, we are opening a women-only fitness club in Jumeirah. Women in the age group of 14 to 60 are our club members and all our staff in the women-only club will be females,” he said. “Women are more committed to fitness than men,” he added.
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