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The fitness dance

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

The fitness dance

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HERE A CERTAIN MYSTICAL ALLURE to the art of belly dancing. Perhaps it’s the fluid movements, or the artistic and sensual way you move your body. But it has grown into one of the best forms of exercise.
No one knows that better than Rosemarie Layne. A dance aficionado by training and profession, Rosemarie has been teaching belly dancing for six years.
“I started the school when I was 40,” said Rosemary. I did ballroom and Latin dance for years, which require a partner. So I took a backseat from that but I got introduced to belly dancing through a DVD in 2003 as an exercise. Then I started formal classes in 2006 and I was learning other styles. I used to teach Latin dance and then I thought I could teach this and I knew I would enjoy it, plus get the health benefits. You didn’t need a partner, so people came. I have had two men do the class, but more women tend to flock to it.”
Not only did Rosemarie enjoy it, she touted the benefits of it that far outweighed the physical ones.
“Women feel empowered and more in control of themselves with belly dancing,” she said.
Part of its allure with women, apart from its sensual nature, is, that it gives a pretty amazing workout.
 “People seem to have a stigma about belly dancing, because they think you have to have a perfect body to do it, or it attracts sexual attention,” Rosemarie said. “Women are doing pole dancing now, but this is not as hard as that but it does challenge your muscles.”
 One thing that Rosemarie noticed is the growing numbers of middle-aged and older women opting to take up belly dancing.
“It’s something you can do from young, but you can age gracefully with it,” Rosemarie said.   
 “Women, if they are pregnant or have reproductive issues, it helps with the birth process and then after you had the baby it helps to firm up.”
Rosemarie added that women take it up because of a myriad of issues.
“It’s grounding because you’re connected to the earth,” she says. “It’s done at a dance studio and we use mirrors. It helps with your poise, balance and confidence. People come to do it for weight loss and they come to help them be a bit more graceful. One woman did it because she felt she was losing touch with her sensuality.”
For Rosemarie, though, she personally likes belly dancing because of its holistic approach.
“It engages your whole spectrum and it has dance and the energy channeling,” she says. There are people who have fuller stomachs. This is an exercise form that you can do isolating certain muscles and it’s fun.  
“Women are concerned that by a certain age they tend to get a little saggy, but it tones the abs in a highly effective way. The best part is that you can get a lot in one form without any special equipment. Belly dancing is a whole body workout and you can get super fit.”