I think I may have been born a dancer but in the wrong kind of body - at least going by today's rail-thin dancer physique. I used to dance quite a bit in my younger years, and when I was a University student I spent a lot of time in group fitness classes, dancing around, punching the air, doing high kicks... You get my drift. Boppy cardio, nothing muscular - even my legs wouldn't really feel a burn.
Since discovering the importance of strength training and the down-side of endurance exercise, I had been playing around with HIIT, Tabata, CrossFit... And, to be honest, I found them all pretty boring. Grunting and sweating and stop-starting? Bleh.
So I started playing around with the more-lyrical-yet-bloody-difficult art of Yoga, which I'm really enjoying, but it too started to get a bit 'samey'.
Enter belly dancing.
I've only been to two classes, but I'm apparently a natural, and everything just feels natural - my body was meant to move this way. It's still hard work, especially on the always-bent legs, always-raised arms, and always-undulating abs. It's great for back flexibility, and reverses the tension I build up in my shoulders and neck when I spent long periods at my desk.
However, the real delight I gain from the classes is the deep-rooted, primal urge I feel when performing the movements. There's something absolutely instinctual about this manner of moving. It's nowhere near the airy-fairy feeling of ballet and aerobics - this sensation is rooted in the earth, and my head is flooded with feminine imagery and feminine connections.
Another bonus - having boobs and bum is actually a bonus, since they emphasise my smaller waist as I shake and drop my hips and shimmy my shoulders! There are two twiglets in my class, and you really can't see what they're trying to do. It's all about the figure 8 - and I'm not talking about the movement!
I could push myself to exercise even if I wasn't enjoying it, since I know how important activity is for health - but why force yourself to do something you don't love? Belly dancing doesn't feel like work - actually, it feels more like sex. ;) And with the mad group of girls I'm dancing with on Mondays, that's the usual topic of conversation! Without over-romanticising the practice, I think belly dancing is the closest I'll get to the way traditional societies operate: women have their activities and rituals, the tribal instincts drive interactions, there's a fire for dancing around, and many reasons to celebrate...
And - let's face it - most guys would rather watch a curvy woman with an exposed midriff shimmy and shake than some boyish twig bounce around in glo-mesh. It's just natural.