Belly dancing classes have long been staples at community centers, but they've recently begun to shake their way into the mainstream. Major health club chains like Crunch, New York Health & Racquet, and 24-Hour Fitness now offer their own versions, giving the Middle Eastern dance a fitness twist.
The classes still embrace the “love your body no matter what” mind-set and celebration of femininity typical of traditional classes. They're also still set to Arabic music (some dancers even wear silky hip-wraps embellished with dangling gold coins, though theyre not required).
But they've traded the customary stop-and-go format for a nonstop, heart-pumping cardio workout. As a result, you tone and whittle your middle while burning up to an impressive 350 calories in a 60-minute class.
You can try your hand—and hips—at this new breed of belly dancing at home, too, thanks to the many books and DVDs that have come out during the past couple of years. Either way, fitness belly dancing is worth a try, especially if your workout routine needs a little shaking up.