Health & Science

Belly dancing provides alternative exercise

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Mar. 21, 2006 


Freshmen Sarah Boukarih and Amy Haag chat outside the Multi-Sport 3 room of the Student Recreational Sports Center, glancing at the door next to them every couple of minutes. Boukarih and Haag are the first of 12 women to arrive to the Middle Eastern Belly Dance Sampler.

"I'm from the Middle East and my mom used to teach me to dance when I was younger so I thought I'd check the class out," Boukarih said.

The sampler is one of the alternative fitness classes the SRSC offers.

"This class is something different," said senior Eileen Folmer, one of the Middle Eastern Dance instructors. "(It is) definitely different from the recreational services Recreational Sports offers."

The class combines Middle Eastern dance and Egyptian Oriental moves, as well as Lebanese, Turkish, folkloric, theater and earthy movements, Folmer said.

Though the class appears to be more for amusement purposes, it is geared toward fitness, Folmer said.

"You move a lot in this class," Folmer said. "It really works your entire body."

Intricate movements such as isolation, a technique where the upper body moves while the lower body is kept still, are taught in the class. Isolation is quickly introduced in the sampler.

"These movements strengthen areas in your body that don't normally use all your muscles," Folmer said.

The SRSC also offers MED I, a Mind Body Series that focuses more in depth on the different techniques in Middle Eastern belly dancing according to the RS Mind Body pamphlet. The MED I series runs from March 6 through April 30 and is available for $35 if taken once a week. If taken twice a week, the MED I classes are $60. Registration is available at Member Services at the SRSC.

As the class comes to an end, Folmer teaches one last


"You all might recognize this move right here," she said.

An enthusiastic response erupts from the class as the instructor teaches them the "Shakira move," the classic chest thrust the Columbian singer repeats in her music video

"La Tortura."

Folmer said the class makes women feel good about themselves, no matter their size.

"I had a lot of fun today," senior Anna Kundysek said. "I'll be back next week for sure."


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