Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fat-burning Belly Dance

THE WORKOUT: Dance Off the Inches Fat Burning Belly Dance ($13.49 from Amazon)


WHO CAN DO THIS: "Belly dance" is a bit of a misnomer for this Bollywoodish, Egyptian-esque fusion of hip twitches 'n' things. The workout might raise the blood pressure of dance dabblers, and not always in a good way. It’s fast and tricky in parts, even with the Step Guide. But if you are willing to take the time to master it, it has potential as a fresh and potentially sexy (once you get past klutzy) cardio dance workout.

THE BREAKDOWN: The Dance Off the Inches series always includes a Step Guide, which breaks down moves slowly. Much as I appreciate that, I’m usually pretty cocky about skipping those and getting right into the workout. But just watching the snippets of the workout in the intro was enough to convince me to start with the Step Guide, which breaks down the 10 basic moves of the dances. The footwork is easy but those of us unaccustomed to moving our hips, arms and torso with the fluidity required might feel awkward. Dancer Kili Marti urges us to “Dance like no one’s looking,” to which I say, “amen.” I was glad not to even have a mirror for this one. Some things are better left unseen.

Five chapters add up to a 45-minute workout and include Belly Moves Groove, Cleopatra Cardio Combo, Hip Roll Hindi Cardio and a warm-up and cool-down. It's all about the cardio, not much workout for the muscles. Marti cheerfully breaks down steps briefly during the routines but doesn’t pamper you through them. Her cueing is adequate, not great; some counts and cueing on right-left would help. The introduction of the arms to steps always set me a-flailing so I sometimes I gave up on those to focus on the feet and hips. Each routine is pretty short, so if you struggle with one just hang on, another one follows soon.

THE SWEAT FACTOR: I’m in OK but not peak condition right now and worked up a sweat. Most exhausted were my arms, which are kept raised and moving through the dances.

THE ENERGY LEVEL: Mostly low-impact, fairly high-energy.

BUT IS IT FUN? After one time through, the frustration somewhat outweighed the fun. However, although I mastered no complete routine well enough to really dance, I’m probably just a few more run-throughs from getting the hang of most of it. Except for one hip swiveling turn that had me bumfuzzled...

WHEN IT'S OVER: If you're not a hardbody you'll probably be sweaty. I also was left with a Middle Eastern music earworm.

GEAR AND APPAREL: Aerobic shoes and enough space for some forward and back and side-to-side grapevines.

FINAL SAY: I have other workouts I prefer, this one will probably sit on the shelf.

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