As a fitness professional and Belly Dance Instructor for over 10 years, I have been asked this question time and time again. Women, men, and students alike have gently (and sometimes blatantly) played around with the idea that Belly Dance creates a “pooch” of fat in the abdomen. My response? “If belly dancing makes your belly fat, then I should have an OBESE belly by now!”
The truth is belly dancing does NOT make your belly fat and it does NOT cause a pooch, in fact, it does just the opposite. Many of the isolations used in Belly Dance center around the continual contraction of the rectus abdominus, obliques, quadratus lumborum, and other surrounding muscles of the “core”. Over time these muscles begin to strengthen providing great benefits such as improved posture, coordination and balance (think of Belly Dance movements as a form of fancy sit-ups!). In addition, belly dancing increases caloric expenditure (it burns calories!), improves heart and lung function, and is a great form of low-impact exercise.
Now, what DOES cause the belly to have a pooch is constipation, pregnancy*, lack of muscle tone in the core and excess adipose tissue (fat!).
*I recommend that postpartum women take Belly Dance classes to tighten their abdominal wall muscles to help pull everything back into place.
Q: Then why do so many Belly Dancers have pooches?
A: Because ANY woman can learn to Belly Dance! There’s no age, weight, height or body type required to learn! We see women of all makes and models expressing themselves via the empowering art of Belly Dance because the movements are attainable!…not to mention gentle, feminine, sensual and FUN! There’s no major stress on the body, and no extreme flexibility required. Simply learn how to control your muscles and voila!, you’re belly dancing!
So there ya have it folks. Belly dancing does not cause belly fat or belly pooches! People erroneously equate “Belly Dance = Pooch” because FORTUNATELY, BELLY DANCE WELCOMES WOMEN OF ALL SHAPES!!!…BELLY FAT AND ALL!
…I’ve also been asked if belly dancing “messes up your organs or is bad for your stomach?”…and that my friends is a whole other blog. Although I think you may already know the answer to that one!