I have been teaching belly dance for fitness for a long time. What you may be surprised to know is just how rewarding my job is on several levels. Sure, I help women get fit, and that’s just fantastic. As the obesity epidemic in America tops the charts, I know that my job is helping tip that scale toward optimal good health and well-being in active participants. Ask any fitness professional…I am inclined to believe that across the board each will say, “I love my job.”
But RaqiSa Belly Dance for fitness is special. Based on my humble observation, and the many years of teaching, women who initially participate in a belly dance for fitness class, will walk in with hesitation. The exception may be if the participant is Middle Eastern, and they are aware of the cultural aspects of belly dance and her many traditions and roots. Otherwise, for most, there is a certain mystic and uncertainty that ensues. I suppose there is this projected film image, that is emblazoned in the mind, of tantalizing women in movies who wiggle and move their hips seductively during a scene filled with men, who are foaming at the mouth. This is unfortunately a grave misconception of this timeless, elegant art form with deep cultural roots. And, please, let me be clear: RaqiSa Dance is in actuality a beautiful, (and dare I say) respectable dance enjoyed with and for women to celebrate her beauty, to celebrate family, and even love.
In due time, women who grow in the signature RaqiSa formats, such as Belly Barre, Belly Dance, and Belly Ball often share with me three amazing things: 1) they are acutely aware of their posture throughout the day, 2) they are complimented by others as they walk with a renewed confidence, 3) they are becoming more fit and flexible, with the added benefit of noticeably more defined abdominals! Do you realize how that makes me feel as a fitness professional? It’s pretty awesome, I can assure you.
To help speed the muscle development as well as the necessary mobility and stability required to be an effective RaqiSa dancer, I train with a fitness ball. Seriously, who doesn’t love playing with a ball? It’s probably the first word most children say, and it’s the one sportive equipment enjoyed at any age. It also happens to be the perfect solution toward effective RaqiSa fitness training. But before I offer my summation, let’s talk essential ball and fitness logistics:
Safety & Guidelines
♦ There are two standard fitness ball sizes: 55 cm & 65 cm.
♦ Standard rule: When seated on the ball the knees should be in line with the hips or slightly above the hips, this determines which ball to use for you. (Test this on a 55 cm or 65 cm ball to see which is best for you).
♦ Maintain good postural alignment by contracting abdominals and keep the chest lifted. Note: shoulders dropped in opposition (and relaxed) if ball is over head.
♦ When learning choreography, master the foot pattern first, then add the ball.
♦ When learning seated ball exercises, beginners should hold on the ball until they are securely engaged through the core for stability. Tip: Find neutral spine and keep shoulders and hips “squared.”
Working with a fitness ball trains all three planes of motion which enhances overall athletic performance and serves as a method to prevent injury. In addition, other benefits include:
♦ Improved coordination, balance, and body awareness
♦ Optimal upper body conditioning as both arms are in constant action, unlike unilateral movements performed with a dumbbell. (This is very much like working with a veil)
♦ An increase in muscular strength and endurance in the upper body.
♦ An improvement in deep abdominal stabilization and an increase in hip range of motion when training seated on the ball.
In Summation, training with a fitness ball will help prepare the body to effectively DANCE. Of particular interest to RaqiSa enthusiasts, the upper body movement is likened to that of a veil and the seated movement enhances hip awareness as it increases hip range of motion. Consider if you will the three dimensional upper body and hip movements one must master with balance and precision. And how about the many stretching options when working with the ball? The possibilities are endless. So if you see Belly Ball as a RaqiSa option, careful to not dismiss this amazing workout, (and effective dance teaching technique). Try belly ball. You can expect to enjoy rapid results with a bonus “fun factor” as you add “play” to your day. Seriously. I. LOVE. MY. JOB!
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The Belly Ball workout is currently in production, so stay tuned for this amazing RaqiSa Fitness solution!