Rec Center offers belly dancing fitness class

Danny Cozzi

DeKALB | Students are finding a new way to get physical every week as part of a new dance class offered at the Campus Recreation Center.

The Rec Center recently started offering a belly dancing class twice a week as part of its group fitness programs. The class meets at 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday.

Kristen Patenaude, sophomore health sciences major and belly dance instructor, said the dance puts the whole body to work, rather than a target muscle group like most other exercises.

“It works everything,” Patenaude said. “The thought that it only works your core is a common misconception.”

Patenaude said she has been working as a dance teacher at the Rec Center for two years. She began incorporating belly dancing into her general dance classes last year. Eventually, it was crafted into its own class to provide a specific focus on belly dancing, she said.

Patenaude said there is a dance move called “snake arms” which focuses primarily on arm muscles.

All the moves are simplified to a pace everyone can follow, but gets heart rates up and running at the same time, Patenaude said.

Eric Appiah, Rec Center assistant director of fitness and wellness, said the stylistic dance is easy to learn due to its low impact on the muscles; however, belly dancing is a very effective workout for the cardiovascular system from the constant rate of movement.

The movements are easily broken down, which also makes them easier to learn, Appiah said.

“It’s not difficult at all,” Appiah said. “They go over the same routine, and [Patenaude] is very good at breaking it down to people who can’t get it. Once they get it, they can learn new dances and variations of the moves.”

Megan Louthain, sophomore early childhood education major, has been attending the class weekly since the semester began. She said she likes the simplicity of the lessons as well.

“[Patenaude] breaks it down for everyone and makes it very easy to learn,” Louthain said.