I’ve never understood how fitness could be flirty or workouts sexy. I’d be happy if we were all part of the step aerobics class my mom took in the 90s. There’d be a mandatory uniform of baggy GAP sweatshirts and scrunched socks. Everyone would look terrible but proud to be rhythmically challenged and stepping on command. That’s a workout I can get behind. NOT some mid-rift baring, hip shaking, fun exercise like bellydancing.

The bellydancing took place at Eco Loft and Garden, a co-op in Pilsen. I was the second one to arrive followed only by two more class members. I was relieved. The class was not shaping up to be the mega gym, mass Zumba demonstration, I had seen go down on the fourth hour of the Today Show.

We talked while we stretched and I got to know Andrea, our instructor, and Colleen, the 70-year-old school principal who wanted to shake up her typical sedentary routine. If you want inspiration, look no further than Colleen. I only hope to be as adventurous at 70 as she is. Shortly after, our two other classmates arrived and we all did our best Shakira impersonations. (This didn’t happen but I wanted it to.)

The key to bellydancing is isolation. Isolating certain muscles to get them to move independently of the rest of your body. It’s as tricky as it sounds. It was easier at first; I picked up on the head swivel real fast. I can show some real physical sass if needed, ask my sixth grade teacher. But when it came to the belly part, everything felt robotic. I could have dominated that step aerobic class but bellydancing requires feeling and confidence and Beyonce.

We practiced each new move several times which helped. I thank our instructor, Andrea, for that. Several times, what I’m learning from my Dabble experiences, is what I need to understand anything. Towards the end of class Andrea let me borrow her coin belt so that I could truly see how my hips don’t lie. I was surprised at how much noise my shaking hips made. I could be an understudy for a Bollywood extra, maybe.

This could have been one of my scariest classes and yet it was so far from that. No one was forced to show their pale winter bellies and I was not required to use my body to flirt. I ended up really enjoying myself. Which goes back to what this whole journey is about, taking chances and being pleasantly surprised.


Ali Kelley is a 20-something trying to figure out her life one Dabble at a time. Be sure to check back each Wednesday to see her newest Dabble class adventure, and cheer her on with words of encouragement through the comments section below or on Twitter @freegiantparty.