Women throughout our culture are growing busier and busier balancing home, kids, and careers, and that juggle is taking a toll on their health and wellness. Bellyfit®, a rapidly expanding holistic fitness system, is helping women find that missing balance.
Victoria, B.C. based Alice Bracegirdle, the founder of Bellyfit, began conceiving a fitness system 10 years ago that would honour the feminine aspect of herself, offer a fun workout, and be sustainable. As a belly dancer and yoga practitioner, she wasn’t finding satisfaction with either of these pursuits, nor could she find a fulfilling exercise outlet generally.
“I felt (the standard fitness industry) was really punitive and regimented and not really offering a lot of flow,” Bracegirdle explained, so she started developing a fitness system for women that incorporates the mind, body, and spirit with dance.
In a media world where the loudest messages are about looking and being a certain way, Bracegirdle is trying to counter this negative programming by weaving positive messaging into the classes.
“(We) fuse these ideas of positive body image, loving your body, (and) doing exercise because you love your body and want to care for it, not because you hate it and want to change it,” she said.
And that message is getting out there. Bellyfit is taking off with over 350 certified instructors offering courses all across Canada, in the USA, Europe and Japan.
Bellyfit offers a fusion of belly, Indian and African dance components with fitness, yoga and spiritual elements. Classes open with meditation, and move into cardio and core work, before the closing elements and final meditation.
Rita Williams practices Bellyfit in Rayleigh and agrees the experience goes beyond a physical workout to something more rewarding.
“I love the fact that there’s such an amazing blend of cultural influences involved in the development of the program (with) yoga, Pilates, plus East Indian and African dance rhythms,” she said. “It’s a great workout as well.”
Part of the fitness industry since 1989, Margery Corrigan has been an aerobics instructor, personal trainer and Pilates coach. Now she’s turned her interest to Bellyfit and teaches the Rayleigh classes. She’s seen a very positive turnout with participants ranging from girls in their late teens to women in their 60s.
“You can have fun, but you can feel this is a solid workout that’s been planned out to be as safe as possible for people,” Corrigan said of her interest in Bellyfit. “Yes, we have the cardio, yes we have the flexibility, yes we have the core exercises and the muscle toning, but there’s also that other part about our emotional and mental fitness. Involving a bit of meditation is starting to be pretty well recognized (as valuable) in a fitness and health program.”
Corrigan will be offering a Bellyfit session at the September 13 to 15 Women Only Weekend at Sun Peaks, and will begin her classes in Rayleigh again in September.
In the meantime and into the future, Bracegirdle is going strong with the system, and sees it taking off globally. She’s already fielding calls from women all across the world interested in Bellyfit.
“Someone described Bellyfit as being in the middle of Zumba and yoga, and I thought ‘You know what, that’s great. If you want to put me in between Zumba and yoga I’m happy to be there,’” Bracegirdle reflected.
It seems this is one fitness system that we’ll be seeing lots more of.