Get Fit Belly Dancing

The ancient art of belly dancing is becoming part of gym classes from New York City to Omaha as more and more women realize this exotic dance can help trim their waistlines.

Veena and Neena Bidasha turned belly dancing into a best-selling franchise with their workout tape. Here are a few steps they demonstrated on The Early Show to lose weight and gain flexibility.

To warm up lower back and legs start, with drawing circles with your hips.

Continue with some shoulder rolls and lean back to give it a little attitude. These movements help develop core stability.

Next alternate knees back and forth.

It is believed this dance is at least 2,000 years old, with origins not only in the Middle East but Africa, India and neolithic Europe. It began as a dance by women for women, not to entice men but for fertility rituals and birthing ceremonies. Belly dancing is associated less with the art of conception and more with the movements of labor in birth. And belly dancing was originally performed with layers of colorful clothing, with no skin bared.

The English term "belly dance" was coined by an entertainment entrepreneur who brought Middle-Eastern dancers and musicians to perform at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. (It is said this is a translation from the French, who had been using this term since the 18th century). The result: outrage by the Victorian public, and a huge response. People flocked to the show, eager to see this exotic new dance, and they loved it.

The recent resurgence of belly dancing can be attributed to MTV and the singer/dancer Shakira, and even Britney Spears. Belly dancing is considered a great cardio workout that can strengthen muscles through isolation movements. It is low-impact, but you sweat. And the strength gained in your stomach and back muscles can help alleviate back pain, and help women avoid problems in the future.

Another side effect considered by some more important than the physical benefits, are the emotional benefits. Women feel more feminine as a result of belly dancing and more confident.

About Veena and Neena Bidasha

Though Veena always wanted to perform, Neena graduated from college with a degree in journalism and business. When they started performing together, they became so successful that they decided to do it full time. They have performed thousands of times, and appeared on numerous TV shows and private events in Los Angeles, like Brad Pitt's and Jennifer Aniston's wedding.

Veena and Neena's performances can include one or more of their 12 boa constrictors as well.