BU Today


Belly dancing rules at FitRec

Summer course promises full body workout

Performers from The Goddess Dancing, whose members teach at BU.

This summer at the FitRec Center, students and staff are shimmying away a semester’s worth of worries.

Throughout the summer, FitRec offers its standard array of sports and fitness classes, which include swimming, cycling, aerobics, and rock climbing, as well as some more seasonal or unusual offerings — such as belly dancing. The course, offered during both summer terms, has proved to be so popular that it had to be moved to another, larger location within the center.

“It really is a wonderful workout, in terms of the full body,” says instructor Karen Uminski, who besides teaching also performs with the troupe The Goddess Dancing. “You get a lot of isometric exercise by working the core muscles, and you tone and gain a lot of flexibility.”

Close to 30 people — all women, Uminski says, although men are welcome — are in the class, which began on Wednesday, May 24. The four-week course focuses on mastering the basic stance and learning about the five “sacred shapes”: the circle, the crescent, the figure eight, the shimmy, and the undulation. In addition, Uminski says, she tries to impart some of the body-awareness and acceptance themes of belly dancing. “It usually takes a little more than four or five weeks to get over the negative body message we get in our society,” she says, “but belly dance, I think, is the best antidote for that.”

Uminski, who performs under the name Kareema, has been belly dancing for 14 years. She was intrigued by a form of exercise that had “wonderfully exotic music” and “fun costumes,” she says. “Personally, belly dance grabbed me because all of those things kept my mind as occupied as my body.”

Students make up about a quarter of FitRec’s summer program participants — others are alumni, University employees, and members of the general public with an interest in a particular class. A basic membership is free for students, and course fees vary depending on membership and affiliation with the University.

A full list of summer term classes is available at the FitRec Web site.