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Where empowerment lives: Finding body acceptance through movement

Copyrights: Bellyfit International/Alice Bracegirdle

Where empowerment lives: Finding body acceptance through movement

How can a unique fitness programme empower women? Alice Bracegirdle, CEO and co-founder of Bellyfit, explains.

A mix of yoga, belly dance and fitness, with a healthy dose of body positivity, Bellyfit is an exercise programme that provides “mindful workouts for the modern woman”, as Alice Bracegirdle explains:

"Essentially it’s a great physical workout, but I think a lot of women are waking up to the fact now that we can’t just care for our physical bodies,” she says. “We need to care for our entire being, and that’s what Bellyfit classes are intended to do.” 

The programme’s origins help explain why it resonates with women worldwide. “It was created out of a need that I had personally for myself. I was a single mom on welfare, dealing with some really hard times in my life.”

Bracegirdle describes how adopting physical activity transformed her own life and led to what is now Bellyfit. “I kind of created this way of moving that combined these three elements, fitness, dance and yoga, because I found that none of them on their own were really giving me what I needed.”

The programme has since taken off, with over 300 instructors and online courses now available internationally. The courses are open only to women, which has become a recent topic of discussion among instructors and participants. Bracegirdle stresses that this is not about excluding men: “Essentially what it comes down to is creating a safe, sacred space for women or people that identify as women.”

The female-centred environment creates an opportunity for women to connect with their bodies, which can at first prove difficult, especially when overcoming trauma. “As soon as you start to move the physical body, the energy and the emotion of whatever is in there starts to flow.” She goes on to explain that the resistance to participating that many women initially experience ultimately evolves to a place of healing. This body awareness represents “the place where empowerment lives”, according to Bracegirdle:

When we feel disempowered we tend to detach from our being. But the power is actually within us, so we need to turn in, we need to know ourselves more, we need to connect to our intuition and our receptivity and learn to just ‘be’, rather than always doing.

For her, defining empowerment comes easily: “I think so many women just feel oppressed. They feel like they don’t have power and control in this world that we’re living in. So for me empowerment is really just feeling that you’ve got this. You can do this.

Achieving this, however, can be a difficult journey. According to Bracegirdle, the first step is to embrace movement, in whatever form works for you. “For me the number one reason that I move my body is to feel happy. Women I think are naturally able to tap into these amazing feelings of joy, love and beauty. And so I think it’s partly our responsibility to cultivate it within ourselves, and share it out into the world. I would love to gift the world with that, if possible.”

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 09:47