Music burst through the speakers as I wiggled my hips.
"You're doing great, ladies!" my instructor said.
I couldn't believe how exciting this was!
Before that night, I'd only ever seen belly dancing in movies.
In my wildest dreams I never thought I'd sign up to a class and shake my curves in public, but it seemed a fun way to get fit.
At 110kg, I was the largest in the studio but the other students were kind and welcoming.
"Belly dancing's for everyone," one said.
As I followed the instructor's moves, something inside me clicked.
Even though I felt awkward, the movements came naturally to me.
I couldn't stop grinning.
"Keep doing it if you enjoy it so much," he encouraged.
I started attending weekly classes and my confidence increased.
I used to look in the mirror and criticise every inch of my body. But belly dancing helped me admire the way my hips moved.
When I performed in the studio's annual concert in a bright blue bra and matching skirt, I kept tugging my bra up, embarrassed by the abundance of skin on display, but once I started dancing, my nerves faded.
Seven years later, my friend Karina and I decided to start our own belly dancing classes for kids.
At first, I was nervous we wouldn't get enough students, but we were overwhelmed with the number of people that signed up!
Now, we teach everyone, from tiny tots to the energetic elderly.
I've met so many people who were hesitant because they thought they were too old or large.
"If I can do it, anyone can!" I tell them.
Before long, they're shaking their hips and loving it, just like I did all those years ago.
I cringe when I think back to how cruel I was to myself but now I love the confident, energetic woman I've become – and that's all thanks to my beautiful belly!