Crime fighter to belly buster

Chloe Dent
Chloe Dent

SHE used to fight crime - now she fights the flab.

Chloe Dent spent five years at the coalface of Customs and Excise (C&E) tracking down international drug smugglers and investigating high level fraud.

But, despite spending years studying and training for the job, the 32-year-old decided to turn her back on a life of excitement - to teach bellydancing.

Miss Dent, of St Helens Road, made the decision after turning to bellydancing to tone up her muscles.

And, she says, it snowballed from there. “Like most women,” she told the Observer, “I was looking for a fun way to keep fit. I tried bellydancing and just fell in love with it.

“I realised the crime fighting was a job I had always wanted to do, but was not a passion in the same way bellydancing became. So, when I got offered the chance to start teaching it, I grabbed it with both hands.”

She upped-sticks from London and moved to Hastings, where she began teaching local women once a week at Silverdale School.

Now, three years after taking the plunge, she teaches beginners and intermediate classes to more than 40 women.

And she is quick to stress it is not just a pursuit for the svelte and skinny. “We have all shapes and sizes and our girls age from 16 to 65. You don’t have to get your belly out and we get to wear some brilliant outfits.”

Her new job is certainly a world away from the high-pressure world she left behind. While working at the C&E, Miss Dent acted as a first port of call for foreign customs teams and would liaise with police to allow smuggled drugs to reach their destination, before armed cops would swoop.

But, despite the adrenaline-fueled nature of her work, she says she has no regrets in leaving it behind for a more exotic life in 1066 Country - especially as she has just starred in a new fitness DVD.

“I have not looked back,” she said. “My last job was great and very exciting - but I love teaching bellydancing - I wouldn’t swop this job for the world.

“Sometimes it is hard to believe how much my life has changed.”

And, as a special treat for Observer readers, anyone who cuts out this article and takes it along to Silverdale School, in Perth Road, St Leonards on a Monday evening at 7pm will get a free taster lession.