Friday, October 15, 2010


Jazzercise is the Samoan equivalent of an aerobic dance class. A few weeks ago I began a health project in my village with the intention of raising awareness about diabetes and health disease and the determination to lower the risk of both diseases in the twenty women who joined my program. Joey, group 81, arranged the program with such detail that we each received practically a play-by-play book of what to teach during each lecture. I recruited my friend Vern to be my counterpart and together we recruited 20 overweight women to join our program.

Of course, no one showed up for our first meeting. So we tried again a few days later and had 12 women show up. At the first meeting we took basic measurements of height, weight, waist and hip circumference, and Joey came out to the sits to measure blood pressure. After a long morning we decided against jazzercise but promised the women an aerobic workout at the next meeting.

Meeting number two went even better than the first and although 5 women did not show up, we had 5 new women join the program, so our number hovered at 12. The session was lively and the women were really interested in all that we had to say. Finally we reached the exercise portion of the afternoon and the women jumped to life. Blasting Waka Waka, Vern and I led the women in a dance routine we had created the week before. For those reading this from back home, all those years of marching band paid off, and I was able to incorporate the very first marching band dance I ever learned into the Waka Waka chorus. Smith would be proud. And big thanks to Shaun for teaching me how to dance all those years ago!

Today was session number three and attendance was down to 11 women due to a conflict of time (apparently the village had declared 5pm Wednesday to be the weed removal day, so women were busy raking grass clippings into piles and burning them.) Talofai. However, the women that did show up were energized and many of them had dropped a kg or two since the first week, which was a real moral booster.

I led a light yoga warm-up to some Wyclef and then we got into the heavy dancing of Waka Waka. I brought over my water filter to serve water in between dances and the women got a kick out of the crazy palagi contraption I use for my water. They drank it with skepticism. We Waka Waka’ed for about 20 minutes and then went on to our new song, “Baby” by Justin Beiber. Unfortunately Vern and I both forgot the routine we had made, so that song will have to be properly re-introduced next week. We closed the session with another yoga cool down and we discussed exercise for the upcoming week. I encouraged the women to get out and play volleyball with the rest of the committee tomorrow, or go for a long walk in the late afternoon.

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