Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stepping it up in Women’s Exercise

All five of us female PD’s came into this year excited about the Women’s Exercise program. We all came from a background in various types of group exercise and athletics, and were eager to put our personal touches on the classes that Manna offers. It was a little disappointing at first to see the low levels of attendance in our first classes, but it motivated us to get advertising, fine-tune our classes, and start talking to the women in the community to find out what they wanted from a work-out class. We learned quickly that the women want to dance, and they are concerned about their abs, so we have been creatively incorporating both into all of our classes.

A heartwarming moment for me was when Dayana, a 10 year old who attended our summer camp and frequents the library, asked if she could come to women’s exercise because yoga helps her relieve stress. I personally started taking aerobic kickboxing classes with my mom and sister when I was her age, and by far the youngest woman in the class. It was awesome to see her proudly take her place in the front of the room as she bravely tested out each of the classes that her busy schedule allows.

The newest and biggest change we will be implementing this year is a step aerobic class, to be taught by Emily on Friday mornings. The women were very excited about the idea, so all we needed were the steps. After walking to the gym down the street to check out models, watching various Youtube videos on how to make steps, and pricing wood at a nearby hardware store, we were ready to get started. The process didn’t turn out to be all that hard, and we managed to make the first 6 steps for free! We used wood and nails we found around the house, got the wood cut for free by some nice gentleman down the street, and had the steps transported to the Centro by our favorite vecino, Ceasar.

The next step for the program, and something we are all anxious for, will be mounting mirrors on the wall of the exercise room. The room occupies a large open space on the top floor of our Centro, with racks of exercise balls and floor mats, and windows overlooking the mountains. It is a fantastic space and perfect for giving classes, but it lacks mirrors, which are fundamental for checking form and accurately following routines. We are currently working hard contacting gyms and athletic stores in the U.S. trying to get money donated so we can have mirrors installed. In the meantime we’ll continue working to improve our workout classes and get more community members interested in their personal health and fitness.

Building steps
The finished product
Testing it out

1 comment:

Serena said...

wow this is awesome guys! I remember when we first started the women's exercise program in oct 2008 - it was piloted at the Tena church and then we moved our location at least 3x before the teen center/library space was opened the following spring. I can totally understand the frustrations that go along with it but it's amazing to see the program progress. the women are incredible and make all the work worthwhile. We've always wanted to put together some aerobics steps and mirrors so it is so awesome to see you guys turning this into reality. keep up the good work!

Serena (2008-09 alumni)