The Faces Behind Happy Healthy Genki Day 2018

Despite snow still on the mountain tops, Winter is finally gone here in Fukushima! At times, it felt that the winter doldrums would never end here in the Lucky Island… However, Spring is here and Summer is right around the corner! To celebrate the changing seasons and get our bodies moving, our FuJET Minister of Fun, Kame, has organised the first ever Happy Healthy Genki Day event this Saturday, May 26th in Koriyama City.

The event will take place at Midorigaoka Community Center, and the day will consist of several workshops led by local ALTs including:

  • Zumba
  • Taekwondo
  • Kenjutsu,
  • Group Jogging
  • Yoga

All you need to bring to participate is a yoga mat, comfy clothes, water, snacks, and yourself. Even if you don’t consider yourself the genki-est of sorts, all fitness levels are welcomed and encouraged to join! The aim of the day is to get together, move our bodies in the beautiful spring sun, and have fun.

Zumba incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, and mambo dance moves.

Kame will be leading the Zumba class. Zumba, an exercise fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez, incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo into fun and calorie-burning routines. While Kame has lots of experience with dance, this will be her first time leading a Zumba class herself. Regarding the class, Kame said, ‘I have a ton of dance experience and have taken Zumba classes, but I’ve never actually taught a class before so this will be fun and beginner for all!’ Kame has been a member of dance teams throughout high school and university, and she worked as an instructor and dance choreographer for three years after graduation. She decided to lead a Zumba class over a hip hop class to try and welcome people of all dance backgrounds. ‘People tend to get anxious about (learning) dance steps, so Zumba is a fun alternative that I will do my best leading!’

The yoga portion of the day will be led by Inawashiro Town’s ALT, Jessie Valhalla. Jessie, a certified instructor of ashtanga and yin yoga, first started practising yoga after taking it for a university PE requirement- and she hasn’t stopped since.

A variety of Ashtanga yoga poses.

‘I love yoga because it’s a self serving practice that ultimately affects those around me. It’s a time to stop, breathe, and unite the body and mind in a society that creates little space to do that.’ When asked why she decided to help with Happy Healthy Genki day, she said ‘I hope to have fun moving my body with friends and that everyone gets an opportunity to try something new that they might not have tried otherwise.’ Our lives as teachers can often be stressful, always making sure that we help our fellow teachers and students any way that we can. Yoga can be a great way to help release this tension while helping our bodies and minds. When asked what advice she has for beginners and those new to yoga, Jessie offered up the following the advice that is great for both yoga and life in general: ‘Yoga is an individual practice. It’s easy to compare your practice to those around which can often be discouraging or even paralyzing to ones practice. It’s important to be kind and compassionate to your body. When I first started I couldn’t touch my toes and had no awareness of the mindfulness that can yoga can inspire. It’s a journey and it’s all good no matter where you’re starting from!’

Whether you’re interested in attending all of the workshops, or just one of them, everyone is welcome to join Happy Healthy Genki Day! From beginners to triathletes to everyone between, we hope to see you there this Saturday. And, as a reward for everyone’s hard work, a potluck style barbecue will be held afterwards. For the full schedule of workshops and times, along with a map to the park, please check out the official event page here.

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