Sports

Dance Their Way to a Fitter India

Aarti Pandey
Dance Their Way to a Fitter India

On a warm summer evening, I stood with a friend and his 4- year-old son to watch as a storm approached from the ocean. As we watched, the wind picked up and palm fronds waved wildly. My friend’s son looked up and asked: What causes wind? The question was not surprising. While “mom” and “dad” are considered the most commonly used words among early learners, any parent can tell you “why” is a close second. Children constantly ask: “Why?” No sooner is one “why” question answered than another is asked. In this sense, children are natural scientists. They begin talking about science and math even before entering preschool (Brenneman et al, 2009), and demonstrate an ability to observe, describe, compare, question, predict, experiment, reflect, and cooperate (Greenfield, 2009). A scientist always begins with a question and then uses observations to develop an answer to the question or a theory. My friend’s son had started with the question.

Child obesity is taking the shape of an epidemic. As per the latest reports, four out of every 10 school-going children in urban India are at a risk of being obese. The latest WHO (World Health Organisation) report projected that by 2025 India will have over 17 million obese children and stand second among 184 countries. Two-third of the children who are obese are most likely to be an obese adult. This is surely very important and critical for all of us to take massive and consistent actions now! We at Folk Fitness are committed to the mission of getting these projections to fail. We have created age appropriate, Indian folk dance-based fitness curriculum for schools called “NANHE” which is delivered by our certified folk fitness professionals. We are recognised by Limca Book of Records as first fitness routine including 122 registered Indian folk dances. Other than our core mission of building a fitter younger generation, our Indian folk-based approach provides us an opportunity to revive the dying art form with Folk musicians and singers creating melodious tracks on which thousands of kids dance their way to fitness.

Movement on Music

We believe dance-based fitness programmes are the most effective for early childhood development. The advantages of a dance based fitness curriculum are

a) Movement on music is appealing to children, thus its motivational effect to practise

b) It moderates the effects of accumulated stress arising from other school lessons

c) Movement on music has a strong emotional effect, helping children experience many emotions like enthusiasm, joy, euphoria etc.

d) Mirroring the trainer in the class and coordinating the steps with other kids builds socialising, discipline, co-operation and coworking

e) Regular practice also helps children to develop and intensify music abilities like music pitch, rhythm, memory and co-ordination abilities.

Fitness in Folk “Folk dance on music” is an Indian way to celebrate life. It has functional exercise for every muscle group and every Indian relates to it naturally without any concerns of the lyrics not being appropriate for kids. More than 1000 folk and tribal dances of India provide great variety and flavour. Every folk dance has a story to tell, a reason for their existence and the steps are majorly influenced by their profession and their geographical areas. For example, a Punjabi folk dance will be influenced by the landscape, which is absolutely flat and will involve a lot of jumping and free movement, which makes some of those steps perfect for cardiovascular activity. The Koli dance from Maharashtra would be done to the beats of a beach song as this style is connected to fishermen which involves lot of pulling movements engaging the upper body. The Bihu dance of Assam is done with soft movements engaging the core muscles.

“NANHE” way to Holistic Development The design of the “NANHE” curriculum is such that each 35-minute class is focussed on holistic development of the child. A low intensity programme based on "HIIT" (High Intensity Interval Training) elements enables the children to utilise and channelise their energy in a positive way. The use of smaller muscle groups like fingers and wrists enhances fine motor skills and movements for bigger muscle groups like arms and legs which in turn help in the development of gross motor skills. A repetitive approach increases memory and the variation in choreography helps in agility and strength. Cardio movements are used as energy busters to challenge the heart to reach the THR - Target Heart Rate, this helps highly energetic children to release the energy in a positive way. Each warm up and cool down session includes meditation and the NANHE pledge which helps children to be more relaxed, focused and responsible for their own well-being. The soothing music during cool down and stretching sections have therapeutic values. The routine is accredited by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America, National Academy of Sports Medicine and Fitness and Sports Sciences Association. Children also become more aware of Indian cultural through interesting stories and Folk Fitness animated characters – Sher Singh, Champion Champak and Chotta Chetak. Parents are engaged through weekly home assignments with online content access to practice and celebrate with the child. Children also perform the learnt Folk Fitness routines to demonstrate and celebrate holistic development.

 

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