- Written by Written by Queen Munguti for Kenyakidz
A dance fitness regime, Kuruka! Kids, is determined to help Kenyan children become physically fit at a time when 25.6 per cent of school-aged going children in Nairobi are obese, according to a study by Kenyatta University on the Prevalence and Risk Factors for Obesity among school aged children in Nairobi.
Kuruka! inventor, who is called Chiki, says the dance fitness regime helps build children’s stamina and improves heart performance and the lung capacity.
“In the dance class we work on children’s core skills, their creative skills, team work and performance skills,” she said.
“Dance is great for children because physically healthy children perform significantly better at school as it helps them develop cognitively and develop their concentration skills.”
A study published in the Health Psychology journal titled Exercise improves executive function and achievement and alters brain activation in overweight children supports Chiki’s remarks. The researchers, who carried out the study in Georgia, found that exercise improved school going children’s results in mathematics tests.
They invited 111 inactive, overweight kids, age 7 to 11, to participate in an after-school exercise program, during which they were active for at least 20 minutes. Another 60 kids, also overweight, were invited but they did not participate in any exercise.
After 13 weeks, the kids in the exercise program performed better than those who did not participate on tests of mental tasks such as planning, organizing and strategizing, as well as on standardized math tests.
Additionally, Chiki says physically healthy children are less likely to get sick, and will maintain their physical health into adulthood.
“It also helps in their social development skills. Every three months, the KuruKa! Kids put up a show for family and friends.”
The program is not just for children; adults also have the chance to take part in the dance fitness regime.
“KuruKa! Dance Fitness is a high intensive work out that combines body shocking (vigorous cardio work outs) with dance and body conditioning,” said Chiki. “It is, therefore, an ideal program for those looking to shake off the extra weight, literally.”
Kuruka! Fitness was started five months ago by Chiki, who was inspired by her love for dance fitness. “I have taught dance fitness for many years and I am so passionate about encouraging people to see fitness as a fun life necessity rather than a tiresome activity.”
For her dance classes, she prefers using the Afro Beat to guide the session and especially the East African pop music.
“Kuruka! fitness is different from other dance fitness regimes because we support fitness first rather than the brand. We do not make blanket statements and our level of intensity is what endears us to our clients,” she said.
“We don't ever want anyone to dread attending class because of the intensity so we keep the class fun at its core but impactful at the same time.”
A report by the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute stated that using dancing as a work out regime can serve as a great form of aerobic exercise because it provides cardiovascular conditioning helping to lower the risk of coronary heart disease, decrease blood pressure, and also aid in weight management efforts. It is a weight-bearing activity, which can improve bone density, muscle strength, coordination and balance.
In a class, one can burn as many as 800 to 1000 calories but only if they have put in maximum effort.
“At Kuruka! fitness, we do not believe in quick fixes, we believe in people seeing fitness as a part of everyday life. So, if you take the class seriously, you will see the effort pay off, ” she said.
“You also have to maintain a healthy eating and balanced lifestyle.”
Chiki advises that people should stop focusing on aesthetic preferences and instead embrace health and fitness into their lives in order to prevent weight fluctuations.
“Weight is such a small indicator of health, people do not realise skin, hair, nails and their mood are also health indicators. So, at Kuruka! Fitness, we instead try and change people’s thinking to health based thoughts which last forever.”
Apart from children, Chiki also trains rugby teams, music groups, elderly ladies, a group of Muslim housewives, cancer survivors. She is also the official trainer for the ladies in popular weight loss TV show Slimpossible.
Other than exercise, KuruKa! Fitness also offers yoga/stretch classes.