Health is a hip and a hop away
By: Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit   From: Philippine STAR
[May 6, 2008]

Summer is a great time to get kids active!

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) identified 10 great activities for kids. The leading fitness organization advises parents to guide their children to a sport they enjoy, to teach them to focus on fun more than winning. They should also be taught how to warm up properly and stretch before an activity. These activities include soccer, martial arts, bike riding, swimming, basketball, obstacle courses (park, playground or make-shift with jump ropes, balls, and cones), surf or skate boarding, jumping rope, ice or inline skating and of course, dancing!

If you are game enough, you can even attempt joining your kids in a hip-hop class and enjoy it. That is exactly what I and my female friends (all above forty) did one afternoon with our kids. We not only enjoyed it, we were surprised that hip hop can really be a good exercise for all body parts! No wonder it is a very popular class in gyms.

ACE liaison in the Philippines Earl Jimenez shares, ďMuch of the crowd in hip-hop classes are the gen-Xrs who are naturally inclined to this class because itís something they see in popular culture ó music videos, concerts, etc. The movements may seem complicated but are actually easy to follow, making everyone actually feel like theyíre really dancing and not just exercising. And for people who are tired of the usual group exercise classes, hip-hop is a way out of boredom that not only gets them fit but also gets them dancing to movements that encourage the body and the mind to simply loosen up and let go. Part of the appeal is also in the music, with its strong beats and uncomplicated rhythm, which guides participants into the movements effortlessly. Even first-timers or the middle-age crowd who arenít used to the movements, can get along fine just bobbing to the music and yet still reap its fitness benefits.Ē

Benefits abound, he adds, ďIt may not score high in cardiovascular endurance in terms of intensity level; but hip-hop, especially when done with little rest in between step combinations, is enough moderate-intensity workout for most. More importantly, most of the movements isolate joints, thereby working on specific muscle groups. Repetitive flexion of the trunk and pelvis tones the mid-section and the core muscles, quick squats and hip flexions work the lower body. When these movements are combined and added with arms movements, they become dynamic multi-joint exercises that challenge the body to move in perfect synchronization as a single-unit. The result is a workout that not only burns calories but trains the body to develop kinesthetic awareness as well.Ē

To make summer extra interesting maybe the kids would enjoy the classes more when taught by kuyas (older brothers) from the famous television reality show Pinoy Big Brother on ABS-CBN where both were strong runners-up of the show. I am referring to John Prats and Mickey Perz who are both teaching hip-hop classes this summer. The two great dancers take time to share their hip-hop insights:

PHILIPPINE STAR : When and how did you discover your talent for dancing?

JOHN PRATS: I started dancing when I was eight years old, for Ang TV since we had a group named Kidlots. It was Mr. Mís (ABS-CBNíS Johnny Manahanís) idea and he had us train with some of the pro choreographers of known dance groups like Streetboys.

MICKEY PERZ: As a kid, I was never really interested in dancing, but then my mom and her friends started a charity group and they had parties to raise funds. They decided then that I should dance with my other friends, so I found my passion for dancing. EL PALM (charity group) and Backstreet Boys were the reason I started to dance.

How often do you dance?

JOHN: I donít dance every day. Thrice a week, I think.

MICKEY: I dance every day. Mostly at home, I just let the music play and I start to dance.

Would you consider this as your form of exercise?

JOHN: Yes. I play basketball, too, sometimes whenever I donít have work.

MICKEY: Yes, I consider that as exercise because while dancing, your whole body is moving and you also sweat a lot.

What other exercises do you need to complement your dancing?

JOHN: Basketball keeps me fit. I also do cardio for my stamina so that I wonít get tired easily whenever I perform. I take dance classes abroad to be able to share my experiences, talent, and knowledge with everyone in the Philippines, thatís why it led me to offer dance classes this summer.

MICKEY: I stretch a lot to stay flexible and I do sit-ups and push-ups.

Is enough sleep important?

JOHN: Not really, with my work, rarely do I get eight hours of sleep.

MICKEY: It depends on the person, but I would recommend it because if you donít sleep a lot, the possibility of an injury is higher.

How about diet?

JOHN: It is very important because if I gain too much weight I feel heavy and I donít get to dance properly.

MICKEY: I donít really diet. I eat everything but just in moderation.

Why do you want to teach kids how to dance?

JOHN: I want not only kids but everyone to realize that dancing is fun! I would like to inspire them also to love dancing.

MICKEY: Kids are hyper and they need to let it out thatís why I want to teach kids because they are motivated and they have a lot of fun while dancing and they pick up very fast.

What particular dance skills do you want to impart to them?

JOHN: There are a lot of genres, but I have my own style, emo hip-hop. Whenever I choreograph a dance, I base it on the lyrics, and I show emotions while dancing.

MICKEY: I would teach them hip-hop because that is my strength. I would teach them basic steps and I would teach them different styles of hip-hop dancing, from lyrical to house to crump.

We heard that you are really a dedicated and passionate teacher with a lot of patience. Is that true? What inspires you to teach?

JOHN: I just love to teach. I always keep in mind the studentsí efforts and their willingness to learn thatís why as their teacher, I always have to give my 100 percent.

MICKEY: As a teacher you have to have patience because they are learning from you, but what drives me are the studentsí motivation and the smile after the class if they were able to pick up the choreography and they are proud that they did it.

Instructions from celebrities ďDance Floor DynamiteĒ John Prats and ďHip Hop KingĒ Mickey Perz (winner of several dancing competitions in Switzerland) would make an interesting class that would roll entertainment, dance lessons, and inspiration into a neat summer package.

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