Innocent Choga Fitness
“If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it . . . “
In frustration smitten Orsino said this with the hope that excess music might be the cure for his obsession for love of the rejecting Countess Olivia in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (1602), implying that music has healing powers. What would the gyms be like without good sound systems and good music? What would aerobic exercise sessions be like without good music? Would an early morning running session be enjoyable without good music?
Universally, music has a magic effect on many facets of our lives. There is music for all occasions; happy songs that make us cheerful; sad songs that bring back to mind sad memories; ballads that brings us closer to our partners; soothing melodies that help rehabilitate the sick; raunchy music makes us feel like doing some dirty dances; decent and spiritual music that puts us in reverencing moods; upbeat and motivating music that makes us feel like exercising and helps athletes perform to their maximum level.
The human body is meant to move and naturally the sound of music makes the bones feel like moving to the rhythm. Studies have shown that rhythm and sound improve the physical function by stimulating the brain to create more endorphins.
These are hormones that promote our well being by making us feel relaxed and energetic. Music can divert an exerciser away from feelings of fatigue and blunt the pain.
Appropriate music just like the cheering crowds at sports events helps to arouse strong emotions and acts as energizers. Inappropriate music, like boos, will achieve the opposite.
Depending on the sporting discipline, athletes can use music before or during performance to assist the increase in arousal levels.
Arousal relates to elevated mood states, an increase positive thoughts, body temperature, heart rate and rate of breathing. This helps to warm up and prepare the body for athletic performance.
Music is also used in creative therapy for improving coordination and correcting the pattern of movement of limbs of patients with Parkinson’s disease or those recovering from stroke.
Wind instruments like saxophones are used to improve lung function. Dance therapy is used in eurhythmy; a movement art designed to assist the body’s healing process. Music and dance therapy serve as exercise and as means of self-expression.
During aerobic sessions participants rely on the instructors’ choice of music. It is important that the instructors be aware of the participants’ wishes .Bad music distracts and makes participants lose focus. Participants prefer familiar songs that they can sing along to, as this motivates them to work harder. Instructors are also encouraged to renew their music play lists.
Overplaying music becomes monotonous and exercisers will end up losing interest in the sessions. The music playlist does not have to contain the latest tunes only. Some instructors are said to even play Mozart and Beethoven. Experts say music is just as important as the choreography. Actually, the music should determine the choreography and the pace. When the participants feel the music they are able to push themselves more as powerful tunes inspire exercisers/athletes.
For those who find the gym classes boring, freestyle dancing is a good way of keeping fit. Dancing does not require experience, style or technique. It is fun and it is a safe aerobic workout. Even those who are not fit will soon be able to engage into energetic high impact dances.
In some countries ball room dancing is said to be gaining popularity with the youth who cherish dancing together as couples rather than dancing apart. The act of waltzing together on a crowded floor is said to instill a sense of confidence, add poise and increase the desire to look better in couples.
Experts say ball room dancing provides a good fitness workout and keeps the spirits high. However, dance teachers are said to be teaching all types of dances; such as high energy dances, the foxtrot (similar to walking) and the freestyle (without a partner).
In Zimbabwe our traditional dances are high impact and high energy dances. Talk about ngororombe, jerusarema and some Ndebele dances where the whole body is moved with great intensity. Very few of these dancers are overweight.
Even watching some of those who are on the heavy side move on the dance floor, one would think their bulk is due to an accumulation of feathers.
Musicians/dancers exercise a lot and enjoy the benefits of both therapeutic effects of singing and dancing. A good example is brother Macheso and his nimble footed dancers, Orchestra Mberikwazvo.
These guys are fit. These dancers have a serious work rate on stage. Considering all those fast whole body movements that they practice and perform on stage they will never gain excess weight.
Who can say brother Tuku does not exercise? What with all those moves he executes on stage? We saw him bring the house down at the Morgan Heritage show late last year. He is still very active on stage.
He is agile and has balance; some of the fitness attributes that we gain from dancing. This is evident, for example, when he does one of his popular dance moves, where he jumps and lands on both feet, hits some staggering moves to one side with one foot leading, snaps back to the starting position, jumps again then staggers to the other side, stands upright again, puts his hands on the hips and chants “Iwe !!! , une kuwara”.
This unique dance of his is an inimitable aerobic exercise.
Musicians are aerobics instructors that can have thousands of clients in one session, depending on the power of their music.
Music and dance helps people to ease pain and achieve a sense of well being naturally without the use of medication. Music and dance are also engaged as a way of dealing with stress. It can be it lively upbeat music that energises the body and works the cardiovascular system, or soft melodies that soothes the mind.
Since dancing is mostly aerobic, there is nothing wrong with musicians engaging in other forms of exercise like anaerobic exercises to enhance their performance and physical stage presence. This can be done to avoid adapting to the same way of exercise and as a way of self improvement and development.
For dancing to be highly effective and classified as exercise it has to be done frequently; so if it is not your profession you might have to do it at the gym or at home as well. Email:[email protected]
Innocent Choga is a six time National Bodybuilding Champion with international experience. He is studying for a science degree in Physical Education and Sport