Fitness for the Heart – Creating Community while Cleaning Up


Last night, I swirled into the Thursday evening BollyFit class I instruct a few minutes later than I would have liked to arrive. My delay was due to making fresh Roti, a flat bread typically eaten in India, for my husband and children before leaving for class. But between art projects strewn all over the floor and cuddling with kittens they missed while at school all day, the kids didn’t want to come sit by the stove when dinner was ready. After hurriedly feeding them, I rushed out the door and swerved through the first snow fall of the year to the studio.



Upon arriving, I noticed a layer of grit on the floor but barely paid attention to it because I wanted to set up and start class on time. It just looked like scuff marks, which was annoying, but I didn’t want to hold up the class from starting any longer. Then, Nisha, one of our BollyFit instructors, walked in, and we started chatting about choreography for the class as she entered the walk in- closet in the studio and emerged with a huge mop. Continuing to nod at me, she moved toward the dirt and, without any words, started to clean. By then, it was time to start the class, and I asked her if she minded if I start so we didn’t have to keep everyone waiting. Without emotion she nodded, and I explained to the students that we could only use half of the studio that evening because of the grime on the floor.



As I thought more about what happened that evening, it struck me that we truly are a team – not only in BollyFit but also in Michigan as we collectively pick up the mop and clean up the economic mess that seems to be in our room. The good news is, we are not the mess. The space in the studio was still present after the dirt was cleaned up. And Michigan is still here, with a fresh perspective, as we collectively clean the economic house together. Of course, the U.S. is an immensely hyperbolic macrocosm – yes, we as a nation continue to clean up messes for and with each other. Regardless of who or what is the cause for any given mess, we share the space.



Even though the weather is colder and the first snowfall has already occurred, it suddenly feels a little warmer knowing that we all carry the mop for each other. Even though we might feel alone at times, we are here for each other and, collectively, we adjust to the situation in the space.



In reference to Nisha, woman who swept – she is a long-time BollyFit student, now a Guide for classes, and uses BollyFit as her work-out and weight-loss outlet.



Postscript: Thank you again, Nisha!


Shake Those Hips


Whether she is staying fit with BollyFit classes, enjoying fun moments with her sweet elementary school-age daughters, or illuminating her college students with English Literature, BollyFit student and guide Holly Poppink radiates a BollyFit when in doubt just shake it attitude.



This week, Holly bridged her roles as dancer and teacher when she taught her English Literature students this poem by African-American poet Lucille Clifton:



homage to my hips



these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips.
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.



Holly exclaimed to me and fellow BollyFit Guides, “I could only think of BollyFit when I taught this poem!”



Unfortunately, for many women, hips are usually disdained more than celebrated. “My hips are too big!” we wail. Within the psyches of men, I am guessing these strong swivel bones rarely even come up.  Although, especially in Indian dances, some men are confident enough to move their hips and look cool while doing it!



Pop star Shakira brought some smooth hip action to the music scene in her hit song, “Hips Don’t Lie”.

I love to see how something as simple as moving ones hips in BollyFit class can completely change a woman’s mood! Those who have never shaken their hips start to do so tentatively, and then a little sparkle shines from the eyes. With each additional shake, their confidence increases as does the movement. (The photo is of happy BollyFitters shaking it at a rehearsal for the 2011 BollyFit Flash Mob at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival!)



We literally and figuratively shed weight within and without, dropping it through the earth, when incorporating hip movement into our dances. It doesn’t happen in a high-pressured, “I want to get rid of these” way, but through release, joy, and enjoyable movement that leaves us leaner and healthier while having fun.



Inside Note from Holly: “From the classes I enjoy with BollyFit Belly Guide, Ziva, I love learning about belly-dancing being in preparation for childbirth- not for seductive dancing for the benefit of a male audience like many probably mistakenly believe!  I have certainly felt blessed by curvy hips following problem-free childbirth!”