Fit­ness classes with a Bol­ly­wood twist prove pop­u­lar

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

A free healthy life­style ini­tia­tive with a Bol­ly­wood twist is mak­ing an im­pact in the In­dian com­mu­nity but needs fund­ing to stay afloat.

Med­i­cal stu­dent Jig­nal Bhag­van­das and phys­io­ther­a­pist Kri­tika Satija cre­ated the Ar­o­gya Mantra free health and fit­ness classes to help im­prove the life­styles of South Asian adults in Auck­land.

They were shocked by the high rate of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and di­a­betes within the In­dian com­mu­nity.

Poor diet and a lack of ex­er­cise are con­tribut­ing fac­tors, Ms Satija says.

‘‘The two leading causes of po­ten­tially avoid­able mor­tal­ity in In­di­ans are car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and di­a­betes,’’ the 23-year-old says.

‘‘Health pro­fes­sion­als are also see­ing more and more young South Asian pa­tients in Auck­land de­vel­op­ing these con­di­tions. These sta­tis­tics are wor­ry­ing for our pop­u­la­tion.’’

A five-week


pro- gramme ran in San­dring­ham last year.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers are at­tracted by the dance and pi­lates classes for adults set to Bol­ly­wood mu­sic, health pro­fes­sion­als who can of­fer ad­vice with­out com­ing up against lan­guage bar­ri­ers and fort­nightly speak­ers.

It was such a suc­cess that the num­ber of people turn­ing up far ex­ceeded the ca­pac­ity of the small hall they were us­ing and they were forced to turn people away. This year they will op­er­ate the ser­vice from the Block­house Bay Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

The group des­per­ately wants to keep it free but the cost of hall hire and lack of spon­sors means it has had to start charg­ing a gold coin do­na­tion. Ms Satija has had to stump up some of this year’s costs her­self.

They now have a larger team of vol­un­teers com­pris­ing of reg­is­tered nurses, di­eti­cians, GPs, clin­i­cal hyp­nother­a­pists, phar­macy and med­i­cal stu­dents.

Ms Bhag­van­das says the med­i­cal knowl­edge and cul­tural back­ground of the vol­un­teers is what sets them apart from a typ­i­cal fit­ness pro­gramme.

‘‘Be­cause we know more than a reg­u­lar in­struc­tor we can mod­ify ex­er­cises if some­one has back pain for ex­am­ple,’’ the 21-year-old says. ‘‘ We also have a cul­tural kick to our classes. Some South Asians are quite con­ser­va­tive and they don’t al­ways feel com­fort­able at a gym but here it’s like a sup­port group.’’

If you can help out with fund­ing call 0210 697 007.

Search for Ar­o­gya Mantra – Just for the health of it on Face­book.


Health mis­sion: From left: Jig­nal Bhag­van­das, Ashna Me­d­ina Si­raj and Kri­tika Satija, run non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Ar­o­gya Mantra which of­fers free health and fit­ness classes weekly for South Asian adults in Block­house Bay.

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