ew people care more about the health of South Africans than dancer, singer, choreographer, businesswoman and actress Khabonina Qubeka. On the morning I meet her, she is hosting her fourth annual Dance to Fitness Indaba Breakfast at the Bel Air Shopping Centre in North Riding, where women of all ages and fitness levels have been invited to come and dance their way to health.
She says: “I want to host a Dance For Fitness in every city, and do it in the month of August for women all over the country.” Qubeka says she loves hosting dance and fitness events for all people, but in particular women: “It’s always so nice to see women moving and enjoying themselves. Because when we dance, we are doing what we are born to do.” For Qubeka, fitness is more than just about gym – she is big on just getting people to move.
“People are always surprised when they meet me and find I am not a big gym bunny. Because my thing is movement, not just exercise.”
Earlier this year, she released a new song with a funky exercise video called Shake Your Booty, which challenged men and women to get moving. The runner, yogi and dancer says: “Being healthy and fit is never about how big you are. Our bodies were meant to move, and we get unfit and unhealthy because we stop moving and stop looking after ourselves. Your body is your biggest project, and it’s all your own doing. And what makes me sad is that so many of our illnesses and ailments are lifestyle related: diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, all of these things are preventable, but they are killing our people.”
Qubeka says that there are three main reasons South Africans are so unhealthy. “The first is that health and wellness has been thought to be less important than other pressing concerns. Other parts of the world have recognised the importance of health and wellness for a society, and have made it a priority. However, here, looking after your body is still seen as a luxury, or only for aboNgamla [white people] who can afford to worry about those things. That has a lot to do with how health and fitness has been marketed.
“Secondly, exercising is sold as being possible only through a gym, and with wearing fancy clothes, and for certain body types.
“Which brings me to the third reason we are so unhealthy: healthy food is positioned as ‘larney’, and something you need money to afford. We grow up thinking healthy foods are things many of us can’t afford. But also, more than that, we take in a lot of sugar and salt, often without realising it. How many of us grew up eating butternut with butter
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