Billy Blanks has arrived in Nablus

Like the yells of a drillmaster in boot camp, every Monday and Wednesday mornings, the sounds of "1, 2, 3, 4! One more set! Kick, kick, kick, kick!" can be heard wafting through the hallways of TYO. Through the cathartic release of jump kicks and cross punches, Tae Bo has taken the TYO aerobics program by storm. Having had a long, and generally favorable (if you disregard an Advanced Step Aerobics class which left me unable to walk up stairs for a week) history with various Aerobics classes, I was thrilled to finally get the chance to take the lead with my co-teacher Samin in a class of our own. Drawing from experience with the Aerobics greats (Elle Macpherson, Richard Simmons, my own high school mentor - shout out to Ms. Loftus!), I finally decided to draw from the ultimate Tae Bo master, Billy Blanks.

In our strictly women-only Fitness class, Samin and I are gradually getting to know these fabulous mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. While at first I wondered how well they would take to the kick-punch combos, it turns out our students took to this kind of cardio immediately. By the end of the first class we already had requests for more exercises to focus on different parts of the body. I was equally pleased when, in the promoting healthy habits portion of our class, the majority of our students took up our water challenge and finished 2 litres of water in a day. What we take for granted in the awkward Health classes of middle school is not necessarily common knowledge here, so each class is a test in discussing the norms of their lifestyle and breaking down common misconceptions.

The first fifteen minutes of each class has also been a new experience for us. The mood in the room noticeably elevates as the women strip off their outerwear and begin the daily routine of gossip and catching-up. This is a side that we, as internationals, rarely get to see of Nabulsi women, so it came as a pleasant surprise to find that we were now included in this private world. I hope that as the summer progresses that we will continue to learn more from each other. Hopefully, we can find the common ground of a healthier lifestyle together. And, of course, a better side kick too.

- Alex

Alex is a summer intern at TYO Nablus.