women's exercise

Shaking things up in Women's Exercise

Three out of four of the women living in the Manna house are involved in the women's exercise program, which continues to run six different classes five days a week.  With an update on some changes that have been underway in this ever-popular program, here's Ashley!

Time is zooming by and things are changing upstairs in women’s exercise. All of our classes are getting revamped - new kicks and punches for tae bo, challenging stretching and flexing for pilates, exciting dance moves for zumba, creative steps for weights, and fresh combinations for yoga. But the class that has been upgraded the most is our circuits class, which has recently been transformed entirely.

In addition to using new exercises for the individual stations, we have altered the music (and the way of telling when to change stations). Initially, we would play 45 seconds of a song, and then 15 seconds of another one for the station change. It was somewhat confusing, and women who had not attended classes often needed our prompting to know when to switch. Now, we have a new system: the same song continues to play until it’s over, and gets quiet when Noel’s voice says “¡Cambie!” indicating that it’s time to change! The women loved it and said that it was so much easier to figure out!

In addition, we’ve added a more interactive aspect to the circuits class. We used to go through the sets of circuits 4 times during one class, but we’ve now added a group cardio section for 15 minutes in the middle of class. It allows us to all do something together, and of course, sweat a lot. Noel, Becky, and I even have a hard time making it through those 15 minutes, as we try to push ourselves to doing a variety of really intense cardio activities!

Zumba has also gotten a change, even if it’s just of an instructor. I have recently started teaching Zumba classes every other week. To start with, it was just nerve-wracking, as I am not a particularly skilled dancer, but has ended up being a blast for all of us. It’s another intense cardio workout to add to our plethora of classes, and everyone loves a workout that makes you sweat and is so much fun! 

Fool proof way to burn off a Magnum bar

This week's guest blog comes from Haley Booe about an exceptional group of women involved in our exercise program. We had 9 of these women over for dinner a few weeks back. Everything went very smoothly, save running out of gas, forcing Mike to run around the valley in his basketball shorts to find a new one and me to cook broccoli in the microwave. Overall, it was a pleasure having them over to learn more about their lives and enjoy some Italian food!

"Hello blogging world! I hope you enjoy this wonderful time of the year when the school year comes to a close and kids are shrieking at the sound of ice cream trucks. I am definitely one to scream for ice cream, especially considering ours are pick-up trucks installed with soft-serve machines. Aside from eating my weight in ice cream sandwiches, there are a couple of other things that I’m passionately excited about. Over the past 10 months, I have developed a deep love for spandex, techno music, and sweaty women. Any member of the Manna Household will attest to how attached I am to the women in our community and how much I LOVE exercise.

The W.E. program has changed a lot since last August. We hold class in our own space, which has increased women's involvement in the center as they drop off their kids in the library; this has encouraged them to join other programs like cooking class and enrolling kids in Englihs. The women have developed relationships amongst themselves through socializing before and after class; they often meet up outside of class and continuously encourage each other in pursuit of healthier lifestyles.

We now offer 4 clases a week: Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi on Mondays, Tae Bo on Tuesdays, A mixed class on Wednesday mornings, and Aerobic circuit training on Thursdays. Many of the women attending class come every day; there are several who have missed no more than 5 classes in the last 6 months! I've really been able to develop relationships with these women and it is so encouraging to hear how much they appreciate what Manna is doing in their communities.

Exercise women + the 7 MPIE women = lots of estrogen in the Manna House

During spring break program rotations, volunteers helped me plan class for the day and completed various tasks including several improvements to our classroom. To name a few, the room is now a pale blue (which is very relaxing during Yoga), inspirational posters are hanging on the walls, circuit class 'stations' are well labeled, and a newly painted bookshelf now holds all of our equipment. Volunteers also helped plan a workshop to train the women to be fitness instructors. After the women complete the course this summer, they will assist or substitute for me and eventually be able to lead the class themselves; this is one exciting step closer to making exercise more sustainable in the long term!

This program relies on inscription money to pay for advertising, informational packets, and attendance prizes (including t-shirts, cookbooks, and yoga mats). In the past month, we've made some capital investments to improve our classes' effectiveness. The wonderfully handsome David Lawler brough down hand weights, exercise balls, and yoga mats for the women to use in class.

Dave and Haley enjoying some down time at the beach

Since we used most of our budget to buy this equipment, we don't have as much to spend on other costs. The women in our community enjoy this program so much and we appreciate any donations you can give to make Women's Exercise successful! If you would like to help financially support this program or would like more information, please e-mail me!

Peace, love and sweatbands!


Just a Typical Tuesday

Quarterly reports are due Thursday! Get your metrics to Chet! Doctor shadowing starts tomorrow! Wait, are we already talking about Spring Break groups? Shoot, I still have to write a blog post! And oh wait... and tomorrow's English/art lesson has to be planned... So much to do. So little time. Excuses, excuses - right? Things are kind of crazy around here this week... so here's a visual tour of our day. Just a typical Tuesday in the Manna world.

Rain three days in a row and a power outage at the house... looks like the rainy season has begun. The view from the balcony of the library. And yes, those are cows in the middle of the road.

La Wendi takes art class and her winter hat accessory very seriously

Selena gets creative during art class. Today was "Free Art Day" in class, which means the kids could make whatever they wanted.

Profes Chet and Dana get into the "Free Art Day" fun, too.

Profe Chet's final masterpiece...
I was expecting a unicorn, but was pleasantly surprised by the dragon motif.
Medium: old dried coffee beans. I think Picasso would be jealous.

The kids' final art projects... complete with colored cheesy poofs?

Haley (center) leads Women's Exercise class, with the help of Sarah and Jackie.
(Our job is to count to 8 in Spanish over and over... and over again.)

Twelve women (and one dog...) came to class tonight!

Haley, Jackie, Krysta and Sarah wrap up the day by being PHENOMENALLY (ha.) productive in the office... we love Quarterly Reports! :)

And that, my friends, is a small glimpse into a typical Tuesday in Manna Ecuador life. Thanks for checking in!

Hasta Jueves,

Balancing Act

Today's guest blog comes from Miss Haley Booe (pronounced like boo, not booey). Haley hails from North Carolina and the hookie-infested Virginia Tech University. She's well known around here for being a Tai Chi enthusiast, enjoying toast, introducing us to Step Up (1 and 2), and having a huge supportive heart. For example if you check out the group Women's Exercise picture below you can catch a glimpse of one of her motivational signs that reads 'believe in yourself, you can do it!'

"Life in the Manna House, as you might have already guessed, is a bit like a circus. It may be due to the fact that once a week there is food in someone’s hair by the end of dinner, but recently, I’m convinced it’s because many of us have been perfecting a balancing act in regard to programs.

My time in Ecuador thus far has been concentrated on the Women’s Exercise program. Recently, we moved locations to the third floor of the library. This was an exciting move for us, because now we have our own space and a chance to further network within the library community. On the other hand, we’ve also been having a difficult time with attendance, and trying to figure out how to boost our numbers. One culprit could be the Ecuadorian fear that all foreigners have swine flu. And since my pale (almost translucent at this point) skin and light hair scream “Gringa,” people might be running in the opposite direction for that reason. As plausible as that theory sounds, I think it’s more likely caused by the fact that the past two months have been a transition period, both in the Manna House and in our Ecuadorian communities. Many people spend August and early September soaking up the last days of summer by taking family vacations and are busy doing what us Spanglish-speaking gringos call matriculando-ing (Spanglish for “matricular” or registering for school). Now that school is back in session, and that we’ve made phone calls to over 70 women who have previously attended exercise classes, attendance is slowly picking up. The women who attend class regularly are great, and I am excited and ready to see this program grow this year.

Aside from learning how to do guided meditation in Spanish for yoga class (apparently a class favorite… who knew?) I’ve recently been helping with lesson planning for English. I am helping Chet teach Adult English on Wednesdays and am starting to help Sarah with Children’s English on Mondays. The nutrition program for Aliñambi also requires some time, as several of us spent mornings going to the school to take growth measurements on each of the students. It’s very exciting to be a part of these different programs, and it’s looking to be a promising year.

Understandably, it takes a bit of juggling and a lot of planning to prepare for and teach many different classes - hence why I often feel like I’m a part of the circus. But then again, it could be that I’m woken up most mornings by the cow (whose grunts more closely resemble those of a dinosaur) that likes to graze outside of our window. Although the chaos of the Manna house and the flexibility required to run programs sometimes resembles a Barnum and Bailey’s three ring stage, Ecuador is becoming my home and I’m thrilled to be a part of a these communities.
Haley strengthening her core with a smile

Sonia, me and one of the other women doing yoga

Haley leading us into Meditation

Group picture after last Thursday's Yoga class

¡Hasta pronto!
- Haley "

Crazy Schedules and Family Dinners

So here we are in our second week as "the official and newly minted PDs," as the eloquent (and sorely missed) Holly Ward would say. I'm happy to report that we are quickly adapting to running programs, staffing the library/teen center and being the face of MPI while wandering the streets of our communities. While much of the credit goes to a well-planned turnover, I'm fairly certain that the rest goes to having impeccably scheduled (and busy) days.

Each of us is operating on a slightly different schedule, as we are juggling various responsibilities. Today, we kicked off our summer camp for niños. For the next two weeks, we get to spend each morning together entertaining and playing with the kids at camp before scattering to tackle other tasks in the afternoon. Krysta, for example, has been working non-stop to organize a joint free clinic day with the local school/orphanage, A
liñambi, in late August. Jackie and Dana have been teaming up with a community member to help run an environmental camp for kids (fondly called "Envirocamp" around the house). Mike has been learning the ins and outs of running the teen center and library, while Chet and Erik have been planning what the microfinance program will look like. Sonia and I have been researching and brainstorming what goes into developing a preventative health clinic. And last, but certainly not least, Haley and Shawn have been practicing their aerobics, tae bo, and yoga (in the living room... quite entertaining) in preparation for women's exercise, which happens three times a week. (Haley has also been spending her time trying to learn the bus routes as she has been stranded twice in the last three days... in the same place...)

Even with our different and hectic schedules, we manage to swarm the dinner table at the same time each night for family dinner, and I've found it to be one of my favorite parts of the day. Hearing my housemates talk about their progress and success amidst the jokes and pleas for dessert (usually from Bibi) is exciting and grounding. It reminds me that our 10 different schedules, infinite different interests and abilities allow us to impact our communities in countless ways.

Looks like it's begun. How lucky are we?

Until next time,

The weekly calendar (i.e. how we keep track of everyone else)... strategically placed next to the kitchen, the most popular room in the house

Haley practices taking Shawn's blood pressure before tonight's Women's Exercise class

Shawn, Sarah and Haley's legs feel GREAT after an hour of squats and Tae Bo...

This is how we feel about teaching aerobics during tomorrow's Women's Exercise class...