In the current political climate where some are being persecuted because of where they come from, I find myself clinging to my culture even tighter.
Every time I sweat it out with the ladies at eMERGE Wellness Studio on a Saturday morning I want to kiss myself for facing my fears and becoming a Socacize instructor.
Teaching a Socacize class combines two of my favorite things, Soca music and exercise. Ok, the second one is a lie.
Truth is, like millions of others, I hated exercise before I started teaching the classes. Staring into space while you’re grunting on a treadmill for 30 minutes is not my idea of fun and the only thing that would get me through was the heavy bass and pounding beat of Soca music.
Soca is a genre of Caribbean music that is fast-paced, melodic and usually focused on escapism and feel good vibes. At its root is a spirit of fun and unity.
I’m better in a class environment than on a solo tip, so I took a Zumba class and loved it. There’s something about the shared experience of dancing, laughing and taking your health into your own hands that’s infectious. I had no clue where my fellow classmates came from, what brought them there or what worried them at night but I knew for that hour we forgot everything and focused on our bodies and the beat.
I found myself making up workout routines to my favorite Soca songs and then, during a random Google search one day, I stumbled upon an aerobic workout called Socacize. It looked like it was made for me. I wasn’t the best winer (a Caribbean dance move that involves rolling your waist) and I’ve never done the full costume thing at a carnival but none of that seemed to matter.
I knew before I even started looking that the chances of finding a Socacize class in my area would be slim to zero. I was right - but I did see an option to train as an instructor and toyed with the idea for about 2 years before I finally committed to it.
I mean, I’m no expert. Who’s going to feel inspired by me sweating and jiggling all over the place? And don’t you have to be super fit to teach a class? What if no-one comes? A million other sabotaging thoughts ran through my head along with the fact that the training wasn’t cheap and wasting money is not something I like to do.
But it turned out to be one of the best investments I’ve ever made. When I weighed the pros and cons I realized that doing this was less about getting fit – and more about stepping out of my comfort zone, facing my fears, learning a new skill and most importantly staying connected with my culture.
So I huffed and puffed my way through the masterclass and felt a real sense of accomplishment when I finished and subsequently received my certification.
Sometimes God rewards you for stepping out in faith and it just so happened that a friend of mine was opening a local fitness studio and offered me a spot as an instructor. I was blessed not to have the challenge of searching for somewhere to teach and I’ll never forget that first day at eMERGE Wellness Studio – strutting my stuff in front of 5 strange ladies (one of whom was a fellow instructor) but I did it and they loved it and I’ve been doing it now for 4 months!
I don’t live in a very diverse area so finding ways to maintain my cultural identity can be hard. But for me it’s essential. My parents left their life in the Caribbean and came to the UK to pursue better opportunities for themselves and their children. They held on to their Caribbean traditions in a country that was alien to them.
I’ve realized to some extent I’m repeating that cycle having moved to the US from the UK. Although it’s not exactly a strange land staying connected to my British and Caribbean culture helps me feel less alienated and keeps me grounded. It’s who I am and it feeds my soul.
We should all feel free to celebrate our cultural traditions and be encouraged to find ways to keep our heritage alive.
Life's too short not to celebrate it...
Culture-vulture, passionate event planner, devoted wife and mother of two. Oh yes...and a witty Brit who loves palm trees and planning parties!!!.