Thursday, April 18, 2024

Dynamic dance moves


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WHEN MARSHA WHITTAKER decided to resign from working full-time to establish Bajantics Dancercise, many people thought she was possibly losing her mind.

But this is just the type of person Marsha is – a risk-taker.

In 2013, Whittaker had an idea to merge dance with exercise in an effort to assist Barbadians who were desirous of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in a fun and comfortable environment. But this idea was put on hold because of an operation.

Months after recuperation, she was even more passionate about moving the idea to execution when she linked up with Randy Payne.

Payne, the principal of the Black Diamond Dance Academy, was at the time looking for an experienced Afro-Caribbean hip hop dancer, while Whittaker was interested in salsa.

The two were the ideal pairing, so much so that Whittaker decided to run full throttle with the idea of the programme.

True, there are many similar dance/exercise programmes out there, but what was different about hers was that it was an actual dance programme which taught actual dance steps and routines.

Payne fell in love with the idea and gave Whittaker the go-ahead, although he wasn’t yet signed on to the name “Bajantics”.

“Because of my graphic artist background I just questioned if it was easy on the tongue but then it just grew on me,” Payne explained.

On January 13 last year, Bajantics Dancercise was formally established, with the first class being held at the Sugar Cane Mall on Roebuck Street. Classes are now held on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday at the Police Sports Club ay Weymouth and beginning this month, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Deacons Resource Centre in Deacons, St Michael.

To say that things were hard in the initial stages would be a far cry from the truth; they were exhaustingly, difficult. On some days classes would have at most, one person. But with faith, persistence and as the time went on and word of their services began to spread, they now have more than 100 consistent participants in the two classes.

“We wanted to create an environment where all people are comfortable working towards a goal,” Marsha said. “The thing about the business is though we would like to make money, that isn’t the key focus.

“To see somebody start at one size and then in a couple months [drop] another size is satisfying. I would get some messages ‘We got to go to the needleworker, Marsha, we got to buy new clothes’, that makes me feel good. From the time a person loses weight, their self-esteem skyrockets.”

Randy said that his enjoyment came from witnessing the transformation of his students and the idea of Barbadians as more health-conscious people.

That was why he believed that Bajantics was gaining such popularity. Moreover, he was of the opinion that the “family” which they have created was the reason why participants stayed.

Marsha said: “They are actually learning dance steps while exercising so if you do a wrong step we are going to stop you to do it over. No one comes to Bajantics and feels uncomfortable.

“We let them know this is not a race;  everyone loses weight differently – each pound is a success and should be celebrated and we celebrate everyone through the Bajantics WhatsApp support group.

The duo believe that they have a viable business once they continue to push and to do what was necessary. That is by placing the health and comfort of their clients at the fore. Hence, their long-term goal is for Bajantics to have its own home and for at least two other stores opened across the island.

“Bajantics transcends age, size or any physical barriers,” Randy said. “There is no reason why a wheelchair user, visually impaired or hearing impaired person can’t be a part of the group.

“Even though we looked at this and said ‘yes we can be viable a business’, why it came about was a love for seeing people happy. I always like to see people happy, in Marsha’s case she likes to see people satisfied and hence we came together.”  (SDB Media)


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