Chanda Park

Wednesday - June 22, 2011
By MidWeek Staff | Share
Photo by Shayna Park

These days it seems Americans are constantly being bombarded with depressing statistics about negative trends for our families. Obesity, especially childhood obesity, is constantly on the rise; one in three children is overweight. Furthermore, families are spending less time together.

But Chanda Park, a Makiki dental hygienist, is working to change those trends. By teaching Zumba class with her two daughters, ages 10 and 12, Park ensures that her family stays active - and that they do so together. She encourages participants to bring their children.

The family trio teaches class twice a week: Tuesdays from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. at Kalihi Waena Elementary, and Sundays from 1 to 2 p.m. at Momilani Community Center for $5 a class. Park says Zumba is perfect for families because it’s fun. Part workout and part dance party, Zumba combines various types of music and dance including merengue, reggaeton and salsa.

“When I was first taking classes,” Park says, “I would come home and teach the song to my girls. They loved it and they wanted to learn more.”

Park has been practicing Zumba for two years and was inspired to start family-friendly classes after seeing other families lead unhealthy lifestyles and witnessing the dangerous consequences that lack of exercise can bring. When Park’s own family started getting less exercise, she knew she had to do something. “I felt like I could see them going down that road and I had to put a stop to it,” she says.

Not only do the Zumba classes provide Park and her girls with exercise, but they also have become a way for her whole family to spend time together. “My son is only 4, and he ... jumps around to the music,” she says. “And my husband does the music and helps check people in.”

Having her family spend time together was another motivation to start the classes. “I thought that if I became an instructor, I didn’t want to take any more time away from my kids,” says Park, who is also the secretary of the Hawaii Dental Hygienist’s Association. “[The classes] get them out of the house and get them moving. And it’s something we can do as a family.”

Park’s family-centered initiative is already catching on. Classes are free for ages 10-15, and a few regulars bring their children every week.

Eventually, she hopes to teach Zumba in schools, and plans are in the works with Kalihi Waena to offer classes for students and parents.

Email Park at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information. Sign up for July and get four sessions for $10.   

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