Digging into anything and everything that makes the CNMI tick beyond politics...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Zumba Fitness: Moving toward a new beat | health-matters

THE lights flashed, the music started, and the enthusiastic dancers sauntered to the floor of GIG Discotheque in Garapan to sway to the beat of the island’s latest fad in fitness dancing — the Zumba.

Contributed photosThe event was to officially introduce Zumba to Saipan and at the same time raise funds for the ongoing relief efforts for the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami last month which claimed thousands of lives and left thousands more homeless in Japan.

“I am very excited about this new page in my life that can lead me and everyone who would like to try this new style of fitness to better health and happier days,” Zumba Fitness instructor at said Gold’s Gym, Elly Stoilova, who initiated the “Zumba for Japan” event on Friday night .

Stoilova said a friend introduced Zumba Fitness to her four months ago.

“A friend asked me to help purchase a Zumba Fitness DVD set online. I checked some videos to see what I was about to purchase. I fell in love with the music and the movements from first glance and ordered two sets, one for my friend and one for me,” Stoilova said. And thus began her enthusiasm for this fitness dance that has been becoming more popular all over the world.

Stoilova said she began doing the Zumba Fitness program at home as part of her personal weight loss program in conjunction with enrolling in the Gold’s Gym Challenge.

“As Zumba Fitness movements are dance-inspired and introduced at the basic level with step-by-step instructions, it took me several repetitions to start moving and getting the flow of the various dances,” she said.

The more she repeated the dance steps, the better she felt about how she moved and grew more confident in her Zumba Fitness dancing.

Last month, there was a Zumba Fitness Basic Training for instructors on Guam, and she attended the training together with Samantha A’ani Birmingham-Babauta. The two are the first Zumba Fitness instructors on Saipan. Stoilova also attended an Aqua Zumba Fitness training so she could teach Zumba in the pool.

Easy for beginners

Beginners or shy individuals need not worry because all the classes Stoilova and Sami will be teaching at Gold’s Gym are designed for beginners.

“For the first month, we will practice the basic steps of Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia and Reggaeton together with some other international dance rhythms, and introduce some easy combinations and choreographies,” she said.

Stoilova said she already conducted one test class last week and she was happy to see that most of the students learned the steps quickly.

“Even the shiest people in the class started smiling and enjoying the dances by the end of the session. Mastering the steps involves continuous repetition and adding some personal flair, based on mood and allowing the body to groove to the bustling Latin sounds,” she said.

There is no standard way to do Zumba Fitness as everyone will add his own personal style in time, Stoilova said.

“I truly believe that if we create a Zumba party one month from now, those students who participate regularly at the Gold’s Gym classes will let loose and go wild on the dance floor!” she added.


How many times one needs to dance to keep fit depends on the individual’s personal health and fitness level. To stay fit, Stoilova said she would recommend mixing Zumba Fitness with other types of exercise along with eating healthy.

“Doing Zumba Fitness twice weekly for 45 minutes may be a good start for someone who is new to fitness, as this dance-like exercise provides cardio and works all muscle groups at the same time,” she said.

Compared to other forms of dancing for exercise, Zumba Fitness is an “effective, exhilarating, Latin-inspired, easy-to-follow, calorie-burning dance-fitness party that has taken the fitness industry by storm.”

“Zumba Fitness creator Alberto ‘Beto’ Perez says that Zumba Fitness is a way for people to exercise and to not know that as they dance and they have fun together. I would add that one doesn’t need to know how to dance in order to do Zumba. Follow and enjoy!” Stoilova said.

Benefits from Zumba

Stoilova said that Zumba Fitness was the perfect addition to her Gold’s Gym Challenge program.

“I did weightlifting, cycling, strength training using free weights and various machines at Gold’s Gym, stretching and pilates. It all worked as I could see myself losing pounds and shrinking in size each week. Zumba Fitness made my exercise routine fun, helped me lose weight and brought a lot of positive energy to my days,” Stoilova said.

If she does Zumba Fitness in the morning, she feels like she is dancing all day long!

“I smile, I laugh more and I feel alive. I haven’t been in a discotheque for about 8 years, as I thought I am a little old to enjoy the dance floor with teenagers. Zumba Fitness brought back the pleasure of dancing to my life and because of that, I love it!” she added.

Classes at Gold’s Gym

This week, Zumba Fitness classes will officially start at Gold’s Gym. Stoilova said a lot of people have already been inquiring about the classes.

“When something new and positive appears in our life, it usually brings excitement and gives us additional power to go through challenges. Use Zumba Fitness as a new platform that will help you become fit, learn to dance and enjoy dancing, overcome your shyness, meet new people and make new friends. Zumba Fitness made my life much more enjoyable,” Stoilova said.

Try it and see for yourself!

(This article was originally published at Zumba Fitness: Moving toward a new beat | health-matters)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Profile: Chefs Jojo & Guan Li: Running a restaurant in hard economic times | business-edge

RUNNING a restaurant and keeping it alive in these hard economic times on Saipan is very challenging, but this couple works successfully together to make ends meet and to continue serving delicious food to their clients in the island.

Jojo & Guan Li Photos by Raquel C. BagnolJojo Li and her husband Chef Guan opened Royal Spring Taste House, a small but pleasant restaurant serving Chinese food on the ground floor of the Millennium Plaza at Coffee Tree Mall in Garapan in June 2009.

“When we opened the restaurant, we were still able to hire a staffer but later, we have to juggle all the work between us because times are really hard. Sometimes, our 17-year-old son helps us out when he is around,” Li told the Variety.

She said most of their customers especially at night are those who work at the massage parlors and bars in Garapan who would come for a bowl of hot soup or noodles, or get a real meal before going home in the early hours of the morning.

“Now it’s so hard because if they don’t have customers at the massage parlors and bars, they won’t get any tips and they won’t spend anything for food,” she said.

Work for the Li couple does not end. Although they open the restaurant at past 1 p.m. every day for a late lunch, they are open all the way until 2 or 2:30 a.m.

The couple buys ingredients on wholesale basis because they can save on trips to the store and on the individual price of commodities.

The couple’s day starts with preparing the basic ingredients, slicing and marinating meat for short orders, and cleaning and preparing the place for diners who come in for a late lunch.

The couple said the last time they were able to go home for a vacation in China was three years ago, before they opened Royal Spring Taste House.

With almost all restaurants in Garapan closing up at 11 p.m., Royal Spring Taste House has an edge because they stay open when most of the night spot workers go home from work.

“Things have really gotten worse these past years, not only restaurants but for other businesses, too but we manage to get by,” she said.

Now, higher bills to pay for rent and utilities, the escalating cost of ingredients, lesser customers, more restaurants and fast foods sprouting around the area, and the low cost of food they offer in their menu to customers, struggling to stay afloat is a real challenge, Li said.

Royal Spring delivers food orders for conferences and gatherings. Just place your orders at least two or three hours ahead of time. They also deliver short orders around Garapan area.

Royal Spring Taste House prices start from the budget- friendly level and up, depending on your order.

Both Jojo and Guan were originally from Guangzhou, China. They left their hometown over 20 years ago to seek greener pastures here. The two met and married here, and both have been witnesses to how the economy of Saipan bloated, flopped and finally torn to shreds but they are still here, trying to survive the everyday challenges of running a restaurant and feeding people delicious food “fit for a king,” as what the restaurant’s name suggests in the Chinese language.

They are also among the thousands of guest workers whose uncertain fate hangs in the balance since federal immigration law was extended to the CNMI.

Royal Spring Taste House accepts only cash for now. For a taste of the restaurant’s specialties, call 233-1668.

A trip back in time | around-the-island

A trip back in time | around-the-island