Over the last four years I’ve written again and again about BODYJAM, a pre-choreographed dance party workout I teach at a local gym. In the years since I’ve become an instructor of the program, I’ve written about it less and less, simply because as an employee of the gym I don’t want to let too much of the mystique out of the bag (and because any occasional whining about work conditions might get me called to “the principal’s office”).
Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, which is teaching BODYJAM. Last week, I had one more reason to love my job more, and that reason’s name is Gandalf Archer.
No, this is not Gandalf from Lord of the Rings (although I think he’s just as cool =p). G is the program director, choreographer, and worldwide face of BODYJAM. He’s based in Auckland, New Zealand, and travels every quarter to take the experience of BODYJAM to instructors around the world.
This month, on his way home from those travels, he dropped by Manila. He’d been hearing a lot about how passionate we are about the program, and how Filipinos love to dance. So, last Monday night we BODYJAM instructors had a little meet-and-greet with him.
We usually get choreography for BODYJAM through DVD, and many of us had only seen him on our TV screens. So meeting him in the flesh was a completely different experience. My mind is still in denial, actually. It all feels like I was watching it on TV.
I had my copy of BODYJAM 43 (my training release) signed by him. It was strange because I was starstruck up until I walked up to him and started talking to him. And then something switched on in my brain and I was just chatty all of a sudden. I was with a fellow instructor, Ryan, who had been having posters autographed for the past few minutes.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi. Sorry to bother you…
G: Oh, it’s not a bother.
Me: (holding my hand out) I’m Noelle, and I think you know Ryan. He’s back with another poster, I think he’s gone into business selling them…
G: Well, it’s going to be a short-lived business, like, it’ll be over in five minutes.
Me: Would you mind signing my training release?
G: Sure. (scribbles)
Me: It was ten releases ago.
G: That’s a lot of releases.
We had a question-and-answer period; my trainer Arnold Warren told us to make it interactive, so we had to think up of some questions to ask G.
The YouTube ID of _T9KvDMXyJw?fs=1 is invalid.
I asked him “the hardest question” (4:07)
And then he wanted to dance with us a little. Once the music started playing, we just went wild, and we just lost ourselves in the experience.
The YouTube ID of -yE0k3CWLCU?fs=1 is invalid.
dance, dance like it’s the last, last night of your life
That wasn’t the end of it. The next night, we had arranged for a big event, called “G Live: The BODYJAM Main Event”. People could buy tickets to enter what we had billed as a two-and-a-half hour dance workout, led by G. He taught the upcoming release, BODYJAM 54, plus something he billed as “55” but was actually a freestyle routine. Fan-freaking-tastic.
There was a part of me that had gone to sleep and had just been going through the motions. It took an encounter with G, someone who lives a really creative life bringing BODYJAM to life, to wake me up again. The time he spent with us told us that we do matter, we do make a difference, we have something to be proud of. It was something I badly needed, and since then I’ve been supercharged.
The Philippines loves you, G. Come back soon!