Native Americans are 60 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites so the Coeur D’Alene tribe, whose headquarters is in northern Idaho, is trying to combat the problem by incorporating culture into fitness programs.

pow-wow-sweat

The tribe has created an exercise routine — called “Powwow Sweat” — based on traditional dancing. The program features a series of workout videos that break down six traditional dances into step-by-step exercise routines.

“Drop the pringles and let’s jingle,” commands Shedaezha Hodge, as she demonstrates the steps that make up the women’s “Jingle Dress” dance.

High steps, box steps, cross steps and kicks combine into a routine that would give any Zumba class a run for its money.

“Sweating yet?” Hodge asks, as she encourages the dancers to go faster and kick higher.

Traditional Dance

Members of the Coeur D’Alene tribe demonstrate the “basic step” that’s used in traditional powwow dances.

All the dances in the exercise program are typical at powwows, including the “Men’s Fancy Dance,” — which features four basic steps and a hip move. The hip move involves lifting your knee up, then circling it out to the side, all the while bouncing to the drum beat.

The Crow Hop

Combine “basic steps” with “hops,” “spins” and “side taps” — this dance will make your calves burn!

“It’s almost like jumping rope for 25 minutes straight,” Louie says, as she keeps everyone moving through dance steps at one of the weekly exercise classes. “If you don’t do it regularly, your calves will hurt, like you’re just out of breath, because you’re just constantly bouncing.”

It’s this combination of tradition and exercise that keeps tribal member Ryan Ortivez and his neighbors coming to class each week, to watch the videos and dance alongside each other.

“It’s a lot more attractive than doing jogging or the bicycle for me, because it also relates to my culture,” says Ortivez.

“I’m in love with my community, first and foremost,” he says. “My people. I love to see my community get involved and get active and be healthy.”

In addition to losing weight and getting healthy, Ortivez wants to get in good enough shape to dance in the tribe’s powwow this summer. If he does, it will be his first time.”It’s almost like jumping rope for 25 minutes straight,” Louie says, as she keeps everyone moving through dance steps at one of the weekly exercise classes. “If you don’t do it regularly, your calves will hurt, like you’re just out of breath, because you’re just constantly bouncing.”

It’s this combination of tradition and exercise that keeps tribal member Ryan Ortivez and his neighbors coming to class each week, to watch the videos and dance alongside each other.

“It’s a lot more attractive than doing jogging or the bicycle for me, because it also relates to my culture,” says Ortivez.

“I’m in love with my community, first and foremost,” he says. “My people. I love to see my community get involved and get active and be healthy.”

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