They had me at “Moon River,” one of my all-time favorite tunes. It was the warm-up music they used for our trial dance session almost three years ago. I remember even singing silently to the tune as I stretched and flexed some muscles that had been rendered inflexible for years. Towards the end when I was humming the part that says “we’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ‘round the bend…” I knew that Carewell, my wellness support group, had made the perfect choice in having LeBran DFS as our dance fitness partners.
Except for one thing. Our coaches do not label themselves as dance instructors or DIs, but “shapers.” Brando Balmedina, LeBran President/Artistic Director, and Val Guico, Business Development Consultant, explained why when they introduced the group to us before we started the trial session.
LeBran aims to fulfill a two-pronged mission: to help its clients keep in shape through dance exercises and at the same time provide sustainable income for young and talented but financially challenged dancers in the Philippines. LeBran supports its teachers or shapers not only through dance skills training, but also through personality development, values formation, financial literacy, and business management. Thus, while dancing to stay in shape, LeBran clients also help ‘shape’ young lives.
In the three years that we’ve struggled to keep up with different beats and dance steps, we’ve had a number of shapers weave in and out of our Wednesday and Saturday sessions at Carewell.
Junior shapers Axl, Jeannie, JunRey, Gerry, Maui, Vince, and senior shapers Belinda, Myrone, and Abby, following company rules, had to pass various LeBran certifications and examinations before they were allowed to teach specific dance routines. Many other shapers are currently in college while some have already earned their college degrees. Without any exception, all of the shapers we’ve met are competent, dedicated, well-mannered, and very professional — clearly shaped out of a special mold. They’re such fun to jive with.
Meet LeBran shapers Abby and Axl.
Abby with some Carewell members and friends from the AIN Society of Singapore who joined a recent dance fitness session.
Happily, Abby Tinio, our mainstay shaper, seems pleased with how we’ve managed to pick up pace from the Latin cha cha, bachata, and samba to the trickier routines of Material Girl, She Bangs, and Waka Waka, among others. Many of us in our senior years actually found our groove with the music of VST and Co. and Gary Valenciano. And although some geriatric hips and knees refuse to cooperate, cooling down to the sensuous tune of Bali Ha’i is a cool idea, nonetheless.
As soon as we get comfortable with a routine, teacher Abby uses a different music—a faster one to suit our heightened energy level! And this, I believe, is the real deal. At a certain stage, we dance not necessarily to try and whittle down our waist sizes to what they were decades ago, but simply to move to the beat and enjoy the moment.
As we loosen up and try to keep up with the moves, we burn calories; but even more important, we have fun. We release endorphins as we join kindred spirits on the dance floor. Minds and bodies relax as stress melts away. The laughter and camaraderie are simply priceless.
Carewell partnering with LeBran is a win-win situation. Even Albert Einstein agrees.