Here we are, we made it to Bunda! After being here for nearly a week I decided that I should get a good workout in. It seemed like a good time Monday evening when we returned from the CPAR office. Since the sun was beginning to set, the guesthouse casted a shadow on the courtyard sheltering it from the hot African sun. I changed into a t-shirt, shorts that went down to my knees, put on my headphones and walked barefoot out onto the courtyard with a skipping rope in hand. I started skipping to warm-up then moved onto a series of exercises that consisted of squats, lunges, burpees, core exercises and push-ups. My group mates sat around the table in the courtyard enjoying the weather and a cup of tea. It wasn’t until I started my second set that I realized that just outside the gate of our guesthouse a small audience of local children had gathered to look on at us. At first I didn’t think much of it since we often attracted stares and attention from the locals where ever we went because we looked different, but then I realized how silly I must have looked performing my exercises. It became humorous at one point because some of the kids started copying my motions.
In a place where walking is the main mode of transportation, and chores like carrying water require physical exertion, exercise is incorporated into the daily lives of the people in Bunda. Exercise for the sake of exercising is a privilege and the need to exercise derives from our privileged lives. In a world where there are people who don’t have enough to eat in the first place, choosing to physically exert ourselves only causes us to consume even more food. Our lives of excess eating and lack of need to physically exert ourselves due to the conveniences of running water, electricity and transportation makes exercise a choice rather than a daily necessity. This makes for an interesting comparison to a place like Bunda where physically exerting yourself is not a choice and physical/financial access to healthy nutritious food is often times not sufficient.
Next time you go for a run, head to the gym or workout, think about how privileged you are to be able to have that choice and how privileged you are to be able to properly replenish your body afterwards.