Aerobics instructor promotes healthy living in Yamagata 


WATANABE Rumiko started doing aerobics about thirty years ago. She is now an aerobics instructor and teaches people who are mostly in their eighties and even babies who are not even a year old. She puts special emphasis on training the elderly so they can live a long and healthy life, feel happy and active, and reduce the need for nursing care.

Rumiko teaches about more than 300 people every week. After attending one of her classes, one student said: "I feel like I have a purpose now." She is determined to expand her services to the community so more people can enjoy a healthy, long life. She credits her mother for influencing her to have this philosophy in life.

In the upcoming Olympic Torch Relay, Rumiko hopes the local people will line up the route with matching banners and share the exciting moment of the torch relay together so they can truly feel that they participated in the Olympic Games too. She hopes sport can help people connect with each other.

How did you get involved with aerobics?

Thirty years ago I worked at a brokerage firm, and I started going to a fitness club that just opened in Yamagata in order to stay healthy. That's when I came to know aerobics and discovered how fun it is to work out to music. I signed up to attend a training seminar for aerobics instructors and became an instructor.

What is your teaching style?

I teach people to move or do yoga to music with a slow tempo, mainly stretching and twisting exercises, and I encourage them to enjoy it. Sometimes we sing old songs whilst working out. I approach everyone with a smile, telling them: "there's no need to overdo it, don't strain yourself, it should feel good."

How did your mother influence you?

She is what I strive to be. She used to be physically weak, but since she was in her thirties she served as a leader of the prefecture's senior badminton team and for over forty years accomplished a lot of things. I really respect her. I was never that good at sport, but I guess the reason why I was able to continue for thirty years is because I look up to her and try to follow in her footsteps.

What does sport mean to you?

Sport for me is more than just competition. It brings people together and it is something that people enjoy together. It makes people smile. It gives people strength. My role is to help people maintain a healthy mind and body through sport. Sport is a means for me to contribute to society.

Tell us the reason why you wanted to be a torchbearer.

I want to transfer the passionate energy of all the people who support me into the flame and carry the light of hope to the next torchbearer with a smile.