In the U.S., we often feel a sense of camaraderie and friendship in Body & Soul classes, but did you know that this feeling translates across continents? I went to Kenya last summer to lead a series of nutrition talks, and while I was there, I knew I wanted to check out the area Body & Soul classes. I reached out to some teachers in Nairobi ahead of time, and they told me that I would be welcome to join one of their classes when I was in town. That was great, as far as it went. I just honestly didn’t know what to expect from a Body & Soul class on the other side of the globe.
Already life in Kenya had struck me as drastically different from life in the U.S. I spotted cattle grazing on the median strips. There were tribal people groups who wore colorful clothing like nothing I’d ever seen before. I tasted foods unique to Kenya: chapatti, ugali, and special tea. So I wondered if Body & Soul would feel different, too.
But when I got to the class, it fit me like an old (exercise) shoe. The area instructors bent over backwards to make me feel “karibu” (“welcome.”) They had invited all instructors in the vicinity to come out and teach one giant class together. Students from all of the classes agreed to come on the appointed day and time as well. I felt so honored and thrilled that they had rearranged their schedules for me!
From the moment I arrived, there were smiles and hugs everywhere. There was a happy “buzz” in the air. Even though I had never met a soul from the classes in Nairobi, there was a sense of ease and family. The class started just like my Body & Soul classes state-side: with prayer. Then we turned up the music (the same motivating Christian music we use in the U.S.) and every instructor gave 110%, as she led from the stage. The students were working hard, too. We were all loving it, and, of course, every single one of us was sweating up a storm.
After class, everyone stayed as I gave a brief nutrition talk. And following that, the instructors and I went out to eat. I felt like everyone was watching me to see what I’d order, since I had just spoken about healthy eating! (By the way, if you are curious about the nutrition talk I gave, just listen to the Wise Traditions podcast that I am hosting! It is available on iTunes and Stitcher and its focus is on our need for whole, real foods—foods that people have eaten traditionally and thrived on for centuries!)
At the end of the night, I felt a pleasant glow, and I realized that it wasn’t just the endorphins from the exercise. It was the sense that Body & Soul has created an environment that surpasses cultural and national barriers. It is the “karibu” welcome that comes from the Spirit that pervades classes here in the U.S. and abroad. Let me know if you’ve experienced this in your Body & Soul class, too! It’s a blessing that you don’t have to go to Kenya to receive!
Hilda Labrada Gore is the DC Metro Regional Director and Director of Communications for Body & Soul. She is also the host of the Wise Traditions podcast and the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.