Cheer up and have fun: dancer spreads message of body jam

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 September, 2003, 12:00am

Dance and fitness instructor Wong Chi-chung loves to move - and he wants the rest of Hong Kong to loosen up too.

The 35-year-old is also trying to introduce Hong Kong to a new fitness craze, body jam, a combination of dance and aerobics-style group exercise.

'Many of my trainees move their body and step with the music mechanically, like this,' he says, mimicking their robotic expression and movement.

'Dancing is amazing. My job is to let these people cheer up when they are dancing, follow me and change their expression to this.' He points to his beaming face.

Mr Wong is Fitness First's head teacher for body jam, which employs a range of music from hip-hop and funk to Latin American and jazz. It emerged five years ago in New Zealand.

Mr Wong first worked as a record store assistant and then in a hotel, but he dreamed of being a singer. It wasn't until he was 25, however, that he found his real love - dance.

'People often believe that it's too late to start learning dancing. I really met a lot of difficulties at the beginning as I was not as agile as those who started practising from a very young age. But I just kept practising and it worked.'

He began to dance in a small company named Spring Poetry, which helped deaf and wheelchair-bound people take to the stage and dance. His experiences there helped Mr Wong believe in the magic of dance.

'The rhythms of body movement can cheer you up, no matter who you are. It doesn't matter even if you can't hear the music or have difficulties moving freely. When you dance, you will be happy,' he says. 'That's why I love dance and want to spread the excitement to others.'

In 1996, a fitness instructor introduced Mr Wong to the industry and encouraged him to teach dance in fitness classes. He soon realised that it was an ideal way to share his love of dance.

'During my seven years in this industry, I have found it very interesting to be a group fitness instructor. I can dance with many people and see the excited expressions on their faces.

'Most people take fitness dancing in their leisure time, but I take this leisure activity as my work, so I have fun all the time.'

Mr Wong says his next aim is to train other fitness instructors.

'Now my students are the fitness amateurs, but I want to be the professional fitness teachers' trainer, the teachers' teacher.

'It's like climbing mountains. I have arrived at the peak of a hill, but there are many higher peaks in front of me. I won't stop climbing.'