The Tepehua Community Center proudly opened the door to its Gymnasium at the end of July. The first week was very slow with only a few people. As weeks passed, more people came. “If you build it, (they) will come,” appropriately from the movie “Field of Dreams.” The purpose of the gym was to provide an alternative activity for youth hanging around the street corners of Tepehua inhaling or drinking their choice of passive suicide. All ages are coming to the gym, including women. The instructor, Carlos, is a professional whose earlier life echoed that of the boys; he lived their stories.
The Community Center has always been orientated to the whole family, but the recreation was always used by women and children because men would not come. The Center can now offer recreation that men/boys can enjoy as well as women.
At this point, the classes are free three times a week, because of a generous mentor who is paying for the professional’s time. The gymnasium will have to come up with a way to become sustainable. Once we get some more donations for equipment, sustainability should be the easy part.
There is a difference between weightlifting and gymnastics, one builds muscle mass and the other improves balance and grace. One aims at strength and the other perfection of movement. It’s easier to fail with gymnastics as the movements demand perfection to work, whereas weightlifting is a challenge that the body can overcome with much less time. The perfect mix of the two is required, obtainable balance and muscle tone, wherein lies therapy for a healthier mind.
The earliest reference to weightlifting dates to China’s Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC – 256 BC), but also Egypt and Greece, from artifacts found. Gymnastics started around 393 AD in Greece, the word derived from a Greek word meaning “to exercise naked,” which they did. (Tepehua doesn’t!!) The Romans, after conquering Greece, turned it into a more formal sport and used it to train their legions for warfare.
In Japan they have taken weightlifting to another extreme in recent years, tying weights to the expanded part of the corpus cavernosum of the male urethra. To strengthen the muscle they even flagellate with bricks. Please do not call the author to translate, It’s an ‘ouch!’
Incarcerated men devised exercises for small places. Charles Salvador (alias Charles Bronson) was one such prisoner and even wrote a book on the subject, advocating not allowing your circumstances to waste your mind or body. Poverty is a little like incarceration, where vision for a future is small and opportunity non-existent.
Like most group efforts, you can change circumstances and create a door where there was none. The only failure is if you do not try.
MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING
Column: Profiling Tepehua
Settled in Mexico 13 years ago. The intention was to retire into the arts as a writer, poet and painter...that didn’t happen. Beneath the smiles of the peoples of Mexico there was such a great need for change, especially for the women and children of the barrios, Moonyeen has dedicated these years to change the face of this little corner of the world. The work done by the volunteers of the Tepehua Community Center is teaching that change is possible anywhere. Moonyeen was portrayed as “Woman of the Year,” also two Paul Harris Rotary awards for the work done at Tepehua. “Life in Mexico is very fulfilling. The Mexican people give so much more to us immigrants than we can possible return.