The healing power of dancing

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A few years ago, grandma Catherine Mathebe could barely walk without help.

She was overweight, had very high blood pressure and was suffering severe arthritis which made it nearly impossible for her to sometimes even dress up on her own.

But, today the 63-year-old tells a different story. Catherine is the founder and leader of Bophelong Fitness Club in the township of Tembisa, South Africa.

She recalls, ‘I had two doctors and both of them referred me to a hospital for surgery, because I was so big and my feet was so puff. I get to the hospital, fill out all of the paperwork and then I told the doctors I will come back, and I ran away. I never went back there.’

Catherine Mathebe leading a group in her dance class

Catherine says her health condition was a big problem for her family. ‘My children did not like leaving me alone at home, because sometimes getting into the kitchen to even make food for myself was very difficult. My arthritis was really very bad.’

According to Catherine Mathebe, her healing came through dancing. ‘I was alone at home one day and then I got up with the help of the broom, to try to move around. Then I heard the song, ‘Zulu Elele’ on radio and I started moving to the rhythm. I just started moving and just like that I started dancing.’

Catherine says she took a liking to being able to move parts of her body gradually and by continuously keeping up with it, she was able to move her whole body.

‘I started moving and trying to dance in August and by December, I did not need help to move around anymore. I was doing everything on my own and for myself. Many people do not even believe me when I tell them I got healed through exercise and dancing.’

Catherine’s dance class started in her house and with time she had to move to her open yard and before long they had to move on to the street. The word had gone around and more and more people were showing up to try to regain their health through dancing.

A lot of testimonies have been shared by members of the Bophelong Fitness Club. One said, ‘I was weighing a 110kg before I started the class but now I weigh about 80. I have seen great improvement in my life.’ Another granny, who was there with her granddaughter said, ‘I have high blood pressure and my granddaughter has diabetes. She used to collapse a lot a in school. But we were invited to try Catherine’s class and now my granddaughter does not faint anymore. We have seen a tremendous improvement in our lives.’

Catherine Mathebe says she encourages everyone to ‘stand-up and dance.’ ‘When you dance, you feel stronger, younger and better. So, I will tell everyone to just stand up and dance!!’

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