A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Getting Physical
By Olayinka Fadahunsi

Fitness and gym routines often seem incompatible with the starchy mounds of fufu, rice, or ugali that make up many typical African meals, but even a short spell in the weight room or on the elliptical machine can go a long way towards maintaining a healthy heart. To get started, look into free trial offers for gyms around your home or workplace. Nationwide chain Bally's offers a two-week 'guest pass' that gives you access to all of their exercise offerings, from intense group exercise classes to an hour-long one-on-one consultation with an accredited Bally's personal trainer. click here to find out more.

If your February 14 is less about shaping up for your lover and more about getting over recent heartbreak, give Crunch's five-day guest pass trial a shot. Sign up and join their Ex-Factor class, which promises to give you an opportunity to release some of your frustration with an ex through a boxing/kickboxing-centered workout. Don't forget to bring a picture of the offending party to get you worked up. Crunch will offer the Ex-Factor class in six locations around the country--New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Miami. Moved on from your last break-up and want to get toned up for steamy sessions with your latest love? Crunch's free "Meet Our Sexercise Expert" consultations on February 13, 14, 15, 26, 27, and 28 will give you great pointers at no cost. Check their website  to find out more.

Maintaining a healthy heart doesn't have to be all about high-tech facilities and novelty classes. If there's one thing that Africans from across the globe have in common, it's the love of dance, and there's no better way to work up a sweat while getting up close and personal with someone in the spirit of the day than learning some new footwork. Studios offering classes in continental and Diaspora dances abound across the country, ranging from daily sessions at Washington, DC's African heritage dancers and drummers  to Boston's comprehensive WaDaBo , where you can learn everything from Senegalese sabar to Salvador de Bahia's capoeira.

For something a little less frenetic that will still get your pulse racing, you and your partner can learn the steps of sensual African-inspired couples' dances like Angolan kizomba, a relative of couples' dances like zouk and samba, or Afro-Argentine milonga the ancestor of the seductive tango.

Whatever you choose to do to incorporate a little physical activity into your Valentine's Day routine this year, you might want to hold off on hitting the shower until you meet up with your partner. Recent research by scientists at the University of California Berkeley Olfactory Research Project found that a sniff of androstadienone, a compound found in male sweat and often added to perfumes and cologne, increased arousal, heart rates, and brain activity in women. That's more than enough reason to start pumping iron or working it out on the dancefloor this Valentine's Day.