Koko ri ko, koko ri ko
bjapay ngari zetog…
This rooster song is an evergreen song among many Bhutanese. The lyrics are simple, the dance steps fun and it is a sing-along song.
If many grew up singing or dancing to the rooster song, there is a new dimension added to it. Koko ri ko has become a Bhutanese version of Zumba, an exercise fitness programme.
Called Luejong, the fitness programme is a part of the health ministry’s “Health in and health for all” approach with the concept developed by the health minister, Dechen Wangmo. It is a dance-based fitness program that encompasses around achieving cardio, strength, balance, flexibility and improving concentration.
Koko ri ko is the first song of the 10-minute long dance- based fitness programme. Then comes Druk zhung di na gawa lu, another popular song that is on every lips, especially after the 112th National Day, where it was the theme song.
With more dancing beats added and sung by an octogenarian, Ap Teyh Teyh, Druk Zhung di na has traditional steps to keep the tradition alive and Zumba steps like squats, turns and shakes to tone the muscles.
Lumba Chungchu, the third song is another lively song that everybody likes to jump, turn as we clap hands to the song. It is the favourite song at all gatherings, especially when those gathered are not so good at dancing.
The Luejong ends with a remix of M Studio’s Losar Tashi Delek song, which is full of messages on the importance of a healthy life.
Choreographer Deepika Adhikari calls the Luejong a mix of traditional moves and Zumba steps to generate interest among all age groups.
Luejong is not typical Zumba fitness programme. It is more than that. “Through fitness, we are trying to promote culture and revive popular Dzongkha songs and dance steps that has a fitness steps engrained in it,” said Deepika who is a certified Zumba trainer.
The longer version, 30 minutes, of the Luejong released today has 10 songs including the Wang Zhay, some steps from mask dances and other popular songs like Kesangla and Zumbuling la.
Wang Zhay involves large arm and foot works and high jumps, moves while mask dance steps involve a lot of jumps and back and forth movements in combination with aerobics moves and mixed martial arts. “The steps are good for calves and thighs,” said the trainer.
The idea of the Luejong started in a small hall at the health ministry where Deepika initiated an after-office fitness programme. “The health minister saw the groups and suggested making it a national programme,” she said.
With support from the World Health Organisation, a complete 30-minute programme is readied with a new approach.
The “Health in all” is an approach to reflect on health impact in all aspects of development and policy considerations. “It is considering the impact on health from our development activates,” said Deepika.
The “Health for all” approach is supposed to make health accessible to all in achieving Universal Health Coverage and inculcate healthy lifestyle through promotion of healthy activities and routines into day-to-day lives of everyone.
500 students from 11 schools of Thimphu Thromde, teachers and 100 government officials performing the Luejong at the Changlimithang stadium today is the official launch of Luejong.
The plan is to introduce the progamme to all schools and then to other formal and informal communities and ultimately to the whole population of Bhutan.
“It is simple, easy and short. Anybody can do it at their convenience and stay healthy,” said Deepika Adhikari.