The Maasai are a beautiful, elegant people. But when the warriors in Camp Comfort (a safari camp run by Maasai warriors) put on a dance for us, their leader saw disappointment at the performance in my wife's face. He quickly explained that he used to be able to jump higher until the western diet they had succumbed to in looking after white visitors had taken down his natural ability. It was not, however, the lack of height in his jumping that disappointed us. I suppose we had expected that such an elegant people would put on a musical, elegant, aesthetic show, (comparable to our Irish River Dance - see below) rather than just five or six energetic jumps into the air.
But the Maasai dance influenced my fitness programme!
It is not the high jumping I emulate. Before the jumping starts, they stand around in a half-circle and work up a bit of a rhythm, bending their knees while keeping both feet on the ground. Then a solo dancer, or a small group of dancers, steps forward and starts bouncing - one to five or six bounces - before retiring back to the circle again. This preliminary rhythmic bending of the knees is an excellent and easily-emulated exercise, that can be taken up at any time of the day (e.g., to get the blood flowing first thing in the morning, or while waiting for the kettle to boil for your cup of green tea).
Watch the video. It shows that they spend a lot of time standing around bending the knees rhythmically and only a little while jumping. An easy exercise and quite beneficial!
We can take it a bit further. By speeding up the rate at which we bend the knees (but lessening the extent of the bend) we can start the whole body shaking, which massages the internal organs while exercising the muscles.
As well as emulating the knee-bending of the Maasai Dance, I try to emulate the Maasai posture by wearing Maasai Barefoot Technology (MBT) shoes (a Swiss invention):