There are countless benefits to being fit and healthy. Not only does it give one the strength and energy to do much more than what is usual, it also gives self-confidence and sharpness of mind that can allow people to conquer fields that are far and above what is physical.
Take the case of 10 year old Martina Paz. Mj, as family and friends call her, is a champion student athlete who has already amassed a good collection of triumphs in competitive gymnastics competitions both here and abroad.
A quadruple gold medalist in this year’s Bangkok Gymnastics Moose Games Invitational Meet, where she clashed grace and flexibilities with kids her age from all over the world, she has a winning spirit in her that she is able to bring even in the four corners of her classroom.
“I love gymnastics but, of course, I also love school,” she quips when asked how she is able to cope between sports and academics. And obviously, she does know her priorities. She is a consistent academic honors awardee in her school and is likewise a regular recipient of the Exemplary in Conduct recognition. “Gymnastics needs a lot of discipline. I try to bring that even in class. Besides, I’m really quite shy,” she admits.
However, shyness is something that is quite not evident in her, if you see how this bundle of energy runs, tumbles and jumps about every corridor or hallway she sets her feet on. It only makes one realize that she is, after all, a kid.
“I just love doing my handstands. Everything looks different upside down,” Mj reasons almost philosophically. It is perhaps because of her unconventional vision of the world that gives Mj the boldness to break away from the hard-lined science of school and sports and get her feet stepping on the soft artistic territory of the performing stage.
Only recently, this diminutive young lady got herself in the cast of this year’s much-talked about musicale, Ang Huling El Bimbo. Pitting talents with stellar stage performers, such as Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Shiela Francisco, Gian Magdangal, Oj Mariano, Jon Santos, Topper Fabregas, Reb Atadero and Tanya Manalang, this stage newbie proved that she can hold her own even when she’s off the gymnastics floor.
Mj played the role of Liwanag, a short but pivotal role, which she consistently performs with great sensitivity.
“The things that I do onstage, I got those from my parents. I probably got my energy and drive from my dad who is a fighter. He’s not the type who says no to a challenge. My dancing, I probably got that from my mom. My singing? Hhmm, I guess, hati na lang. Since both of them don’t sing! Haha!,” she giggles. Mj’s parents are Martin and Jay Paz, who are always understandably nervous every time their daughter sees action, be it on the gymnastics floor or on the theatre stage.
But what if MJ is made to choose only one between gymnastics and theatre? “Oh, no. That’s hard. I love doing both,” is her answer. And there’s certainty in her tone.
A fit and healthy kid, Martina is. And it shows in the many things she does, all in excellent fashion. Her story gives us reason to encourage our children to get into sports early the same way Martina’s parents did. Perhaps it iss the one true formula to building a nation of healthy, determined and smart achievers.