When you hear about physical fitness in high school the mind is quick to jump to the traditional sports like baseball, basketball, football and cross county, to name a few. But for local girl Jessica Takayama, there were more alternatives.
“I didn’t play traditional sports in high school,” Takayama said. “I was active in the performing arts — drama, dance and music in which our body is our instrument and fine tuned as such.”
Takayama, a 2000 Konawaena High graduate, received her induction into what she calls the “soft sports” of swimming, ballet and other dance classes between the ages 5 to 7.
Today and as a result of her early beginnings, she is the co-founder of Safety Pin Productions, LLC, and a Hawaii Island performing arts organization.
“I also teach a culinary arts class through the local non-profit Big Island Wellness Solutions,” she said. “We currently work with Big Island Substance Abuse Council bringing culinary arts to their Therapeutic Living Program.”
This busy young professional recently turned 30 and her spark of energy can be seen in the many things that she’s been involved with in our community.
Additionally, Takayama is involved as the Public Outreach Coordinator for Dr. George Kosmides at Total Health Hawaii at the Naniloa Resort.
“I book Dr. Komides for free Wellness Workshops in which he shares his research and answers health questions,” Takayama said. “I try to instill an open communication environment in the workplace, whether with my students, patients, or colleagues. Clear communication reduces stress between individuals.”
Takayama maintains her own physical routine to continue that balance.
“I find it important to start every morning with stretches or yoga to shift my body from resting to activity,” Takayama said. “Having a network of other active people helps me to stay focused, encourages my activity and enjoyment, too.”
She will switch from a variety of activities to maintain that balance.
“I will stretch daily and take fencing classes on Tuesday and Thursday,” she said. “I reserve Wednesday and Fridays for paddling.”
Paddling has become the first group sport that Takayama has participated in and has found that working with a team is extremely pleasurable.
“I only started paddling in May of this year and it seems to melt the stress of my endless to do list away,” Takayama said. “I have found it both exhilarating to learn to move six other people as one. It requires a lot of concentration.”
Takayama will switch from jogging to plyometrics, strength training, swimming, or other activities on other days.
For Takayama, fencing is another sport that has captivated her.
“Fencing has me intrigued since learning a stage combat type in high school,” she said. “While it is a sport of a dueling nature, I find that the biggest competition is with me in being aware of my stance and executing moves properly.”
Jogging has become another favorite for Takayama because “it really is an individual sport so that one can feel free to push oneself freely.”
“My main goal is to get at least one hour of activity a day,” she said. “Even doing chores at home counts!”
Her fitness even extends to what she eats at home.
Takayama tries to make whole food choices, non-processed foods.
“I eat more fruits and veggies, and have more lean protein,” she said. “I cook for myself as much as I can, but I do have the occasional fast food indulgence.”
And what exercise related goal has Takayama set for herself?
Since losing 95 pounds over the past two years and keeping it off, Takayama would like to hit that magical 100-pound mark.
“My current goal is to just get better at being physical and to improve every day,” she said. “Whether it be lengthening my stride, my stroke while paddling with the team, or putting more precision in my parry, I just want to feel good about my own improvement.”
And Takayama has the right attitude about fitness. It is all about taking small steps to improvement. It’s about taking charge of your life and taking small strides every day to notice where your health benefits you the most.
“In the past, I focused on weight loss but got less enjoyment that way,” she said. “When something becomes fun you are more likely to stick with it. However, I have accomplished that goal and I am now looking forward to making fitness more fun.”
Takayama grew up with the performing arts as her base and that limited her exposure from the traditional sports.
“There seems to be a competitive nature among athletes, which can be motivating some times, but a source of disappointment at others,” Takayama said. “I feel that no person can be better than another person, we can only be better than our former selves.”
Jessica Takayama brings an interesting perspective to our East Hawaii community and makes a welcomed addition.
And someday should you happen to see a walker or jogger climbing Shower Drive and the hills of Hawaiian Paradise Park, remember to say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
Email the Big Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org.