Professional boxer and model Tomomi Takano has turned her attention to the Tohoku region, where obesity spiked after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, especially in nuclear disaster-struck Fukushima Prefecture.
She is introducing “boxercise” to help local children engage in physical activity.
On Wednesday, the 27-year-old Takano organized the first boxing workout class for first- and second-year students at a junior high school in the village of Otama.
Following the quake-tsunami disaster, the prefectural government reported that Fukushima children had become the most obese in Japan because their outdoor activity, and hence exercise, had been widely curbed by the triple-meltdown catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Amid concerns over the health effects of prolonged exposure to radiation, many teachers and parents continue to restrict the children’s time spent outdoors.
During the first boxercise class at the junior high on Wednesday, about 150 students practiced mastering the “one-two” combination of jabs and straight punches.
“It was really fun because as a member of the school’s brass band I don’t usually get much exercise,” said Momoka Komuro, 13.
“I’d like to try to learn it from the basics,” she added.
Hoping to motivate the children, Takano said: “With respect to the people around you — your family members and friends — who support and encourage you to pursue your dreams, I want you all to take on new challenges and set new goals.”
With lack of exercise posing a long-term problem in Fukushima, she said she will continue to try to inspire the children there with her boxing workout classes.