ANGLETON — Something strange happened at the Brazoria County Fairgrounds in January 2015. At 9 a.m. on a chilly, wet winter morning, healthcare exhibitors had finished decorating their tables and were standing behind their elaborate displays when doors were opened to the public.
Two minutes later, the sounds of a saucy merengue filled the auditorium and certified lifestyle trainer Merie Abercrombie took the microphone to welcome guests. Owner of Best Body by Merie in Lake Jackson, the laughing, ageless Abercrombie broke into a blood-pumping, high-energy exercise warmup. Employees of the healthcare organizations, settled in to greet visits to their exhibits, broke into dance.
A tradition was born.
Abercrombie will welcome visitors to the Gathering Place Brain Fair at 9 a.m. March 28 at the fairgrounds, 901 S. Downing Road in Angleton. Her energetic warmup will set the stage for 150 minutes of dance and exercise instruction.
“In 2015, studies indicated that the 80 percent of people who didn’t regularly exercise blamed lack of time. We knew from our experience with Brain Camp that people just hadn’t found a type of exercise they liked enough to make time for it,” Gathering Place CEO Dale Libby said. “Recent studies conclude that many people just do not like to be uncomfortable or break a sweat. They will not be attracted to running 5Ks or working out with weights, but they can get their heart rates up and reduce stress with dance, yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.”
“At the Brain Fair, our goals are to educate the public about health resources and lifestyle adaptations that mitigate risk factors for disease,” Gathering Place Education Coordinator Erika Longoria added. “I attended Brain Camp at Brazosport College in 2012, right after I retired as a teacher from Ogg Elementary. I had not exercised regularly in years. Brain Camp changed my life. I joined a Tai Chi class, and now I make time almost every day for Tai Chi and Qi Gong.”
Cheryl Tirtowidjojo, Longoria’s trainer and friend, will lead those two types of exercise at the Brain Fair.
“I started yoga eight years ago, switched to Tai Chi six years ago and now I love the health and energy benefits from Qi Gong.”
The exercise program aligns awareness, breath and movement for relaxation, martial arts training, healing and recreation. Its roots go back 7,000 years in mainland China.
Pat Williams, a 10-year Gathering Place volunteer and certified fitness instructor, will lead Zumba, dance routines set to Latin music. Originating in Colombia 20 years ago, the aerobic dance routines have transitioned from fad to mainstream and are now taught in 180 countries.
“That’s because Zumba is fun,’’ Longoria said. “For many people, music and socializing are also critical components to sustaining an exercise regimen.”
Popular Lake Jackson instructors Betty Franklin will lead line dance and Joan Roberts will demonstrate and teach yoga.
The sixth annual Brain Health Fair will be 9 a.m. to noon at the fairgrounds.