MALIBU, Calif. – Richard Simmons had better stay on his toes. White Mountain Apache comedian Drew LaCapa is gunning for his job. But it doesn’t look like Simmons will have to turn over his tank-top just yet. LaCapa seems to prefer leopard print spandex and purple gingham dresses.
“Rez-Robics,” the long-awaited two-video set produced by DreamCatchers Inc. and Navajo Health Promotion specifically targets American Indians and is available free of charge to them. “Rez-Robics – The Exercise Tape” and “Rez-Robics for Coach Potato Skins” use humor to teach simple methods to treat and beat the silent killer that has reached epidemic proportions – diabetes.
LaCapa provides comic relief on “Rez-Robics for Coach Potato Skins” with the help of Northern Exposure’s Elaine Miles, Nez Perce/Cayuse, rapper Natay, Navajo, and other well known Indian country faces. “Rez-Robics for Coach Potato Skins” is a one-hour motivational tape designed to coax even extremely sedentary people to begin exercising and learning to eat better.
“Originally we thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool if there was an Indian Richard Simmons,’ somebody who could make Indian people laugh and make them exercise,” said Gary Rhine, the head of DreamCatchers Inc., in an April 25 interview with Indian Country Today.
“Drew Lacapa – we had met him at a number of different events like the American Indian Film Festival. We loved his huge heart and his great humor and his willingness to make fun of himself. As it turned out it turned into something quite poignant that he became part of it because he had just been diagnosed with diabetes himself and that wasn’t common knowledge,” said Rhine.
“It was similar with Elaine. Elaine’s mom and aunt had both been diagnosed with diabetes and the two of them had had very different experiences with it. We found out about all of that and used it in the script.”
Co-producer and health promotion guru Pam Belgarde, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, and martial artist Reggie Mitchell, Navajo, host the hour-long companion video “Rez-Robics – The Exercise Tape.” The low impact exercise segments feature fun pow wow dance steps and basic martial arts moves. Each segment is choreographed to popular contemporary Indian music by groups like Ulali and Brul?.
Belgarde has been a media producer as well as a health promoter for a number of years. She once moderated a health show on “Native America Calling” and produced a video entitled “Just say no to fry bread.”
“Pam and I had been bouncing ideas back and forth on how to encourage Indian country to exercise and eat healthy and what we could do to combat diabetes. And we had always thought that humor would be important,” said Rhine.
ICT covered the filming which took place in 2000 (Vol. 20, Issue 27). Only now have the videos been made available to the public. “Rez-Robics” is one of a very few professional videos with “Reproduction and distribution of this video is encouraged ?” plastered across its label.
DreamCatchers Inc. is a non-profit organization responsible for a number of different projects in Indian country.
“We juried at the first nationally broadcast, regularly scheduled, TV series on Native issues called ‘First Peoples TV.’ We have been giving scholarships to aspiring Indian screenwriters for a number of years helping to generate movies from Indian country. We also were involved with producing and distributing ‘The Red Road to Sobriety’ which promotes and amplifies the sobriety movement that was already flourishing in Native America,” said Rhine.
To receive free copies of the “Rez-Robics,” send a self-addressed box or padded envelope big enough for two VHS videotapes along with five dollars worth of postage stamps (no meter labels) to DreamCatchers Inc., 23852 PCH #766, Malibu, Calif. 90265.
Organizations, non-Indians and anyone interested in more information on receiving the tapes can visit www.dreamcatchers.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.