It’s almost 8 am and approximately 100 people have gathered around the pool area like ants around candy creating a circle on the ground floor. Nobody speaks. On the second floor, they’re standing in crowds outside Atlántico, the offices, and by the mini golf course, everyone waiting for the first song to play – the first song of the last 33 years.
Morning gym has been a part of Club La Santa since the first day of its opening in 1983. One of the two first Green Teamers, Henning Havgaard, came up with the idea of the traditional Danish basic steps gymnastics. With a past in the military teaching how to combine music and training, Henning Havgaard brought a lot of experience with him. Later, Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World became the welcoming song.
In 1997 Club La Santa made slight changes to the routine and people were outraged. Morning gym is tradition. People, who have come here for several years and faithfully gotten up every morning, including the weekends, to join the mandatory 15 minutes of nostalgia, all remember exactly how it goes.
Club La Santa is waking up
The sun’s slowly making its appearance behind the white buildings this March morning. In workout clothes and running shoes people are well prepared as they’re being welcomed by the lyrics I see trees of green, red roses too. A couple’s jumping up and down, four boys are crawling into their hoodies leaving their naked legs out in the morning fresh air. A woman stands on her tip toes – up, down, up, down.
When Club La Santa first opened it was far from a finished project and couldn’t quite live up the accommodation of other hotels. Instead they decided to focus on the large range of activities they could offer their guests and there was no doubt that should include a morning program for all guests to start off their day together in the best way.
Today the Green Team Dorota is greeting people from the instructor’s platform while they find their positions. With low voices, some of the elder participants start to small talk and a joke makes three young men laugh very quietly.
A Jane Fonda session
The warm rays of the morning sun continue to spread over the pool area stroking each and every one. “Good morning!” Dorota yells out and a wave of “Good morning” from all Club La Santa guests flows back to her. The music starts and everybody’s facing towards Dotora. With crossed arms above the chest they’re ready for a Jane Fonda 80’s session.
Jane Fonda was a very popular gym instructor back in the 80´s and Henning Havgaard got a lot of his inspiration from her warm up sessions. 14 years later, they decided to switch out some of the exercises with fewer twists and turned up the music pace to make it safer for especially the elder guests. Even though the changes weren’t received well at first the instructors chose to keep them for safety reasons.
They start out with breathing exercises embracing the whole world with open arms bending down in a squat. It flows to a side stretch. I start to look around as people are going into a right arm stretch leaning their head on their right shoulder. They start to step back and forth and it almost looks like a zombie scene from Thriller - almost.
Familiar faces everywhere
Looking around there’re familiar faces everywhere. Gloria, the cleaning Lady, the tall and broad shouldered man from the reception, Simone from the restaurant, the handyman, Green Teamers, and Echedey, the pool guy. They’re all focused on Dorota and yet doing the movements in their very own way – some more stiff than others, but they’re all smiling.
Dorota continues to a high knee exercise and especially the elder ladies are joining with perfect resemblance and faces that show no sign of struggle – they got this. Just like the hundreds of other times they’ve done the exact same. Some with closed eyes, following the music instinctually, leaving the rest of the world out for just a moment.
The instructors change frequently and will always know if they’re doing it wrong. All it takes is a short second of eye contact with a guest who immediately will send a look of disapproval if something isn’t like they remember. They aren’t afraid to correct them afterwards, either. That’s how important this morning tradition is to Club La Santa’s guests.
One joined movement
The pace of the music slows down and the 15 minutes’ morning classic ends with stretches. As the music fades people start clapping. A newfound energy flows through the guests who’re talking and laughing. The legendary, collective 80’s hit’s over again for the approximately ten thousand time - until tomorrow.
The guests don’t seem like the same people who quietly walked in 15 minutes ago. Now, Club La Santa has woken up to a new day under the clear blue Lanzarote sky by letting go of all thoughts for a moment to just go with the flow and follow the music as one joined movement.
Not only does the morning gym wake up families and friends but also memories as it follows generation to generation. It’s a big part of the Club La Santa spirit, and for many guests it’s like returning home. From the recognition of the motions and music with the beauty of the rising sun, all Club La Santa is reborn. It’s the longest living tradition and will never change.