Updated: Aug 28
Like so many women in their 50s, Ann Lewis knew she needed to exercise, but going to the gym didn’t appeal. And while she’d go for a walk every now and then, she wasn’t a really regular walker.
“If I have to rely on my own resources to get fit I won’t,” she admitted with a laugh. “But I know it’s important. The older you get, the more you’re body starts breaking down. You put on weight and you can’t get it off. Late last year I found out that my thyroid packed up, and I was stacking on weight like nobody’s business.”
Finding a way to exercise that stuck
“I realised I needed to do some exercise, but I hate doing exercise. I do love dancing though. When I hear music I just can’t sit still. I can’t understand how anyone else can sit still. It really makes me feel good and it’s fun.”
Ann had dabbled in dancing before, but nothing had really stuck.
“I thought a dance class would be a great way to exercise, but it was hard to find a dance class for adults that wasn’t couple dancing. A group of us did Greek dancing at one stage. When I was a teenager, I did some jazz ballet classes, and when I was a little girl I did ballet classes. But I gave it up because it seems like it would take too long to get to dance in a big frilly dress. I also did some Bollywood dancing with my sister-in-law.”
Then she and her sister-in-law, also called Anne, came along to try a Mature Dance class at Dragonfy Dance (then called Move Through Life).
“I hunted around on Facebook and some friends of mine had liked Move Through Life, so I thought I’d check it out, and it seemed to be a really good fit.” she explained.
A warm welcome and no judgement
Before she started classes with Dragonfly Dance, Ann admits that she did have some concerns about starting something new and not knowing what she was walking into.
“In the back of my mind I worried a little that I might not be able to do it, or I might make a fool of myself,” she admitted.
“The first class I came to with my sister-in-law, it really blew our mind how friendly everyone was. Very rarely do you walk into a situation like that where people say hello and make you feel welcome.”
“We have such a great time because all the women are great. We have a laugh and nobody is taking it too seriously. Plus you get that injection of music, so for an hour we are listening to music. All of those things combine to motivate me and make sure I keep coming back. It’s very social. We are all in it together, and we all just throw ourselves into it.”
One of the thing Ann loves about dancing with Dragonfly Dance is the supportiveness of the teachers and other dancers.
“I love it because it’s a very safe environment. You can do anything and nobody will judge you. You can be any shape or size, it doesn’t matter. It’s a really good place where you can let your hair down, let your inhibitions go, do something that’s good for you, and feel great at the end of it.”
She also loves that her weekly dance class fills a gap that is pervasive throughout adulthood.
“It means you get to do something that probably when you’re getting older you don’t get to do very often. You don’t go to discos or clubs, so you don’t get that chance. We don’t as a society do social dancing like other cultures do. So if you like dancing, it’s a time to go and do it. Nobody is watching you, you don’t have to get dressed up, you know you’re doing exercise, and it’s good for your brain. Everybody is really welcoming and make a point of saying hello when someone new comes.”
Feeling stronger, physically & mentally
It’s now seven months since she started the Mature Dance class, and she has also now picked up a ballet class, so she’s dancing twice a week (note: in 2022, several years on, Ann is also doing tap and jazz)
“Healthwise, physically, I can feel the difference, especially in my flexibility and strength. I do jobs where I sit down a lot and I’ve always had niggles in my back or strained my back. I haven’t had that since I started the dance classes. And I notice it even more now that I’m doing two classes a week.”
“I think flexibility is really important, because I can feel that as I’m getting older, I’m getting stiffer. You find yourself bending down to tie up shoe laces and groaning. Now that I dance, I feel like I’ve oiled my joints so I can move around and it’s not stiff. I can get out of a chair easily, and lift up my foot to put on socks more easily, and put on my undies without falling over,” she laughs. “It’s little things like that.”
She admits there have been some challenges.
“Trying to remember the steps is a challenge, and some of the technique in ballet. I don’t think I really appreciated just how hard it is. It looks easier than it actually is to get it all right. It just keeps those mental muscles working. I’m concentrating but in a fun way, so it doesn’t feel like work. I use my brain everyday but not necessarily like this. After class, I get a lovely endorphin rush, or maybe it’s just the music. That is using my brain as well. Not just remembering the steps, but matching the steps to the beat of the music as well.”
A life without dance
When asked to consider what life would be like if she wasn’t dancing, Anne doesn’t hesitate.
“I would still be sitting here thinking I must do some exercise and not doing anything about it. The impact on my body wouldn’t be good. Dancing has affected my weight, and it just makes me feel better.”
When asked what she’d say to someone else who is thinking about starting a dance class with Dragonflyly Dance, Anne says:
“Go for it! Absolutely go for it!
Dragonfly Dance offers dance classes to adults of all ages in ballet, contemporary, jazz, and tap. We pride ourselves on offering you a place to indulge your love of dance, whether you’re a complete beginner, had a long break from dance, or danced all your life. Our classes have a broad mix of ages, and our philosophy is that you are never too old to dance, it is never too late to start, and you can dance forever!
If you have any questions, give us a call on 08 7073 2069 firstname.lastname@example.org