Updated: Aug 28
Kate King was about to retire, and she wanted to find something to fill her time. She wanted something that was a good mix of social, physical and mental activities. Her goal was to continue to live a fulfilling, active and happy life so she could enjoy her retirement.
Kate’s body had started to stiffen up and she had pain in her neck and shoulders, from her years working at a computer. And she was struggling to do anything that involved bending down. As a result, she was less able to enjoy doing things she loved, like playing with her grandkids and volunteering doing bush care with Trees for Life. She knew she needed to find a way to slow, and even reverse, the effects of aging.
Luckily, at the time that Kate was looking for a way to be more active, she discovered the new Mature Dance class that Dragonfly Dance (then called Move Through Life Dance Studio) was about to launch in Crafers, near her home in the Adelaide Hills. As someone who loves to move to music and hated the idea of joining a gym, Kate had discovered a new activity that she looks forward to doing every week.
The best part about it is that Kate says joining the dance class has helped her reverse the effects of aging that had crept up on her in the last 10 years. She now has more energy and a more supple body which means she can keep doing the things she loves, like gardening, going on holidays and going for motorbike rides with her husband.
Does Kate’s story sound anything like yours?
Keep reading for her full story so you can decide if Dragonfly Dance could help you too.
Kate had done some dance classes when she was very young but not for long. Other than that, her only other dance experience was doing her own thing to music.
“I did ballet when I was four. At that age, I think they are looking out for young people who have the potential to become dancers and to progress and do exams. And I certainly didn’t have the grace or pose for that. I was more of a tree climber, what we called a tom boy at that time. So that didn’t last for very long. I did a lot of active things."
Despite her short lived dance career, Kate had always loved music and of course, dancing to music.
“I’m a real music lover, and I know I needed to keep moving and get fit. As I’m getting older my joint and muscles are stiffening up. I was about to retire and was planning how I would spend my time. I knew I wanted a good balance of social things and physical things and mental things and so on. So I had in mind to do exercise of some sort, then I saw the advertising for the mature dance class and that was exactly what I wanted to do.”
“I’ve always liked going out at night and dancing, so moving to music comes really naturally. But I hadn’t really thought about doing a dance class until I saw the mature dance class advertised. I don’t like the idea of going to a gym. I think that would be a competitive atmosphere. The dance classes are somewhere we are all going to enjoy moving music.”
People her own age and no judgement
Apart from it not being the gym, Kate also loved the idea of doing a dance class with people her own age and it not being about having the perfect body or the right exercise gear.
“It appealed to me because it was aimed at mature adults. I don’t feel like I have to perform like a younger person would. It’s aimed at keeping us moving but the teachers take into account that we don’t have young supple bodies like we might have once.”
“The thing I don’t like about the idea of going to a gym is that I think I’d feel like I was being judged. There is no judgement in the dance class. It’s not about trying to be as good or better than anyone else. Instead, it’s about moving, keeping healthy, and enjoying the music. I don’t feel like I’ve got to have my Lorna Jane gear on. I’m on a budget, and all I want is the movement and the enjoyment, not any of the other stuff that goes with it. And we have such a good time. I don’t think I’d laugh so much at a gym.”
“If I was shown how to do something in a gym and I wasn’t getting it, I’d feel really intimidated and inadequate. Whereas in our dance class when you are supposed to put your right foot in and you put it out instead, we just laugh. It doesn’t mean we’re not trying to do it right, but it feels a lot more comfortable and non-judgemental. We are all different shapes and sizes as well, we don’t look like a troupe of ballerinas.”
Knowing that the class was aimed at people her age helped Kate overcome any reservations she had about going to start a new activity when she didn’t know anyone else there.
“For most of my life I was very shy. Very backward in coming forward, but I think as I’ve gotten older I realised if you don’t get out there and do it you miss out on so much. You just have to give yourself a kick in the pants, so that’s why I was able to walk into the class by myself on the first day .I knew it would be of benefit to me. I didn’t feel like it was going to be somewhere that I felt intimidated. Particularly as it was aimed at my age group. I knew I wouldn’t encounter a room full of 18 year olds.”
“It’s great that we have something that is specifically catering to our age group. Because there isn’t anything like it. We could do ballroom but to do this kind of dance and to do the warming up and strengthening and stretching is so beneficial for our aging bodies.”
Feeling younger, stronger and pain free
Kate has been coming to her weekly dance class for about 18 months now, and she is convinced that it’s made her feel younger and stronger and able to keep participating in life.
“I’m certainly feeling that my joints are moving better. I have less pain in my joints and I can feel my muscles are stronger. I notice it when I’m playing with my grandkids. Getting up and down off the floor is so much easier. Certainly I have a lot less pain in my neck and shoulders. I worked with computers for years and they were so sore and tense, and that is definitely loosening up.”
“I also do bush care with Trees For Life which involves bending down and weeding. When I first started doing that I found it very difficult to get up and down, but now that I’m stronger in my muscles and joints. Basically I feel like I’ve reversed what was happening as far as my joints starting to seize up and slow down. I’m so pleased I’ve been able to do that. I’m not 60 yet, and if you just let it go and don’t do anything about it, you slowly deteriorate day by day.”
“Dance has definitely helped with an issues I’ve been having with my hip, and it’s strengthening my joints and back. We do a lot of strengthening and stretching of back and legs in class and I feel the difference. I think that’s why it’s easier to pick up the grandkids and do bush care weeding.
Kate revealed how the hour a week in dance class has started to creep into her everyday life.
“I’ve become a lot more in touch with my body and muscles and joints since doing dancing. I’m a bit more conscious of how I’m moving and standing. While we’re talking I’m sitting on the sofa and stretching my legs, and while I’m cleaning my teeth I practice little things like rises and leg lifts.”
Feeling happy and alert
For Kate, one of the best things about dancing is how it makes her feel, and knowing that she remain mentally alert and active, and the reward of achieving something she’s had to work for.
“When we first start the class and do the warm up I hear the clicks and pops, and by the end of it I feel much looser and more relaxed.”
“I also feel like I’m keeping my brain active. I wouldn’t say I’ve noticed an improvement, but it’s not deteriorating. The dance routines help to keep my brain firing. We’re doing a routine where one leg goes one way and the arm goes the other. We struggle and we try, and when we finally get it we feel such a sense of achievement.”
“I think probably because you are trying to remember a sequence of steps, and perhaps our brains aren’t quite as quick as they used to be. That can be challenging but it’s one of the benefits of doing it as well. So when we learn a new routine, remembering you have to do four of this and two of that and turn around and so on. But it also gives you a good sense of achievement when you work through it.”
What kind of dance
“A lot of people ask me what sort of dance we do. Really it’s a whole range of dances. There’s a little bit of ballet kind of moves, a bit sort of funky dance, and I actually don’t know how to describe it. It’s so varied, and incorporates all types of dance. I love being exposed to different things, and I don’t think I’d get that experience anywhere else. It’s an opportunity to try out new things. If I put music on at home and danced I wouldn’t think of the choreography the teachers do.”
Slowing the aging process
They say that energy begets energy, and Kate can’t agree more with that idea.
“Before I started dancing I’d started to feel deterioration. A lot of soreness in neck and shoulders and joints starting to feel like they were seizing up. I found it very difficult to pick things up of the floor or to get down and back up again, so if I hadn’t going to the classes I guess that would have continued to go downhill until it was too painful to do anything. Now I feel like I’ve gone back ten years to move like I did before.”
“The more you can move, the more you feel comfortable with it, the more you do. So I’m more inclined to go for on a long walk because I feel better. I don’t like to think about how it would have gone. I was quite stiff and sore, and I’ve reversed that now.”
Kate’s also convinced that the additional exercise she’s been doing has helped her avoid one of the most common chronic diseases associated with aging.
“A few years ago my doctor told me I was officially pre diabetic. As well as dancing I also paid attention to my diet and did whatever I could to change things. I went back about 6 months later and all my blood tests came back really good. Dance has been a part of that. It’s weight management and health and fitness and so on. Dance isn’t the whole story, it is part of it. I’m more inclined to eat something healthy and to continue the good work after I’ve danced. If I’ve been doing something active, I don’t feel like I want to slob around and watch TV. I want to keep moving, so I think it gets me moving more outside of dance as well.”
Woo hoo, it’s class day!
It can be really hard to keep up with exercise and other habits that are good for us, but Kate doesn’t find that to be a problem at all with her dance class.
“I think my favourite thing about dance class is that it helps me to maintain my health, my weight, and my fitness level. But doing it in such a fun way, so it brings enjoyment into my life while having these really good physical benefits as well."
“I wake up on Thursday morning and I think ‘woo hoo it’s class day!’ I really, really look forward to it because the classes are so much fun. If I woke up and it was gym day I’d probably stay in bed. The class is aimed at our age group, so you can feel very comfortable and not threatened or inadequate or whatever. I love the music. I love to move, and I really enjoy the company of the other people. We are all likeminded people and we get along very well together. We can all laugh with each other, not at each other. I’ve found the whole experience so enjoyable.”
“I really enjoy the music and being guided by someone who is experienced and knows what they’re doing to help us to dance in a safe way.”
“I’m just really grateful this class has come along and has come at the right time for me. I needed that element of exercise. I’m so pleased we have a class here in the hills. I’d encourage anyone who is thinking about doing a dance class to just do it. Just come along and see if you like it. I’m sure anyone who has any fears about it will be very pleasantly surprised.”