The Benefits of Balllroom - Dancing after Retirement

PUBLISHED: 14:31 18 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:08 20 February 2013

The Benefits of Balllroom - Dancing after Retirement

The Benefits of Balllroom - Dancing after Retirement

From the foxtrot to freestyle, Alexandra Richards finds out how dancing after retirement can be more than just a pastime...

Ballroom Benefits

From the foxtrot to freestyle, Alexandra Richards finds out how dancing after retirement can be more than just a pastime

Last year the nation was divided by the weekly spectacle of retired politician Ann Widdecombes performance on BBCs Strictly Come Dancing. The judges were not often complimentary about her dancing prowess, yet Ann said her time on the show was life enhancing and a terrific experience.

Dancing after retirement is a fantastic way to get fit and meet new people. Ann is not alone in her views. Fred, 80, and Sheila, 76, from Bournemouth teach ballroom classes at Pavilion Dance four times a week. The couple, who have been married and dancing together for more than 55 years, have won medals all over the country and their dancing life has been intensive, practising three to four times a week, and competing on both Saturdays and Sundays across the UK.

When he was 70, Fred suffered a heart attack and two strokes. His doctor told him that had he not danced so much, he wouldnt have survived.

Dancing throughout my life has meant that Ive invested in my future, Fred tells me, adding that he thoroughly enjoys teaching others.

Fred and Sheilas ballroom classes are the most popular classes at the venue, and one of their regulars is 80-year-old John Bennington. Last August John, who enjoyed a relatively active lifestyle, broke his femur, an experience that knocked him sideways as it prevented him from exercising for far longer than he had anticipated. He signed up for Fred and Sheilas classes to help get him moving again. Im using muscles I havent used in years! Its also a sociable class, which is good as Ive just moved to the area.

Ian Abbot, Programme Manager at Bournemouth Pavilion, says that its not just strictly ballroom that their older customers are interested in. We have clients of 70 plus coming to our more modern-style classes like hip hop, contemporary and bollywood, and we also have younger people enjoying traditional classes such as ballroom and mambo.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, the Fit as a Fiddle programme from Age Concern Dorchester offers classes for all to enjoy. The project champions physical activity and well-being for older people. Its co-ordinator, John Yonwin, is convinced of the multitude of benefits that dancing can offer people in their older years. Even gentle exercise will increase the heart rate and give your cardiovascular fitness a lift! As we get older our muscles have a tendency to deteriorate. Dancing can slow down this process. Fit as a Fiddle also organises tea dances at the Bridport Arts Centre which are very popular.

Research suggests that around 200 calories per hour can be burned whilst ballroom dancing, so what better way to get in shape and socialise than enjoying a Fit as a Fiddle dance class?

The sessions are run by qualified instructors and are held in local to you locations, such as village halls, with the first session absolutely free. John welcomes any suggestions for new classes, locations and volunteers for the Fit as a Fiddle programme.

Here are some of the classes available at Pavilion Dance:

12pm Ballroom Basic
7pm Rhythm Tap - lntermediate

12pm Mambo
8pm Ballroom - Practice

6pm Persian Dance
7pm Contemporary - Basic

12pm World Dance
6pm Ballet - Basic

6pm Bollywood
7pm Contemporary Latin

For a full list of classes visit:

Fit as a Fiddle
John Yonwin, Fit as a Fiddle
Co-ordinator, Age Concem
Donchester: acdoicrmterorg or
call 01.205 269444

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