Fun with Fitness

“For this reader and her husband, fitness is anything but the same old song and dance”

Square Up, Slim Down and Promenade the Pounds Away

By Diane Gustwiller; Defiance, Ohio

WHENEVER I HEAR a do-si-do, I hurry onto the dance floor... I can't wait for that toe-tapping music to start!

It was just last year that my husband and I first tried square dancing...and now we're truly a swinging couple. We've joined three area dance clubs and get together to square dance four or five nights a week. We have a terrific time enjoying one another's company... and while we're having fun, we're also staying fit.

Experts say Western square dancing is an excellent form of aerobic activity. It keeps the heart rate elevated without putting a lot of stress on the joints. I have a few dancing friends, for example, who have had heart surgery and hip and knee replacements, and their doctors insisted they continue dancing twice a week.

Personally, I've found that square dancing increases my energy level and practically eliminates all those aches and pains that are associated with age. It also helped me lose weight for good.

You see, I gained a lot after the birth of my first child. I tried all sorts of diet and exercise fads, but nothing worked. Several years and five children later, I was truly tipping the scales.

After the kids were grown, I was determined to do better. I began eating well-balanced meals and taking 2-mile walks. John had promised that when I lost 40 pounds, he would take me out to celebrate with a night of dancing.

I was so excited when I finally reached my goal! When John asked me where I'd like to go, I told him square dancing.

                                                                  Swing Your Partner

We were both a bit nervous when we entered the dance hall...and sat close to the exit in case we wanted to leave early.

That thought never crossed our minds, however, because everyone there was so friendly. They explained the various aspects of square dancing and told us about local dancing organizations.

Our new friends asked the dance caller to call something easy for us, and we anxiously took to the floor. The others guided us along, and before we knew it, we were square dancing!

John and I eagerly signed up for lessons. At first, our arms, legs and feet were a little sore, but our muscles grew stronger after a few classes and soon we could dance all night long.

We started dancing regularly with other dance club members - in everything from state fair pavilions and extravagant halls to nursing homes and our friends' garages. We even danced on a float moving through a parade.

Not only did square dancing bring John and me closer together and introduce us to lifelong friends, it drastically improved our overall health as well.

After only 6 months of eating right and square dancing, I lost 40 more pounds. A year later, I'm still losing weight, and John is reducing inches around his waistline.

For me, that's the exciting thing about square dancing ... we have so much fun doing it that the extra pounds seem to melt away on their own.

Square dancing has brought us together in another way, too We began to publish a magazine, Dancing Data, from our home. It serves square dancers in the Midwest and is a fun way to share our enthusiasm and knowledge about Western square dancing with others.

The Low‑Down on the Hoedown

Still not sure if swinging across the dance floor is the right exercise for you? Consider the following:

§         If you can walk, you can square dance. I've danced with all sorts of people, from 10-year old kids to folks over the age of 90. Because Western square dancing relies on walking steps, nearly everyone can do it.

§         Western dancing is universal. No matter what state or country you're visiting, Western square dancing follows the same patterns and is always called in English. Square dancers have no trouble finding a dance ... even when on vacation.

§         The price is right. Most square dance events charge between $5 and $8 per couple for an entire evening of dancing. And all you'll need are suitable shoes, comfortable clothes and the desire to let loose and have a good time.

I recommend lessons for beginners. The classes offer terrific workouts and are an excellent way to meet others.

Not sure how to get started in square dancing? E-mail me at .  I'll try to put you in touch with a square dance organization near you.

Once you hit the floor, you'll fall in love with Western square dancing and its many benefits. I guarantee you'll want to swing your partner long past when it's time to promenade home!


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