Giving it a whirl

Joan Lee, Jakob Preston, and Theresa

Happily dancing the waltz, rumba, and foxtrot to better health.

Learning ballroom dancing has become a new joy in my life, and I’m inspired by the talented instructors and dancing peers I’ve met, including Joan Lee, 87, of Leesburg, who is determined not to let balance issues or last November’s back surgery stop her from dancing the swing, rumba, or foxtrot on the dance floor of Ballroom Dancin’ in Leesburg.

The widow says dancing has enriched her health, physically and mentally. She will dance competitively at the Majesty DanceSport in January 2020 in Orlando.

“You have to have something that you believe in or do as you get older,” Joan says. “Don’t give up!”

She wasn’t allowed to dance growing up. Her grandma frowned on girls wiggling their hips.

“Over the years since I was a child, I’ve had a lot of falls, two concussions, and my balance was terrible,” says Joan, recalling that 13 years ago, a doctor told her she would have to use a wheelchair within two years.

“I’m dancing for my health,” she says.

Also inspiring is Ballroom Dancin’ owner Chris McCain, who credits ballroom dancing for giving him stronger mobility and better balance after he needed reconstructive ankle surgery because of basketball injuries.

“As people get older, we spend 90 percent of our time moving forward, 7 percent of our time moving backwards, and very little going side to side,” Chris says. “With that in mind, we start to lose balance because we typically only move one direction all the time.”

Ballroom dancing calls for moving in all directions. It also offers cardiovascular rewards, and frequent dancing was listed as the only physical activity to provide protection against dementia in a 21-year-study of seniors age 75 and older published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

Since I began taking classes and attending the studio’s parties, I’ve found dancing to be a fun, total body workout and a great mood booster, and I feel healthier now than ever in my life.

So, a shout-out to Chris and his dance instructor peers Jakob Preston, David Whittaker, Carson Humphries, Atanas Pavlov, Phillip Hollifield, and Jazmyn Durgin for what you do to get me, Joan, and countless others out on the dance floor to have fun and enjoy the health benefits of grooving to the music. 

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