Some of the men and women who work out at the Blount Memorial Medical Fitness Center recently added a new twist to their workout routines. And although the “twist” isn’t part of their routine, they are breaking out some of their favorite dance moves.
It began when a former Medical Fitness member, Wanda Fields, met her now good friend Sue Castleman on a cruise. The women realized they lived in the same area, and began working out together at the Blount Memorial Medical Fitness Center and dancing at the Everett Senior Center, in Maryville.
Medical Fitness Center director Kathy Tallent soon saw the healthy fun that the two women were having when they started showing off their moves at Blount Memorial’s Transitional Care Center at MorningView Village. “They were doing line dances at the sock hop.”
Tallent says that they began practicing the line-dance moves after group workout classes, and several men and women have joined in to learn. Fields, Castleman and Tallent have helped members learn the moves, and all members are working at their own pace. Those that have mastered line dancing have moved on to learn the waltz. Two Medical Fitness Center members also are square-dance callers, which Tallent says members will learn at some point. “It’s something new to look forward to, and it’s something fun,” she says.
There are several health benefits of dancing, Tallent says, including the aerobic moves they do for the electric slide routine. It also assists with balance and neurobics, as it exercises the brain while they try to remember the steps.
James McCulla, 83, was a minister for several years, and says dancing was never a part of his life until now. He says the exercise he gets while line dancing benefits his health and keeps him moving.
Frank Parr suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and has been going to Medical Fitness for about two years. He says Tallent wrote the steps down on a piece of paper for him, and he goes home and practices with his wife. He says he plans on learning more steps, as the exercise also is beneficial for him.
Donnie Pratt has been working out at Medical Fitness for a little more than a year. He says he had a stroke about seven years ago, and found line dancing to be fun, as well as a good workout and weight management tool. He has already shown off his skills at the Sock Hop Swing and was planning to attend the Jingle Bell Swing, which were both held at the Blount Memorial Transitional Care Center at MorningView Village.
Vic Salyer volunteers at Blount Memorial Hospital, and said Tallent lured him into line dancing by using his love-interest, Marleen Boehm, to draw him in. Boehm is the president-elect of the Blount Memorial Auxiliary and works out at Medical Fitness. She and Salyar met while volunteering together and soon became a couple.
“I was raised without dancing in my life,” Salyar says, but now he enjoys the routine. “I want to learn different steps now if I can find someone to teach me how,” he says as Boehm gives a nod of affirmation on her willingness to teach him. Boehm says she has always loved to dance and thinks it is a great workout for her and Salyer. She says they dance at Medical Fitness every Monday and also practice at her house.
Castleman and Fields say they have a great time being the “helpers” of line dance instruction at Medical Fitness. “We kind of have to go along with the pace of what everybody can do,” Fields says. They also agreed that the fellowship with other people is nice. “We’re just having fun,” Castleman says.
Tallent says that the group of dancers plans to show off their new moves and dancing skills on Tuesday, Jan. 12, in the hospital auditorium, for the new-year Medical Fitness party.
For more information on the Blount Memorial Medical Fitness Center, go to www.blountmemorial.org, or call 865-977-5636.