How About Dancing to Stay Young?
One of the common secrets of Centenarians is that they took extraordinary measures to stay Physically and Mentally Healthy. Dancing addresses both. And it is so much fun.
Abe Goldberg has used ballroom dancing as his mode of exercise for more than thirty years. “I danced my way through my eighties, nineties, on my 100th birthday and every year since then.”
Claire Willi, Star Pupil
Claire at 100 was a star pupil at Milton Feher Dance Studio. She says she felt old at seventy. She had never exercised or walked for pleasure. She realized she was beginning to stoop and shuffle. She overheard a conversation about dancing and began attending classes three times a week. At 100, she attributes her training with Milton to keeping her healthy, beautiful and graceful.
http://a.co/3PiWSmk for Lynn Adler’s book.
In my search for more information on Claire, I came across this excerpt from Lynn Adler’s Centenarians: The Bonus Years (one of my favorite Centenarian books). The italics and bold words are my markings:
On Physical Mobility
…” We are physically fit when we have the heart and lung (aerobic) capacity to pump oxygen to the muscles, sufficient muscle strength to accomplish reasonable tasks, and flexibility in the joints to permit movement. When it comes to maintaining physical mobility, the simple axiom “use it or lose it” says it all.
… In New York City, former professional dancer Milton Feher has also developed a combination of exercise, relaxation, and dance that he has been teaching for almost fifty years. Milton was forced to retire from the Broadway stage in 1941 due to arthritis in his knees. “It happened all of a sudden,” he tells. Milton’s very successful career, performing in such popular shows as Song of Norway and I’d Rather be Right by George M. Cohan, was cut short in its prime by the affliction that limits so many older people. “I then developed a way to cure myself after I gave up on doctors,” he explains, “and I’ve been teaching people of all ages ever since. The concept is to relax into a straight line and to keep the body centered. The problem people have, and the reason so many older people fall, is that people are moving their weight off their feet. The key is to always feel that your body is resting on your feet and not let it get away from you. It sounds simple, but it takes concentration and practice.”
Milton’s star pupil, Claire Willi, 100, credits his work with her over the last thirty years to getting her to the century mark. “There are two things that older people fear most,” she confides, “falling apart and falling down. Exercising regularly, learning how to use one’s body correctly, in balance, and using relaxation techniques improve flexibility and coordination and help with both. Exercise keeps you younger, no matter what your chronological age,” Claire says with certainty, and from experience.
At age seventy, Claire, who emigrated from Switzerland almost fifty years earlier, felt old. She never exercised, tired easily, and never walked for pleasure because her feet hurt when she did. She was starting to stoop and shuffle her feet when she moved and used a small pillow under her dress to hide her swayed back. A beautiful woman, Claire minded the changes that age was bringing. She had led an exciting life, happily married to one of the largest champagne dealers in New York and was a celebrated hostess. Her career, she says, was helping her husband by entertaining and running their personal life, managing their schedules and their three homes in Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York. It bothered her tremendously that at seventy she felt like an old woman and beyond hope.
Quite coincidentally, while in a health food restaurant in her neighborhood near Carnegie Hall, she overheard a waitress tell another customer about the marvelous dance lessons she was taking, which not only invigorated her and improved her posture but also relaxed her. “My ears perked up at this,” Claire recalls.
She made her way to the Milton Feher School of Dance and Relaxation on West Fifty-eighth Street, located in an apartment building she could see from her building. There, above the din of city traffic, she began attending classes three times a week plus some individual lessons. Claire has been a regular student ever since. She attributes Milton’s training to what now keeps her healthy, beautiful, and graceful at age 100. She wears a leotard and leggings and her body is trim and shapely. Claire and Milton, an octogenarian, have been featured in numerous magazines over this last decade as a true success story, including Prevention Magazine (January, 1992) in an article entitled “Dance Away Arthritis Pain!”
“Claire has succeeded in staving off the loss of mobility that so often accompanies advanced age. She keeps up with people half her age in the one-hour dance class, and afterward, as has been her practice for these thirty years, she takes a long walk in Central Park,” Milton tells. Claire advises, “It’s never too late to begin.” ~ from Centenarians: The Bonus Years
John and I Started Dancing
Several years ago…..I think a couple of years before our 50th Anniversary, John and I ventured into some group dance lessons. It was a really fun avenue of exercise to us. It was also mentally challenging. A few months before our anniversary, we decided to have a dinner dance. We hired Ben De La Vega to choreograph and teach us a waltz. Ben was so good that we continued these private lessons after the anniversary performance was over. The picture you see above is John and I on a trip with friends dancing in a beautiful ballroom in Indianapolis at the Roof Top Ballroom. It is fun to dance and really fun to share this experience with friends.
Have You Thought About Dancing?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Have you checked into any group lessons in your area? Ben at PJ’s Dancetique is the best teacher in the DFW Metroplex, we think.
Learn more about How to Stay Young for a very long time with my Ebook and Workbook: The Pathway to Living Long and Strong. It’s one thing to know what to do. This Ebook and Workbook will take you in baby steps into the doing part or your knowing.