Line dancing new fitness fave
By DONNA VICKROY email@example.com June 6, 2012 11:34PM
Marjorie Jones, 63, of Crete, smiles while stay in the groove in the line dancing for fitness class at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Homewood. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Push your tush
Ginny Coppess, a member of the
National Teachers Association, offers classes 10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Paul Community Church, 18200 Dixie Highway, Homewood, and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays (starting July 2) at the Park Forest Village Hall, 350 Victory Drive, Park Forest. Drop-in fee at both places is $2. More information is available at (708) 306-2785.
Updated: July 8, 2012 6:50PM
It’s Wednesday morning, and in the basement of Homewood’s St. Paul Community Church, they’re tearing up the linoleum.
“You don’t even realize you’re exercising,” said Pam Vasquez, her black jazz shoes one-two-ing the County Line Cha Cha to the strains of Al Green’s “I’m So Tired of Being Alone.”
This is line dancing 2.0. Or, as many of the participants will say, it’s fun masquerading as a workout.
“It’s great exercise, and I hate exercise,” said Vasquez, 62, of Steger.
She joined about 30 women who meet regularly to dance away the calories, the stress and even the disconnectedness that can come with retirement. Line dancing does not require a partner or previous experience. Nor do participants need any special clothing, gear or even shoes. Some show up in sneakers, others dance in cowboy boots.
Ginny Coppess has been teaching line dance classes in the south suburbs since 1988. Coppess and her husband George also teach two-step, basic swing and couples dances.
But it’s line dancing, she said, that is enjoying the biggest comeback — particularly among the middle-aged and seniors.
“It’s not just country music anymore, and it’s not just for parties,” Coppess said. The dancers step, swing and sway to rock, opera, soul, even the blues.
Some, including Judy Rieke, 67, of Matteson, take classes five days a week with various local instructors.
“I’ve been doing this on and off for 20 years now, but more regularly for the past three years,” Rieke said. “It stimulates the brain and makes you sweat up a storm.”
“I just love the music,” said Arnetta Armstrong, 59, of Park Forest. “I love meeting with all the other women.”
Her favorite dance is the popular Jo N Jo Tango.
That’s Marjorie Jones’ favorite, as well.
“Line dancing is wonderful for your health. It keeps you strong and helps you stay limber,” said Jones, of Crete. “It’s the best thing to happen to people my age because we can do it three days a week. It’s easy and it’s fun. Before you know it, an hour and a half is gone.”
After they sign in and plunk down their two bucks, Coppess hands each participant the day’s playlist. Dances, such as Cut A Rug and the Electric Slide are performed to different songs. Sometimes the dancers sing along, such as when “Love Lifted Me” is played.
Beginning July 2, Coppess also will teach a class on Monday evenings in Park Forest.
Doris Markowski, of Lansing, just started the classes a few months ago. Already she’s gone from a size 14 to a size 6.
“I got tired of walking the mall,” she said. “At first it was awkward but Ginny’s such a good teacher, I caught on fast.”
Lovingly called “the grasshopper” because of her high spirited moves, Christine Meyer, 58, said a line dancing workout reaps the same benefits as Zumba or aerobics.
Dancing, said the South Chicago Heights resident, requires a whole bunch of moves, not that anyone is judging, let alone watching.
“It’s a wonderful group,” she said. “Even when we mess up, we have fun.”
Genevieve Sako is proof you don’t have to be a spring chicken to participate. The Highland, Ind., resident will turn 90 in July. A friend told her about the classes three months ago.
“I’ve been dancing for 70 years. Ballroom, square dancing, polka,” she said. “Now I’m a line dancer, too.”