Ed Griffith is one of three Soul Line Dance instructors at San Diego Oasis who lead packed classes of joyful dancers, no gym required.
“The course is totally stress-free,” he explains. “Everyone comes and has a good time. They love being around each other and encouraging each other.”
The dances include country and western steps as well as specific soul line dances set to R&B, jazz, Latin and gospel. “We don’t wait for the music to control us,” Ed chuckles, “we just dance away.”
His students report weight loss as well as improvements in their memory and endurance. But it’s the stress-relief and camaraderie that keeps them coming back. “It’s fun rather than intimidating,” Ed notes. “It’s something to look forward to each week.”
Mind, Body & Spirit
That’s exactly how Rhonda Wright’s students feel about her Non-Impact Aerobics (NIA) class at Rochester Oasis, in New York. NIA is a whole body approach to fitness that blends elements from dance, martial arts and yoga.
“NIA isn’t about memorizing,” Rhonda explains. “It encourages you to be in the moment, to increase awareness of the body and to experience the joy of movement. In this safe space, people experience a powerful feeling of being accepted and supported.”
Now in her 17th year teaching NIA at Oasis, Rhonda relishes the growth she sees in her students. “I’ve seen improvements in balance, strength and flexibility,” she says. “I’ve seen their confidence grow as they try new moves. I’ve heard their laughter as we challenge ourselves. And I’ve seen friendships grow.”
While she’s always learning something new from her students, Rhonda says she will always remember one in particular.
“After a long illness, I noticed one of my students back in class,” she recalls. “She arrived at class and told me she was just going to sit in a chair and soak it all up. That was her goal for the day: to get up, get ready, drive to class and walk in. In the same situation, I probably would have just stayed home. She taught me something that day. Sometimes, just getting yourself there is enough.”
A pioneer in healthy aging, Oasis encourages a three-fold approach that experts and our participants agree makes getting older interesting and productive: lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement. In 2017, more than 12,500 health and fitness classes were offered nationwide. These programs are made possible with support from a number of funders. For a complete list of partners and funders, click here.
For more information about Oasis health classes, find a city near you and check out a catalog.