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Line dancing provides stress-free exercise

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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

While vacations and cold and flu season cut the number of dancers at Needham’s Center at the Heights, the enthusiasm did not seem diminished in any way as Hsiu-Hui Chen led her pupils through stretching exercises, “The Cupid Shuffle,” and a John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”-inspired number for the better part of an hour.

Chen, who is also a black belt teacher in the Art of Nia, a “holistic fitness practice” that combines dance, martial arts and mindfulness, led the group through the workout, aided by a wide variety of pop, Latin and country music ranging from Santana’s “Smooth” to The Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive.”

Chen performs the steps to teach the class.

Chen performs the steps to teach the class.

While there is no final performance at the end of the weekly class, for those who engage the class, the benefits go far beyond an increased ability to dance. As participants Marvin and Lenore Metter explained, line dancing acts as an exercise for both the mind and body.

“It’s a great exercise for the body because of all the moving, but it also involves your brain because while you’re dancing, you have to think about it.”

According to the Metters, despite the ages of those involved and the exercise involved, they’ve never seen someone have to sit out half the class. In fact, they think line dancing is great due to its low stress on the body.

“One advantage of the dancing is that it’s easy on the body parts. It’s not stressful on the body or jarring in any way.”

It’s also not boring, like other forms of exercise can be.

A turn is one tool in the line dancer’s repertoire.

A turn is one tool in the line dancer’s repertoire.

While the line dancing class was taking place, a man appeared uninspired as he rode a stationary bicycle in the fitness room. The Metters, as well as anyone watching the line dancing class, had to wonder why more people wouldn’t join in the class.

Kool and the Gang famously asked: “How you gonna do it if you really don't want to dance, by standing on the wall?”

So far, the class hasn’t used that song - but for Needham’s seniors too nervous to join the class, its principles remain.

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