A great-grandmother is
living proof that you really can be ‘young at heart’ no matter how old you are – by still
attending dance classes.
Betty Thomson (92), from East Dunbartonshire, has always enjoyed staying fit.
She joined the Kirkintilloch branch of the Women’s League of Health and Beauty, a mass fitness movement established in the 1930s by Mary Bagot Stack, back in 1942.
That was when she was 18 and she is still a member, although it’s now called ‘The Fitness League’.
She also takes part in weekly ‘Young at Heart’ dance classes for the over 50s – run by Natasha Guinnessy at Kessington Hall, in Bearsden.
Betty has always enjoyed dancing, having learned tap, ballet, ballroom and Latin American over the years.
Since Betty’s husband passed away a number of years ago, she has also encouraged her daughter Karyn to learn to dance to improve her confidence - so she goes with Betty to the classes.
Teacher Natasha Guinnessy became aware of the need to keep the over 60s active through dancing while working as a Dance Development Officer in North and South Lanarkshire over the last eight years.
She said: “Dancing is a great way to exercise at any age, but as we get older it’s a wonderful way to keep active and mobile.
“The Young at Heart Dance classes are taught in a relaxed and friendly environment and encourage everyone to join in no matter what their ability is.
“The classes are sociable, great fun but also challenging and very rewarding.”
Betty, who has three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, aged 5 and 7, started attending Natasha’s class last year.
She said: “Movement to music is life! It does such a lot for you.
“It gives you such a lift, you feel so good after it.
“I’ve been dancing since I was small.
“I think it helps people a lot in many ways, it’s a marvellous thing.”
A typical Young at Heart Dance class starts with several warm up exercises that ‘wake up’ the body - very important for mobilising joints, stimulating circulation, encouraging better posture and good alignment.
Once you are ‘warmed up and activated’ participants move on to learning simple dance routines.
They learn everything from salsa, meringue, swing, waltz, line dance and Charleston, as well as ballet and contemporary moves.
Natasha added: “This is not only good for coordination, balance and general fitness but it is also a great workout for the brain as it involves memorising short movement sequences that are then developed over a few weeks.”