By Trudy Sherman
I was born late in 1955, while the phenomenon of the Baby Boom was still in full swing. Six years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer, a diagnosis I am pretty sure every Boomer out there, or someone close to them, has received. I am pleased to say I survived. Several months into treatment, I held my own life review. I found only one regret: I had quit dancing in my twenties.
I would not say I was in bad shape when the cancer struck, but I was at least 50 pounds overweight, my knees were giving me trouble going up and down the stairs, and my Achilles tendon had recently been damaged on a hike. Both of the doctors that I consulted were confident that the injury was permanent and that I would need inserts in my shoes the rest of my life to support the arch that was now falling.
For Christmas, as part of my cancer recovery, my husband got us ballroom dance lessons. To be clear, he had never danced before, so this was a foray into a scary and unknown territory for him. After a few months of lessons, we both invested in dance shoes. Mine had flat heels and were half a size bigger than usual so my inserts would fit. Even with the flat shoes and the inserts, the rise and fall for waltz were painful and the larger backward steps for tango were nearly impossible without tears. We took it slow and easy.
There were social dances at the studio where we took lessons. We got to know people. I started going to group lessons on the afternoons I had off. I had not known before that most ballroom classes do not require a partner. Little by little, my belly was shrinking, something I didn’t even notice until someone paid me a compliment. Then one day I forgot to bring my inserts to class. I danced without them and had no pain. After a little thought, I realized I couldn’t really remember the last time I had pain in my Achilles heel. I never wore the inserts again.
At about the 18-month point in dancing, I got serious and started taking private lessons. My husband and I still took our lessons, but I took additional lessons on my own. I learned a rumba and cha cha routine which I performed at a studio show. And then, before I knew it, I was dancing in competitions (and winning medals). I got shoes with heels – not big heels, but quite respectable heels.
I have now lost 40 pounds. I can go up and down the stairs quickly and painlessly. I can jump! That was not on my bucket list, but there it is. My balance and ability to do turns amazes me. I enjoy dancing with my husband. We waltz and tango with the best of them. It is a fun exercise to do together that seems so much more like fun than exercise.
So Boomers, if you have even the slightest inkling of a desire to try dancing, I say, “It’s time to get out there and boogie!”