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Poulsbo seniors discover a healthy dancing groove

POULSBO — Stanley Thomas used to be quite the ballroom dancer in his day. Now in his 90s, he said he didn’t know if his legs would hold out for a dance, but when Sandy Jackson urged him to pick a song — he didn’t hesitate.

“How about the Darktown Shuffle,” he said, evoking laughter from the group.

Jackson, a local dance teacher, stresses the health benefits of shaking a leg at her weekly Friday afternoon ballroom dancing for seniors at the Poulsbo Athletic Club. She said participants burn between 200 and 300 calories in one dance while getting a pleasant release of endorphins and meeting other people.

“With the club the emphasis is health and exercise for all people. Seniors already exercise there and from that we just decided it would be nice to have something for them to come to,” Jackson said.

A life-long student of dance, Jackson has worked at the PAC for about nine months and said she delights in her senior classes. Many seniors worry that they aren’t strong or agile enough to cut a rug, but Jackson said it’s simply not true.

“I have group lessons Friday nights for everyone and every Friday at noon we have the senior groups and the seniors are in there learning the same steps as everyone else,” Jackson said. “Even if you do a salsa, you can do a slow salsa.”

Husband and wife seniors Jim and Dorothy Rana-Meadows are just one couple who said they’ve found great health and happiness in the class. Married for about nine years, but friends for many more, the duo said they look forward to Jackson’s classes because it’s a good workout and it gives them something social to do.

“We danced off and on for years but she brought us together on this luminous horizon of dancing,” Jim Rana-Meadows said.

The Poulsbo Athletic Club holds senior dances every Friday at noon. For more information, call (360) 779-3285.

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