“We want to keep the older adult population moving, but in a way that is innovative and different. Basing it on dance and incorporating the artistic elements are such important parts of what we do,” said Vanessa Woods, founder, Vitality in Motion.
Vitality in Motion is an organization that creates and implements dance-based exercise programs tailored for older adults. They offer their programs – like Vitality Stretch Yoga – in communities throughout Missouri, including The Village at Mackenzie Place in Affton, a Lutheran Senior Services affordable housing community.
All of Vitality in Motion’s 35 instructors are trained in dance. “Just doing traditional repetitive movement is important, but maybe not super fun or engaging,” said Vanessa. “Our programs incorporate dance choreography patterns. So, it’s not only physically engaging but mentally engaging as well.”
Each exercise class blends dance, music, and movements that are important for strengthening and stretching and keeping older adults fit. Participants learn movements that when put together in succession are truly a choreographed dance. “Rather than just sitting and doing arm circles, we can accomplish the same things – working on range of movement, on healing rotator cuff injuries – while having an artistic element,” said Vanessa. “There is intentionality. These are not just random movements. I feel like it makes it more meaningful for participants.”
The Village at Mackenzie Place hosts a weekly Vitality Stretch Yoga class. “It’s well received,” said Melita Hodzic, Director of Service Coordination.
Residents like Linda Makarewicz love the benefits they receive from taking the class, especially when it has helped with relaxation and mobility. “I can move my neck now much better. That’s the biggest thing for me.”
“When the class is over, I feel more relaxed,” said Judy Ullrich. “I learned to breathe correctly!”Theresa Simpson agreed, “I feel like I can tackle the rest of the day. I do the breathing when I’m stressed now.”
Vitality in Motion created a video about their program and included some Village at Mackenzie Place residents. Check it out here!