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Exercising bodies and minds

Suffolk seniors are stepping and learning new dance moves this fall.

From 11 a.m. to noon on Thursdays, seniors can learn simple line dances to keep active at the East Suffolk Recreation Center, 138 S. Sixth St.

Mother-and-son duo Evelyn and Mark Wall lead this beginner’s class of line dancers, returning to their usual regimen after about 18 months off due to the pandemic. They also teach more advanced classes throughout the week, but this one is for all levels who want to get moving. With most of the participants over the age of 60, this program helps seniors stay active and alert — and it helps their mind just as much as their body.

“You can’t just watch the steps,” Evelyn Wall said. “You have to think and keep your mind active.”

Evelyn leads the Sophisticated Steppers on Monday nights. Some of her regular steppers attend this beginners class in their Sophisticated Steppers shirts to give others another pair of feet to watch while learning the dances.

“It’s a popular class and very low impact,” said Melissa Crook, fitness specialist at East Suffolk Recreation Center. “They enjoy it, and they make it their own as they learn more.”

The class starts with a review of the dances learned the previous week. The line dances consist of simple steps, including salsa, grapevine, cha-cha and mambo. Each dance is to an R&B song like “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. The class watches the steps with the music and then gets a step-by-step lesson on the dance before putting it all together.

The class is streamed on Facebook Live from Suffolk Park and Recreation’s account to give people at home a taste of what they can experience coming in person. This is also an option to dance at home for seniors who don’t feel comfortable coming out. The class does take proper precautions, with the majority of the class vaccinated, and everyone is distanced with masks.

Even though the class is geared towards seniors, anyone is welcome to join in the fun. The cost is $10 for all six weeks or $2 for each class.

“We’re really working on having diverse programs for all walks of life,” said Crook.