By Katie Coleman
Taking care of your health is not just a physical endeavor. Emotional and social wellness are imperative for a healthy life too. Now a unique opportunity in Buffalo combines line dancing, mindfulness, and nutrition as a creative way for people to take care of themselves.
The Hustle for Health group fitness program was founded in 2012 and offers free aerobic line dancing classes to clients in the Buffalo area ranging from eight to 80-years-old. Classes are set to original, instructional dance music created by Sam “DJ Maestro” Anderson, who grew up in the Detroit techno scene and wanted to reach a new audience.
“Hustle for Health is unique because it’s cool,” said Jennifer. “Jazzy T” Williams, co-founder and community outreach director for Hustle for Health programs, says, “We took something you’d do in a nightclub and brought it to community centers, schools, and churches. You can take these classes and get exercise, entertainment, and a bonding experience.”
Every class starts with mindfulness: breathing and centering exercises as well as a positive affirmation. This sets the tone of the class to create a supportive environment for everyone to exercise in together. Jazzy said sometimes people start out feeling competitive and isolated, but those notions are immediately squashed by starting each class this way, with a mindset that everyone is there for each other. “You need to see the world as being for you and not against you, and take responsibility for your life instead of being a victim of your circumstances. Whatever you think about, you bring about,” Jazzy said.
Hustle for Health has had a special impact on seniors in the community. In a recent survey, 15 out of 20 elder participants said they felt consistently better since starting the classes. One 60-year-old woman who had significant chronic pain and required the use of a cane to walk began coming to classes. She would just sit and watch, but slowly started interacting with the group to try line dancing. Now she doesn’t have to use her cane, joins in dancing with everyone else, and has even lost five pounds. “Being part of a group like this is huge for seniors,” Jazzy said. “It gives them something to live for and helps with feelings of isolation. Hustle for Health makes them part of a community, and helps with their overall will to live.”
When you make exercise fun you’re more likely to do it. Hustle for health welcomes all ages and fitness levels to one of their free classes. There are different themed classes such as the cancer survivor slide or birthday slide, and instructors are matched to the demographic of the group. It’s all about relationships and being positive, letting go and having fun. Jazzy is currently seeking local nutrition partners to provide food samples at Hustle for Health events and classes. To learn more or get involved, go to www.hustleforhealth.com, or call (716) 404-9444.