These walkers are for dancing

June 2019
Maureen Bergart

Walkercise is a new dance form offered to the residents of Shalom Village taught by Marmie Wolfson.  

Wolfson began dancing when she was four years old, and has studied ballet, jazz, tap and baton, and she loves to share her knowledge. She had already been teaching a tap dance class at Shalom Village when wellness coordinator, Vanessa Pazzi, asked if Wolfson could put together an exercise and stretching program for residents. 
Wolfson began searching Facebook for ideas and came across a page featuring people using walkers as aids in a dance and movement program. “I can do that,” she thought to herself, and that’s how the idea for Walkercise was born. 
After getting approval and support from both Pazzi and Shalom Village Volunteer Coordinator, Debbie Ginsberg, Wolfson began advertising her program. Five people showed up at her first class, which took place in April. Within a month, it more than doubled. 
The class begins with slow walks forward and back to the music of “Sunny Side of the Street.” Then students progress to movement in a circular direction. Next is leg lifting and tapping movements from side to side. The students are reminded to always hold on to their walkers for balance and stability.  
Wolfson calls out the moves, “Bring your arms up, 2 – 3 – 4; separate your fingers. Which way are we facing?”  
Participant Shirley Levine affirmed how much she enjoys the activity.
“This class brings joy into my life,” she said. “Marmie is a wonderful lady and Shalom Village is lucky to have her.”
“I love to do it.  I love coming here and being with everyone,” said Kathy Laurence. 
Why participate in Walkercise? The answer is simple. The movement is fun. It builds strength, coordination and memory, and is a good cardio workout. Anyone can do it and Wolfson is very encouraging. There is even one participant who is dancing from her wheelchair. It’s invigorating to watch.  
Walkercise is a great alternative to the gym. Wolfson models how her students can lift their legs and do side kicks. 
As the students progress, she will introduce “relevé”, the ballet exercise of rising up on one’s toes. They will also learn to saucily stick out their “derriers” in that sassy movement as they get into the groove.
The program continues to attract new enthusiasts. “This is the first time I’ve joined. It’s absolutely incredible,” said Ruth Vine. 
“It’s a great idea. I’d like to get up and boogie,” said Sylvia Cawker. “I just wish we could dance in our bare feet!”
Laughing along with the group and enjoying himself thoroughly  is Jim Kennelly, the group’s very own Billy Elliott.
Shalom Village’s Walkercize program meets weekly on Wednesdays, usually from 2:30 - 3 p.m. in Samuels in SVToo. Contact Vanessa Pazzi at (905) 529-1613 ext 274 to confirm each week.