'I wanna dance with somebody!' Teacher set to offer classes for Oldham's over-60s

Date published: 25 March 2021

A dance teacher who trained a performer who toured with Whitney Houston is sharing her skills with the elderly in Oldham.

Jayne Jackson is 'saving all her love' for older citizens in Oldham by helping them step-up their fitness, improve their posture and beat isolation through the power and community of dance.

The ballet and dance supremo, who has been dancing since the age of three, has accepted an invitation from South Chadderton GP Dr Anita Sharma to help improve the post-lockdown fitness of older citizens at weekly classes.

And the former actress, who has performed as far afield as Germany and Italy, is going to begin her regime of gentle chair-based routines with lessons on how to bend down properly, rise from a seated position, and breathe to the rhythm of the music.

The last 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people not just feeling isolated but developing poor postures as well as lockdown fatigue.

Jayne, whose mother was also a dancer, said: “There is a power through the art of dance that can lift the spirit and soul, while helping to stand up straight and my years of observations through ballet have taught me how balance is so important to health.”

Dr Sharma echoed the sentiments: “Poor posture can affect any bone or any joint leading to conditions such as arthritis, spondylitis resulting in back and neck pains, rounded shoulders and even osteoporosis leading to increasing fractures. Some of the classic signs of poor posture include having a pot belly, rounded shoulders and a jutted-out neck and chin.

"It can impede the ability of the lungs to expand. Poor posture often stems from modern-day habits like working in front of the computer, slouching on a couch while watching TV or looking at your smart phone. It's never too late to improve.”

Margaret Heywood (84) will be one of the first to take to the floor at the first virtual and then actual sessions. The sprightly chair of the South Chadderton Medical Centre’s Patient Participation Group said: “Obviously since the start of lockdown, I have not been able to go out much. But I have kept my mind busy and am doing a weekly Zoom exercise class. A friend of mine has COPD and hasn’t been out since last March and sometimes you can find yourself slouching on the chair. We must all remember that when it comes to your body you either use it or lose it.”

Research shows that a third of over 60s felt more anxious than they did before the lockdown, whilst 36% were less motivated to do the things they enjoyed most.

Jayne, who has previously run movement classes for adults with learning difficulties, believes that the best way to conquer this ennui is through music and the arts. “Exercise combined with music takes you to a different plain, it takes you out of that place of worry and takes you on another, more positive journey.  As the movie Billy Elliott shows us, dancing sets you free.”

Whilst hospital clinics have run Tai Chi classes for stroke survivors and large clinics make chair exercises part of a patient’s recovery following major surgery, South Chadderton could be amongst the first GP practices in the country to hold movement sessions for older folks. “Prior to lockdown, we used to have a very popular walking group resplendent in their specially designed caps” concluded Dr Sharma, “but I think Jayne’s sessions could prove even more popular. Exercise increases your brain’s endorphins and makes for good health as well as positive, happy minds.”

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