Ballet-inspired fitness program gives Johnson County seniors chance to move

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A fitness program aimed at older adults has some Johnson Countians moving and grooving.

Vitality in Motion, a program specializing in “artistic exercise for lifelong wellness,” is expanding through senior living facilities across the county and now offers classes at more than a dozen Johnson County senior living facilities.

It’s dance classes in long-term care facilities

  • Vitality in Motion classes involve roughly 45 minutes of “ballet-infused” exercises that can be done either sitting or standing.
  • They currently offer weekly classes at about 15 senior living facilities in Johnson County — in addition to facilities in Missouri, where the program originated.
  • Some facilities, such as Town Village in Leawood and Novel Place in Overland Park, started their programs within the past few months. Others, such as Mission Chateau in Prairie Village, have offered it for years.
  • “We have a lot of (Johnson County) facilities that are looking at bringing in our program,” said Vitality in Motion founder Vanessa Woods. “We’re definitely going to continue to grow.”
Vitality in Motion senior ballet
Vitality in Motion, a ballet-focused fitness program aimed at older adults has several Johnson Countians moving and grooving.

Vitality in Motion wants to make dancing accessible

Woods, a classical trained ballet dancer, began Vitality in Motion 10 years ago in St. Louis as a side gig between stints performing professionally on stage.

After teaching ballet to younger children, Woods said she quickly saw her students’ enjoyment and wondered who else could benefit from the same type of musical movement.

Woods said the benefits for seniors are twofold: It’s fun, for starters, but it is also good for improving balance and engaging the brain.

“Part of the creativity of it is, how do we make ballet — which people associate with turns and jumps and leaps — how do we make that authentically available to our older adult population?” Wood said. “As we get older, we can get a little bit hesitant to push ourselves in new ways and learn new things. It’s almost like breaking down barriers.”

There are hopes to expand the program

Thelma Greenberg, a resident at Meadowbrook Senior Living in Prairie Village, called the classes there “absolute fun.”

She said the appeal is not just in the dancing itself, but in being able to motivate each other by doing it as a group.

“We want to move, and how many of us do it in our apartment?” She said. “I’ve got to have a group to get the motivation going. It’s free physical therapy.”

Meanwhile, Woods said Vitality in Motion wants to keep growing in Johnson County and says they are talking to other local senior car facilities about possibly adding classes.

Go deeper: Find more information about the program here.

About the author

Lucie Krisman
Lucie Krisman

Hi! I’m Lucie Krisman, and I cover local business for the Johnson County Post.

I’m a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, but have been living in Kansas since I moved here to attend KU, where I earned my degree in journalism. Prior to joining the Post, I did work for The Pitch, the Eudora Times, the North Dakota Newspaper Association and KTUL in Tulsa.