Salsa fit is a challenge for squad

The penultimate week of Spring Into Summer brought 20 Star readers a fun challenge - to learn salsa dancing. To maximise the energy levels, the instructor built in body conditioning exercises too, for a salsa-cise class.

By Tracey Sparling

The penultimate week of Spring Into Summer brought 20 Star readers a fun challenge - to learn salsa dancing. To maximise the energy levels, the instructor built in body conditioning exercises too, for a salsa-cise class.

Features editor TRACEY SPARLING reports on how the squad coped.

WE were dancing sexy 'mambos' and 'Susie qs', with our energy pulsing to the beat of the music…

Well, that's what we were aiming for. In reality, our legs were getting in a tangle as we tried to follow the fast pace, and our hips were not used to wiggling quite this much. The Spring Into Summer squad's attempt to salsa dance, was more of a fun session accompanied by giggles - and amazed expressions at the instructor's skill.

No matter how hard we tried, dancer Lynn Turner always seemed to be a step ahead. But then she admitted she has had 26 years practice, so we relaxed, and threw off our inhibitions to enjoy the challenge.

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Several women in the squad seemed to take to the beat naturally, but for the rest of us - men included - it was an intense lesson in concentration and coordination. Lynn's salsa-fit class was a mix body conditioning and salsa dancing. A warm up got the blood flowing and strengthened our arms and legs, then we learned salsa routines to upbeat music, followed by a cool down mixture of yoga and pilates.

We broke into a sweat, and it surprised many people to find out how much energy they burned off. Joanne Barry, 36, from Euston Avenue, Rushmere St Andrew, seemed to have forgotten the tri aerobics session of week three, as she said: “That's probably the most exercise we've done for ages!”

Rob Willows, 36, from Pinmill Close, Ipswich, said afterwards: “I can feel it in my legs. I didn't expect salsa dancing to be such a good workout.”

Lynn met a former schoolgirl pupil in squad member Carol Szyszlyk, 39, from Maybury Road, Ipswich and Carol said she'd enjoyed the class.

Lynn's workouts are lively, relaxed and friendly classes, suitable for adults of all ages and abilities. Some of the health and fitness benefits of salsa dancing, are weight loss and muscle gain, boosting your physical endurance and range of motion, while learning fun dance steps. It also burns the calories without any harmful side effects caused by high impact exercises such as running. By using salsa dancing to get fit, you will not only look great, but may provide a reason to get out more and improve your social life.

As the group dispersed, several people took leaflets to find our more about the classes on offer.

Lynn said: “They were all good sports, they were nice and relaxed and looked like they were enjoying the music. Dance doesn't come naturally to people, when we learn the steps we can have fun at the same time and feel good about it. It should leave you with the feelgood factor.”

Dance Workout classes are held at Northgate Arts Centre, Sidegate Lane West in Ipswich, from 1.30pm to 2.45pm on Monday afternoons in June. Cost£4, £3 concession. You can join at any class this term, and need to wear white-soled trainers and comfortable clothes. For more details call DanceEast on 01473 639230 or see www.danceeast.co.uk.

Tango/salsa classes are held at Westgate Ward Social Club, in Prospect Road (off Bramford Road) in Ipswich every Wednesday night. Tango runs from 7pm to 8pm, salsa beginners/warm up until 8.15pm and intermediates until 9pm, with Club Dance 10pm to 11pm. Dress to impress or jeans are fine but wear smooth soled shoes and no trainers. Classes are £4/£6 for both. Call 01473 422622.

At 24, administrator Faye Kent from Barham is the youngest Spring Into Summer member this year. She signed up to lend moral support to her fiance's mum Sally Gaffer, and found herself challenged too.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with Spring Into Summer?

A: I hope to achieve the motivation to keep fit, and to try out new fitness ideas that I wouldn't have usually thought of trying.

Q: What stopped you keeping fit in the past?

A: Time and lack of motivation to get up and do something.

Q: Have you tried any sports before, and if so, how did you find them?

A: I have played netball before but as it is usually during the week in the evenings - it is difficult to find the time to play. I have also been to the gym but I find it boring and hard to stick to.

Q: How are you getting on with the group?

A: Very well, I have found everyone really friendly and supportive throughout.

Q: Is weight loss part of your aim? If so, how have you tried before and did you fail or succeed?

A: My main aim is to get fit and to continue to do some fitness, if I lose a bit of weight through doing it however it would be a bonus.

Q: What is your favourite food - and is it good for you?

A: Indian Food! I love chicken tikka masala and I know that it really isn't good for me so I am trying to cut down slowly.

Q: How has the nutrition advice helped you?

A: The nutrition advice has been very helpful, to help me look at where I can improve my diet and the portion sizes which I should be aiming for.

Q: How have you found Spring Into Summer so far?

A: I have found the programme really good fun, and I look forward to finding out what we are doing each time. Some parts have been challenging, but it would have been less fun if everything had been easy.

Q: Which event has been your favourite so far, and why?

A: Salsa - it is something that I always wanted to try and it was really good fun as well as extremely good exercise.

Q: Which event has been the biggest challenge for you, and why?

Go Ape (treetop challenge). I was really scared throughout the whole event and didn't think that I was going to be able to do it as I am scared of heights. However I managed to do four out of the five courses thanks to the help of the instructor, and so was really proud of myself.

Q: What have you gained from the programme?

A: I think I have become more confident and am willing to try other sports that I wouldn't normally have thought of doing. I also now have the motivation to keep fit, and realise how important exercise and healthy eating is to my health. I have also enjoyed spending time with the group, who have been great.

Sally Gaffer from Leggatt Drive in Bramford has made friends she will miss after Spring Into Summer ends. The 50-year-old office worker loved most events, but found Go Ape! the biggest challenge.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with Spring Into Summer?

A: I hope to become more confident and to increase my fitness level.

Q: What stopped you keeping fit in the past?

A: Lack of time and stuck in a rut with everyday routine.

Q: Have you tried any sports before, and if so, how did you find them?

A: I have tried step, pilates and kick aerobics before but have never had the staying power to keep at it.

Q: How are you getting on with the group?

A: Very well, they are a good bunch of people, and I will miss them when it is all over.

Q: Is weight loss part of your aim? If so, how have you tried before and did you fail or succeed?

A: Yes losing weight is part of my aim. I have tried to lose weight before but have always put it back on. I find it harder to lose weight as I have got older and I am hoping that exercise may help.

Q: What is your favourite food - and is it good for you?

A: It would be easier to say what I don't like! But I try to stay to low fat and low sugar. Sometimes it is hard though.

Q: How has the nutrition advice helped you?

A: It has made me think about what I should be eating.

Q: How have you found Spring Into Summer so far?

A: Good fun, I have done things I never would have thought about doing if not as part of the group.

Q: Which event has been your favourite so far, and why?

A: I have enjoyed most things, but mostly tri-aerobics, cycling (although it was tiring) and salsa.

Q: Which event has been the biggest challenge for you, and why?

A: Go Ape. I didn't really do much of it. Leading up to it I had sleepless nights and very nearly chickened out, but enjoyed cheering others on.

Q: What have you gained from the programme?

A: I have built confidence and motivation, am hopefully a bit fitter and have met some great people. Thanks to everyone who organised it.

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