Fun, fitness and new friends are as close as Westsyde Squares, offering a free introductory session for new dancers Sept. 13.

5 ways to build fun, fitness and friendship into your fall routine

Step and spin to your new favourite activity with free Westsyde Squares dance intro Sept. 13.

Fun, fitness and friendship – does a new activity get any better than that?

Celebrating 60 years as a club, the Westsyde Squares host a free introductory square dance session Sept. 13 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Westbank United Church Hall. “We teach new dancers every September. Come try it for free, then we hope we’ll see you back Sept. 20 when the 12-week fall session starts,” says club president Lynda Bjalek.

A second session builds on the basics from January to April. “After that, they’ll be able to dance anywhere!”

  1. Get fit while having fun – The science is simple: If we want to move well, we have to move. Sedentary living can lead to a whole host of health problems, from chronic disease to difficulty with daily tasks like walking or climbing stairs. Despite this, Statistics Canada reports that just over 2 in 10 adults meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommending 150 minutes of accumulated weekly activity. Square dancing gets you off the couch and enjoying a low-impact cardio activity that engages the entire body, notes Lynda, who at one event counted 40,000 steps danced!
  2. Friendship – Isolation can be one of the biggest challenges for adults of all ages. Whether through an “empty nest,” moving to a new community, loss of a spouse, or retirement, life changes can make meeting new friends and building community connections challenging. The Westsyde Squares have a solution for that, welcoming both singles and couples, notes member Mary Potter.
  3. Fun for all ages – Square dancing attracts enthusiasts of all ages, from competitive teens to seniors staying active with friends. And forget a playlist full of Red River Valley – today’s dance music includes Broadway favourites, modern pop songs and more, plus energetic calling by 26-year-old musician Dustin McGifford. “I’ve been dancing for 30 years. When I worked it was my stress release and now it’s just a way to have fun,” Lynda says.
  4. No experience needed – Mary danced as a teen and enjoyed returning to the social activity, but dance experience is not required. “It’s very accessible. You don’t have to know how to dance to do this, you just need to be able to move to the music. There’s also individualization with it too – and you don’t need to wear a crinoline and a flared skirt if you don’t want to.”
  5. Travel – If travel appeals, there’s lots of opportunity. “We travel together to other club dances, we camp and have outdoor events in the summer,” says Lynda, noting the group has welcomed callers and dancers from Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Australia and beyond. Of course, if you prefer to do-si-do closer to home, that’s great too!

What you need to know:

The cost for new dancers is $120 for 12 sessions between Sept. 20 and Dec. 13. All you need is comfortable clothing and non-marking shoes. Learn more at westsyde.squaredance.bc.ca.

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