Body & Soul
Boulder dancewalkers just gotta shake it
New Meet-Up blends walking, dancing for street workout
09/24/2012 11:10:10 AM MDT
Lindsay Sworski jokes with Roger Wolsey during a dance walking exercise through downtown Boulder. Colorado Daily/Paul Aiken
A dozen or so young men and women groove down Pearl Street, headphones plugged in, their eyes closed as they move in rhythm down the sidewalk to the silent beats emitted by their iPods.
From the outside, dancewalkers appear to be a shaking it in silence, possibly a little nuts, but having fun nonetheless. On the inside, the sounds of Gotye, Prince and Michael Jackson dictate the pace of the dancers' steps and create an irresistible urge for them to sing or smile.
"Even though it's public, what I love is that it's great exercise," said Lindsay Sworski, 34, who started the Boulder dancewalk group after watching a YouTube video of a man shimmying down the streets of New York City. "It's just like going jogging except you're dancing, and then instead of dancing at night with alcohol in a small space you get to dance out in the sunshine in the middle of the day where you get to take up tons of space."
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Sworski, a massage and dance therapist in Boulder, and a few girlfriends tested the new exercise-style out one day, and loved it so much they founded a MeetUp group online to invite more Boulderites to join.
Soon Sworski had a gaggle of dancewalkers to parade around with downtown.
The premise of dancewalking is simple: grab some tunes, start walking, add dance moves. Jam to hip-hop, or float balletically to something a little softer -- the workout is yours.
The outcome is a completely enjoyable, exhausting workout that attacks muscle groups you didn't even know existed.
"All you need is the desire to dance and the love of music," said 35-year-old Heather Kuhn, a recent dancewalk convert. "It's just so simple, and 'duh.' I don't know why people haven't been doing it."
The group has never gotten a negative reaction while dancewalking. Most of the time people smile and wave. A few drivers crane their necks to get a better look. Being a ham is recommended, but not necessary, Sworski added.
If you live in Boulder, sometimes seeing a group of people jamming silently down the street seems like a normal day, she said. "I'm amazed at the number of people who walk right by us and just don't show anything on their faces," Sworski said.
As a recent transplant from Switzerland, Madeleine Opthof, 37, wasn't sure how to meet new people in Boulder. She's learning to speak Russian, so while dancewalking she listens to Russian "bubblegum pop."
"I think it's an amazing way to start the day," Opthof said. "It just combines for me the love of nature, being outside with the movement, and the sense of community is amazing."
Shannon Baker moved to Boulder from Los Angeles to study somatic counseling psychology at Naropa University. Her 20-year-old cousin died unexpectedly earlier in the summer, and she needed a lift. Dancewalking seemed like the perfect way to release emotions and be around others, she said.
"I felt like this was something I needed to access some joy," said 33-year-old Baker after an early-morning dance walk session. "I was going through a hard time. This was the perfect thing where I could do creative movement, have a sense of community, be playful and get a great workout."
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta