Share This Page

All-Abilities program in Bethel Park teaches dance steps that everyone can learn

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Lynne Squilla (center) leads an Improvement through Movement class at Locke's Personal Fitness Monday, September 9, 2013.

Fran Watona had never taken an exercise class in the past. Patti Murphy had always loved music and dance but had physical disabilities.

The women signed up for All-Abilities Movement, a class given by Improvement thru Movement, and are enjoying exercising to music.

“I love it,” said Murphy, 52, of South Park. “Exercise has always been a part of my life … I swear by movement,” which she thinks has helped her retain her abilities.

Murphy has cerebral palsy but does not need a wheelchair.

“It's just a fun class; it's great exercise,” said Watona, 60, of Castle Shannon. “It's low-impact, dancing to music … This has been a very good experience.”

Improvement thru Movement, which dance instructor Janet Furtney of South Park owns, holds the All-Abilities Movement class at Locke's Personal Fitness in Bethel Park.

Furtney teaches classical ballet, ballroom dancing and other classes through her studio, which has no space of its own.

A year ago, Furtney became a certified Masala Bhangra ambassador and recently added Masala Bhangra and Bollywood steps from India to the All-Abilities Movement routines.

“It's unique,” Furtney said. “We created (All-Abilities Movement) ourselves.”

Furtney said Improvement thru Movement plans to demonstrate the program next week in a senior citizens' residence.

“Unlike Zumba, we really do the dance steps to the music,” said instructor Lynne Squilla, 56, of Mt. Washington. The class has been around for about three years and combines dance steps such as cha-cha, Broadway show combinations, Russian and other ethnic folk dances with Tai Chi, yoga poses and light free weights. Squilla said the aim is to improve breathing, stamina and strength.

If the music calls for cha-cha, “we really do cha-cha,” Squilla said.

“It's not just aerobics. We do swing numbers and the Lindy Hop, but you don't need a partner.”

“Nobody needs any dance experience to take this class,” Furtney said. “It's a fabulous workout.”

To increase the fun factor, Squilla has the students use top hats, derbies, canes, feathered masks and other props.

“We try to keep it interesting,” she said. “It's not as high-impact as some of the other programs, but there's a lot less pounding. It's a solid hour of this stuff. We always do weight-bearing exercises to hip-hop (music). Sometimes at the end, we use ballet to cool down and get stretched out. It's based on all the (dance) disciplines that are out there.”

Murphy gave Squilla high marks for “knowing about people and letting them decide” how far to exert themselves.

“Lynne is one of a kind; she really knows her stuff,” Murphy said.

“She really makes the class fun,” Watona said.

Although many class members are women 35 and older, men and women have taken the program, including a male high school student. Murphy said the class members have a good deal of camaraderie.

“It's good for you physically and emotionally; it's good for the soul, too,” Watona said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.