Who We Are

MOVING FOR LIFE Dance Exercise for Health® is dedicated to helping people challenged by cancer and other serious illnesses, such as obesity, cardio-pulmonary disorders and diabetes, through dance exercise and wellness programs. It also teaches others the healthy lifestyle behaviors that help prevent these diseases. Our classes are offered free to the public throughout Greater New York City and the Hudson River Valley community (i.e., in Kingston, NY). 

Our dance exercise methods are physician-endorsed and  supported by research that confirms engagement in regular aerobic activity can improve quality of life, speed up recovery time, enhance well-being, and reduce the recurrence of cancer and other illness. Dancing to music with a group has been proven to offset depression, increase mental alertness, lift spirits and aid in building friendships.  Classes are currently offered in English and Spanish in the various boroughs of New York City.

MOVING FOR LIFE strives to give all participants the tools to develop their mental and physical well-being through learning how to regularly engage in safe exercise. We teach standing and seated fitness workouts, offer informative lectures, and engage in health and wellness advocacy.

Moving for Life (formerly Moving On Aerobics and Gentle Aerobics) has a 19-year track-record of success, with no reports of injuries.  The programs began with highly-trained Moving For Life teachers volunteering to help women with breast cancer find the joy and positive effects of engaging in gentle but upbeat aerobic movement.  Today, men and women with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and other debilitating illnesses as well as seniors and the general public benefit from MOVING FOR LIFE programs. We partner with hospitals, community agencies, public libraries, and the Ys.  We use culturally sensitive music, compassionate interaction, and best practices from movement science and somatic education (body-mind awareness) to help people shift from a sedentary lifestyle to one that incorporates more movement.

 MOVING FOR LIFE Certified Instructors (MFLCIs) are trained to replicate our programs in other locations. Each teacher is also certified as Cancer Exercise Specialist.  Our MFLCIs reside in cities worldwide including New Jersey, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Tokyo, Amsterdam, and Vancouver.

How We Started

A story from ____:

Moving For Life, initially Moving On Aerobics, was born in 1999 when Alison (Annie) Rosen discovered she had cancer and that even after “being healed” she felt tired, uncomfortable, and unmotivated to get back to work. When she reached out to Jan to help make an exercise video, Jan reached out to me to develop the movement program. At the time I was teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University and was also training people to become movement therapists in my Somatic Movement Therapy Training (SMTT) - now rebranded as Dynamic Embodiment- SMTT.  This was fortunate because my students, now colleagues, were excited by the project too. 

In particular Karen Eubanks, a Teachers College Masters candidate was also studying at  Fitness at Marymount Manhattan College and Bonnie Schiffer, her classmate (now Bonnie McGlynn DeLuca) was studying the power of touch in education.  Karen was generously willing to spend time in the studio with me, an already trained Exercise Physiologist to share some of what she was learning at Marymount. For instance, together we would listen to music to determine what music supported varying heart rates. We found music, much of it provided by Jan Albert, that began with a relaxed easy beat and then put into order that slowly increased the intensity of the work-out.  Ever so slowly and sensitively. Karen and Bonnie shared other music that they loved, bringing in increased diversity amongst the artists – Leon Parker, the Gypsy Kings, and of course, many of these artists have changed over the years as the program grows. I brought in Samba, as I had just come living in Oakland where I participated in weekly Afro-Brazilian Samba classes with Jacquie Barnes. After analyzing the four other DVDs of exercise for cancer survivors I felt strongly that we needed diverse rhythms, from different cultures, fun yet sensitive music and that some social dances should make its way into this program.  At Teachers College Karen was demonstrating one of her wonderful lesson plans as a skilled Dance Educator and it included the Electric Slide. That choice felt brilliant to me. We discussed it benefits of inclusive group activity that set the stage for always including a line dance in each of the Moving For Life classes.  

The rationales for each aspect of our program are strong. This social dance section is the only time in class that we are focused on “getting the steps right” – so that everyone can feel in sync.  Prior to that I ask all of our teachers – Moving For Life Certified Instructors - to lead with a more somatic approach. We cue learners saying things like “Here are ideas, let your body find what feels right” “if you do something different than the rest of the group that is fine, especially if you are listening to your body and following its sensations.”   At the time of developing Moving For Life I was Vice President of the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association and soon thereafter the President. It was important that Moving For Life embodies these somatic values in each class. The very nature of somatic awareness is that it easily can transfer to the student knowing and deciding what is was best for her own health.   This now stands for all of our classes – those with older adults, with men and women and with children. Moving For Life classes are always meant to be careful enough to avoid injury, but active enough to get a good workout – a finely graded rise in heart rate, like Karen and I first explored. One of the last dances before the Electric Slide or other selected culturally matched line dances (we teach in LatinX, Mandarin, Russian and Korean communities too) is an interactive dance.   Karen Eubanks had a wonderful series of phrases choreographed that I asked if we could use that make up the bulk of what we executive in two line facing one another. What is unique about the movements is that they help us to identify coordination capacities in our students – who can organize movement to cross midline, who prefers to stay right-sided or left-sided and other neuro-motor patterns. There are seven other dances in Moving For Life and they progress through an easy and logical development – from breath to body area warm-ups to weight shifting in place (to establish balance) to walking, to more complex walking patterns and the use of resistance bands for strengthening (a tool we had been using in the somatic profession for a decade already).  I tested the program outdoors with my sister and sister-in-law all motivated by the fact that we had lost our mother to cancer just a few years before. They gave great feedback too. Then getting this program into the world took organizational work; I took it to the cancer centers in NYC. I began by reaching out to SHARE Cancer Support and a dear friend of mine suggest I reach out to Gilda’s Club – we have been with them for over 18 years now! Since then various other agencies have reached out to us, noting how gentle but fun the program is, asking us to work with seniors, older adults, men, families and people with metastatic cancer. The work is growing. The only way this growth could happen was with the support of committed teachers. 

Dynamic Embodiment graduates were the first Moving For Life Certified Instructors (MFLCIs). They had all the theoretical knowledge to understand the logic of this carefully designed class recommended by physicians. Specifically, Bonnie (Schiffer) McGlynn Deluca and Sherry Greenspan are the two women who volunteered to teach Moving For Life classes weekly and to do so for  years. Movement professionals like Karen Eubanks, Nancy Bruning, Wendy Joseph and Elena Lopez Sans also volunteered to substitute or to special events from time to time. It wasn't until we received a Komen Greater NYC Community Breast Health grant in 2011 that we trained more teachers and began to get every teacher paid for her time. In 2015 we began to have male teachers as well. Vincent Vy in Singapore, Joseph Mills in Dutchess County NY and Tom Sullivan in NYC have been dedicated to our developing MFL as well.  

Melinda Teustchel – first to start MFL in CA with an ongoing class since 2006

Cinzia Tonolio was our first MFLCI in Canada

Manami Hirose and Ryoko Sugimoto were the first in Japan

The list goes on. We now have 35 Moving For Life Certified Instructors and more are graduating each year.  

 

 

 

How Our Classes Evolved

xxxxxx