Skip to main content

Bonita & Estero Magazine

Shall We Dance? Yes, If You Know What’s Good For You

Although parents eagerly enroll their children into dance classes, many never think about dance training for themselves. Dancing grants excellent physical and mental benefits to people of all ages. Even if you have two left feet, you can learn new moves at a variety of adult dance classes in Southwest Florida.

Dance can maintain, or improve, physical health. This is why the founder of Sanibel Dance, Debbie Sheme, recommends trying a dance class as a new approach to exercise. The UK’s National Health Service is among many healthcare organizations that advocate regular dancing for improving fitness, reporting that it is “great for losing weight, maintaining strong bones, improving posture and muscle strength, increasing balance and coordination, and beating stress.”

Studies claim that dancing also benefits mental health. The Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York concluded that dance can lower participants’ risk of dementia, unlike other leisure activities such as golf and tennis. Kimberly Kelly Knaub, artistic director of Southwest Florida’s Kellyn Celtic Arts, explains that learning the steps and patterns of dance is good for your mind—and jokes that dance is also good your “sole.”

Ballroom – Island Ballroom, Sanibel

Ballroom dance is extremely accessible. After all, ballroom newbies transform into confident dancers annually on Dancing with the Stars. (Based on that television show’s popularity, the Sanibel Community House hosted a charity spin-off, “Dancing with the Island Stars,” for a few years, generating local interest in ballroom dancing.) To learn ballroom dance styles, from the seductive rumba to the glamorous foxtrot, aspiring dancers can now head to Island Ballroom on Sanibel.

Ballroom beginners will pick up the patterned steps, and once confidence builds, they can add their own unique flare. The social interactions during ballroom partner dancing are especially fun, whether you bring your real-life partner or match up with other class members.

Irish Ceili Dance – at Kellyn Celtic Arts, Fort Myers

You don’t need to be Michael Flatley (of Riverdance fame) to be an Irish dancer. Adult dancers, in their mid 20s to 70s, regularly attend Kellyn Celtic Arts because of the camaraderie and the challenging fun. Liz H began Irish dancing when her daughters enrolled and particularly enjoys “the dance’s athleticism [and] the energy of the music.”

Kellyn Celtic Arts facilitates ceili, Irish social group dancing. New dancers will appreciate that the “footwork is simple and low to the floor, and the music is toe-tappingly grand,” according to Knaub, Kellyn’s director. Adults can also compete in soft shoes or percussive hard shoes and perform at Southwest Florida events.

Ballet – at Gulfshore Ballet, Fort Myers

Ballet-inspired workouts continually crop up, but to reap the most benefits, why not learn the essentials of this graceful dance? Although ballet dancers make their art form look easy on stage, ballet requires incredible amounts of strength, flexibility and coordination.

Adult ballet beginners will learn the classic dance warmup at the barre, including pliés and battement tendus. (Even prima ballerinas continue to perfect these movements throughout their career.) As students’ physicality and balance develop, they can extend their legs higher, complete complicated jumps and perform traveling steps away from the barre. For ballet basics, bourrée to Gulfshore Ballet in Fort Myers.

Modern/ Contemporary – at Sanibel Dance, Sanibel

Dancer and mom Debbie Sheme opened Sanibel Dance in 2013 for children but also offers contemporary dance to adults. This style of dance draws heavily from classical ballet and modern dance. Although contemporary dance can be very precise in terms of body mechanics, it can also be incredibly expressive.

Weekly classes in contemporary dance attract students of all levels and ages—from the moms of younger dance students to older retirees. The class won an award for the Best Fitness & Wellness Solution in Lee County at the Alternative Medicine & Holistic Health Awards 2018. Sanibel Dance focuses on health and fitness, offering classes in Pilates and yoga, as well as dance.

Hip-hop – The Dance Warehouse, Fort Myers

Exercise enthusiasts who most enjoy the reggaeton songs and funky street-style routines in their Zumba fitness classes will feel at home in an open-level hip-hop class. Male and female students, college age and up, gather at the Dance Warehouse in Fort Myers weekly to learn energetic routines.

Artistic director Cheryl L. Sington encourages anyone who enjoys music and moving to participate—with or without previous dance experience. The small classes at the Dance Warehouse range from 30 minutes to two hours, so new dancers can start with shorter sessions.

Sington firmly believes that dance facilitates “muscle memory, fun, neurological improvement, fun, overall health and [more] fun.” Whatever your age and whichever style strikes your fancy, turn up the music and get moving.


The Dance Warehouse

10650 Metro Parkway, #201, Fort Myers


Gulfshore Ballet

5636 Youngquist Road, Units 1 & 2, Fort Myers


Island Ballroom

975 Rabbit Road, Sanibel


Kellyn Celtic Arts Irish Dance Academy

Fort Myers, Naples and Cape Coral locations


Sanibel Dance

975 Rabbit Road, Sanibel

Alison Roberts-Tse has been haphazardly scribbling in journals since she was a small-town small fry. She has degrees in communications and dance from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She now lives in London, spends time on Sanibel and obsessively plans getaways, both near and far.