Student Stories: Getting Fit With JOMDC's MOVE Program

By Heather Hodges

In 2009, I found it difficult to do simple things like climbing a flight of stairs or walking a city block without gasping for air. I chalked my fatigue and shortness of breath up to being very overweight, a sedentary job and my lack of exercise. But in 2010, I had a series of lab tests that showed I was severely anemic. I had to be admitted to the hospital right away and given a blood transfusion. Scared does not begin to describe how I felt.

Heather Hodges and JOMDC faculty member Tanya Nuchols (center) pose with Zumba® students.

The next day, I felt an immediate change and as I climbed the stairs of the hospital parking garage I was thrilled that I could reach the first landing with no shortness of breath. Later that summer, I had surgery to correct the underlying condition that had caused my anemia – one that would have been easily detected if I had taken better care of myself! After my recovery, I could not wait to use my newly, super-energized body. I had long wanted to try dance classes and, given my interest in travel to Latin America, I signed up for Mesi Walton’s Afro-Venezuelan dance class at Joy of Motion Dance Center Atlas. The class was life-changing in several ways. I found I really LOVED dancing and I ended up traveling to Venezuela with Mesi to learn more about Afro-Venzezulan dance and music (an experience we turned into a photo exhibition in DC that will move to London this fall!).

More importantly, I discovered that I just loved being in dance classes and at the studios! I’ve tried just about every MOVE Program class at JOMDC: Kukuwa Dance Workout®, Belly Dance Workout, Afro-Brazilian/Cuban, Grind, Piloxing® and Zumba®. I finally settled into a schedule of three to four hours of dance class each week with fantastic teachers like Fatima Senghore (Kukuwa Dance Workout®) and Tanya Nuchols (Zumba®). In the beginning, I was self-conscious and quick to tire. Now, over a year later not only am I about 55 pounds lighter, I can’t stop dancing even outside the studio. I was never a confident social dancer, but my JOMDC classes have empowered me to start dancing at parties and participating in public dance demos! Hanging out with all of the wonderful people at JOMDC, including all of my super-creative fellow dance students, has definitely given me a new perspective on what is possible in life.

Joy of Motion Dance Center’s MOVE Program includes adult drop-in classes designed to provide the best of dance and fitness together. For more information and to register for one of our MOVE Program classes, please click here.