Clapton’s grannies have been getting down and dirty with a new exercise craze.
Music blares out of the speakers in the dusty, brown community hall as the fit young instructor shouts: “Right now ladies, let’s see your hips moving, we’re going to have some fun.”
It is a scene which is repeated up and down the country, as people jump on the Zumba bandwagon sweeping through our towns.
It is usually lithe young dancers who grind and shimmy their way into shape for this season’s swimsuit with Zumba’s combination of hip-hop shuffles, martial arts techniques and South American dance moves.
In this Clapton hall, however, there is a bit of a difference: not one of the shuffling, bouncing dancers is under sixty.
The 12 OAPs try to keep up with the instructor who barks orders over the latin beats. They sway their hips and clap in time, weaving left and right in a synchronised mass of brown wool and muted cardigans. They don’t all get the moves right every time, but there is lots of enthusiasm.
The class is the brainchild of Jean John, 68, founder of the Wayside Community Centre. The centre has been running exercise classes and activities for Clapton’s over-50s since 1999.
She said: “We had been doing aerobics and people liked that, so we heard about this and thought we’d give it a try. We had a taster session and people loved it so we carried on. It’s still a new group but we get around 15 older people at each session. It’s great.
“I know people get a lot out of it because you hear the testimonies of people saying: I can run now, I can go up my stairs, I can reach to hang my clothes on the line, I’m not having heart palpitations as much through the exercises that we are putting on.”
One woman getting involved in the class is Kathy, 73, a chair exercise instructor at the centre. She said: “I get a lot of fun out of it. It keeps me fit, it keeps me young, it keeps me going.”
But while Clapton’s grannies are jumping in enthusiastically, local granddads seem less keen. Wayside founder Jean said:
“The guys are very lazy, we don’t see a lot of guys. We see ladies here, you know late seventies, and they’re coming out but no men so far. We say to the women, bring your husbands, drag them along, but no luck yet.”
To join the dance revolution, visit Jean and Kathy at the Wayside Community Centre, Wednesdays 1-2 pm at the Round Chapel, Clapton. For more information email email@example.com or call Jean on 020 8986 7531.