January 2020

Guest Post: The Joy of Movement

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Guest Post: The Joy of Movement

Kelly McGonigal‘s book “The Joy of Movement” brings light to the many ways movement and exercise affect the human condition. From feeling better to physical strength, she uses case studies and anecdotes to show the power of movement. Following is an excerpt from the read that hits particularly close to home for us at Jazzercise.

When life throws you a curve ball--a health challenge, an unexpected loss, a family crisis--it can be easy to feel alone, or like you have to handle it on your own. But as Psychologist Bronwyn Tarr told me, “We need things that help us connect with one another, that give us opportunities to forge collectivity.” If we’re lucky, we experience many such moments in everyday life, but it also helps to have special events that draw on the power of moving together. Researchers have studied the effects of participating in charity athletic events, and participants routinely describe feeling a collective strength, hope, and optimism. Organizations that host such events could choose any method of fundraising, from rummage sales to auctions, but none have the popular draw of 5Ks, half marathons, and physical challenges like Hustle Chicago, in which thousands of people climb the iconic John Hancock Tower’s ninety- four stories to raise funds for the Respiratory Health Association. Threats on the scale of heart disease, cancer, AIDS, and social injustice can make us feel paralyzed, hopeless, or defeated. Athletic events that acknowledge these collective problems are opportunities to experience one of the antidotes to despair, we‑agency. When we take our part in these collective endeavors, the physical movement uplifts us and the community inspires us. Winning the battle suddenly feels possible. It also reminds us that our struggles are shared by others. This was something Polina Davidenko whose grandmother was diagnosed with lymphoma told me. “When you’re suffering from something, you forget that you’re not alone in it. When you see people come together, it reminds you that you aren’t alone.”

Once a year, over a thousand people dance together on the deck of the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier docked in San Diego Harbor. Two hundred thousand sailors served on the USS Midway from 1945 to 1992, when it was deployed for both combat and humanitarian missions. Today the carrier hosts hundreds of military ceremonies and community events each year. One of these events is the annual Jazzercise Dance for Life fundraiser, which in one day raises over a hundred thousand dollars for breast cancer research and support. The event is advertised as a fight against breast cancer. Many of the dancers arrive in groups, wearing matching tank tops with slogans like “Strong alone. Unstoppable together.” Instructors lead participants through dance routines to popular music, a thousand feet simultaneously striking the ship deck with every step. Aerial shots show a swarm of hot-pink-clad bodies moving in unison, suggesting a superorganism rather than a group of individuals. Through their synchronized steps and desire to come together, the dancers have become the impenetrable herd, a swarm defending its own, a throng of selves merged into a powerful we.

From THE JOY OF MOVEMENT by KELLY MCGONIGAL, published by AVERY, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2019 by KELLY MCGONIGAL

1 comment
Alice Shaw
Jazzercise has been a solid foundation for me personally, for 40 years, as a cornerstone of who I am. Empowering women through positive motivation and movement, mentally encouraging them, and spiritually loving them. Love this message of doing life together!
4/21/2021 12:06:41 PM

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