Fitness has become a staple of promoting active, healthy lifestyles in an age of chaotic schedules. Constantly running back and forth from work to home and everywhere in between is a daily occurrence. So finding the time to treat our bodies the way we should is sometimes difficult and not always a top priority. It’s important to remember that there are more ways than dragging yourself to the gym after work to exercise every day. Weight lifting and treadmills aren’t for everyone. Why not join a dance class?
Steppin’ Out Dance Academy in Kingston proves that dance is a popular, fun way to go about keeping active - they’ve been open for 24 years and last year had around 750 students of all ages enrolled. Owner Kim Mills, who has been dancing since she was six years old, is happy to remind everyone that dance classes aren’t just for your kids.
“We have a lot of adults that dance,” she says. “I have adults that are in their sixties enrolled in our dance classes. We even have an adult competition team.”
With 16 trained instructors and 130 classes per week, Steppin’ Out has options for dancers of all styles and levels. Along with traditional classes such as ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and hip hop, the academy also teaches Zumba, a hula hoop fitness class, and aerial dance.
“We started our aerial program 10 years ago,” says Mills. “We were the first dance studio in New Hampshire to offer it.”
Aerial choreography uses apparatus attached to the ceiling, allowing dancers to explore movement off of the ground. Equipment used includes silks and fabric, trapeze, aerial hoops, slings, and nets. The aerial program has been so successful that Mills just opened a facility in Fremont created especially for aerial. The director of the program, Diana Palumbo, is certified by the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) and two more of Steppin’ Out’s instructors have just become certified. Aerial is a difficult technique, but Mills explains that the academy takes safety into account.
“Diana created the syllabus so that all of the instructors are teaching the same skills, all recommended by NECCA. We make sure that the students are strong and skilled enough on the ground before they move on.”
If aerial is not for you or your child, there are plenty more opportunities to choose from. The academy’s competition team, comprised of around 150 students, competes twice a year in regional competitions, usually located right in New Hampshire or in Massachusetts. Every two or three years, they compete in a national competition, but accessibility is important to Mills.
“One summer we danced at Hershey Park and we’ve danced at Disney, but traveling can get expensive so we limit it to every few years.”
Steppin’ Out’s students also perform at the Kingston Days festivities and nursing homes around the area. But they don’t have to perform to be active in the community. Every year the academy chooses a different charity to raise money for. Last year they raised $1,100 for To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit organization that provides support and awareness about depression, suicide, and self-harm. They don’t stop at national charities either.
“We have a student named Heidi who was diagnosed with cancer when she was two. She’s now six and a half and doing well, and every year we participate in Ride for Heidi which is organized by her mother. This October will be the fifth annual event.”
It’s not often that your local neighborhood gym is as community-oriented and close-knit as Steppin’ Out Dance Academy. With dancers ranging from two years old to over 60 years old, the academy’s success is evident: there truly is something for everyone. Dance at this academy is rewarding to the body and the soul. It doesn’t get much better than that.