Movement class builds muscles and confidence

Participants in the Movement Speaks class at the Dapolito Center, many of them seniors, get loose while getting toned. Photos By Tequila Minsky

BY TEQUILA MINSKY | “I smile from the minute I come in until the minute I leave,” said Joyce Steinglass, 80.

Steinglass is one among more than 25 weekly  participants in Naomi Goldberg Hass’s  movement class at the Dapolito Recreation Center, at Varick and Clarkson Sts.

The majority of students come from the Village area, as well as its environs, including the Lower East Side, Tribeca and Chelsea, with some traveling from Brooklyn and the Upper West Side.

The winter session began Jan. 16, and the class runs Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Classes are open to all ages and are free with a Parks Department Recreation Center membership — just $25 a year for seniors.

Haas’s Movement Speaks is a core program for older adults of her Dances For a Variable Population. A classically trained ballet dancer, Haas has been working with older adults for 10 years and explains that she offers a multi-technique method.

Naomi Haas leads the Movement Speaks class, getting the positive energy flowing.

The students ring Dapolito’s gym with the walls serving for balance as Haas and her two assistant teachers take the class through a series of exercises.

To stretch, lunge, rotate, twist, bend, roll up, extend, brush and squat become the actions of the morning. Fingers to shoulders and elbows to ankles get a workout.

Her music playlist — disco, big band, rock and roll, rap, blues, classical, some Michael Jackson and Aretha, which she  curates with much thought and passion, provides the audio component of rhythm and melodies that make participants just want to move.

Following routines to the varied rhythms,  sometimes individually and sometimes in groups, the kaleidoscope of approaches keeps the morning interesting while exercising.

Among her “students” are those with no dance class backgrounds to a few former dancers and some seniors with dance companies, all moving in their own ways that are comfortable. Welcomed newcomers are given added attention through the cycle of exercises.

Movement Speaks’ Web site conveys that the program is based on core values of appreciating one’s own body and moving with other people, with the intention to promote greater mobility, self-confidence, physical awareness, social interaction, expressiveness in movement, and a greater sense of meaning.

The Dapolitto classes get some support from  City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s Office.

“We could get more,” Haas said, hopefully.

Hass also holds one other Downtown class (among the 10 in Manhattan) at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays at 334 Madison St. at the Henry Street Settlement.