Still dancing after all these years

Seal Beach aerobics dance group (class) formed in 1979

Pictured here in the top row are: Linda Grillo, Connie Scott, Jan McKinnon, Sandra Darling, Sandra Henry, Leslie Zwick, and Joyce Okazaki. Second row: Virginia Fitzsimons, Sharon Kroll, and Sheila Sanchez. Bottom row: Marsha Cohen, Fran Onishi, Jo Ellen Kerr, and Michelle Ryan.

The Seal Beach women’s aerobics group has been together since 1979. The gang are still together, with changes wrought by time. The pandemic complicated things, but technology allowed them to preserve what they have found and created together.

Sharon Kroll said it was “very rare” for a group to be together that long. Kroll said she doesn’t know of a group that has lasted that long.

The group recently held a “meet and greet” in person, which they do monthly. Kroll provided most of the photos from a recent gathering.

“We talk on Zoom, but it’s not the same,” Kroll said.

According to Kroll, the class had its roots in a Westminster Mall demonstration of aerobic dancing. This ultimately led to the group being formed as a class through the city of Seal Beach.

“Martha [Stegen] started teaching in 1979 and Jo [Kerr] in 1981.  Martha retired about five years ago and Jo took over all her classes since then.  We have all danced with both Martha and Jo over the years,” Kroll wrote in a recent email.

During an in-person interview, Kroll said the city would like them to come back, but the members are older now and some members live out of state now. The classes continue online.

Through the years, the dancing aerobics class members became another family for one another. When a family member passed, or when a  member had an illness, or when a woman’s husband passed away, it was a comfort to be with the group.

The members also share joyful tidings, such as the birth of grandchildren. “One thing we do is we laugh a lot,” Kroll wrote.

“There are approximately 25 women zooming covering four different time zones,” Kroll wrote.

Kroll believes the youngest member is 65; the oldest 88.

“These are not feeble old women that can’t move,” Kroll said in an in-person interview.

Kroll said they have a new set of dances every session. In addition to dances, the do “core” work. (“Your core is the central part of your body. It includes your pelvis, lower back, hips and stomach. The stomach muscles sometimes are called abs. Core exercises train the muscles in your core to work in harmony,” according to

Kroll said dancing is supposed to be the best exercise for the body and the brain.

According to Kroll, the dances feature music from all genres. Every session features a new set of songs.

“Jo’s next zoom session will start on January 4th.  Any readers who would like to sign up can reach her at,” Kroll said.