Key Takeaways:

Shirley is learning new skills and helping seniors stay healthy by teaching her passion for the Hustle on GetSetUp. “I wanted to let seniors know that they can get up and do the Hustle."


Shirley lives in Detroit, Michigan where some of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren live. In her free time she loves to dance and is a key figure in the Detroit dance community, plus she is a toastmaster beefing up her public speaking skills on a regular basis.

Shirley worked as a nurse at the Detroit Medical Center and the City of Detroit before she retired. She didn’t stay retired long. She was looking for something to keep her blood pressure down and give her energy and increase socialization when she found the line dance - the Hustle. In a line dance, you dance in a line and everyone does the same step at the same time.

“Lots of people are worried they don’t have rhythm. But you can learn to line dance if you can count, if you can walk into class you can learn. It just takes practice. The biggest thing is to get up and just do it.”

That’s part of the reason she became an instructor teaching the hustle.

“I enjoy working and getting out and being with people. I enjoy teaching the Hustle and I really enjoy helping people. Dancing is great to keep blood pressure under control and increases energy.”
Shirley at a line dancing class..

Do what I can - the DWIC method to learning

Shirley didn’t want to keep this secret to herself but wanted to share the Hustle with others and help them. However, she wasn’t always a great Hustle dancer!

“Lots of people say ‘I can’t dance.’ I was one of those people who couldn’t dance and what was interesting was that somehow I did learn. I laughingly tell people I took a week vacation and went to hustle classes several times a day. Finally, I learned one step. I paid attention to how I’d managed to finally learn and I worked up a method. The 'I do what I can' (DWIC) method.”

Using this method where each person does what they can - has helped Shirley teach the Hustle since 1998. When she first started teaching, she just did it for fun. She never expected it to explode as it did. Plus dancing became acceptable as an exercise and put in more community centers. This meant that she could teach in multiple community centers all across the city.

“When I first learned to dance I felt out of place. Then I realized people in the class weren’t watching me. They were all trying to watch their own feet and I wasn't really the center of attention. The great thing about the Hustle is that no one minds working with beginners and people help each.”

Starting as a beginner at any age

Since Shirley knows the importance of taking steps as a beginner it wasn’t hard for her to jump on her first class on GetSetUp when she first heard about it on Facebook.

“I saw it and thought 'oh let me try these classes.' They sounded exactly like what I thought classes should be like for seniors. I had the vision and had the idea but hadn’t seen it. When you go on and try to learn you want to ask a question right then and see what you are learning. The instructors on GetSetUp are just terrific. They don’t make you feel you should know it and they take time and ask learners questions. Plus I don’t have to take notes cause they send them after.”

Shirley thought the set up of the classes was just ideal for her. She would do a class then really follow through practicing what she learned. One of her first classes was How to Take a Great Selfie and since then she has taken about everything she could fit in her schedule including Organize Yourself Using Google Calendar, Notes, Tasks, Password Managers: Why Use One & How to Find One, and Get Started With Gmail

“I have been wanting to do the meditation social hour and I did the Zoom class. Though I keep trying to get in the advanced Zoom class. Plus I should take Facebook and social media sites classes again.”

Shirley found the GetSetUp format really helpful to teach seniors. She had been doing 15 min hustle dancing on Facebook live at 10 AM and 4 PM online. It had surprised her that they were going so well. She was surprised to see how many people wanted to get up and dance a bit with her.

“I wanted to let seniors know that they can get up and do the Hustle. Many think the Hustle is for the young people and they can’t. However, I wanted to encourage people to get up and dance and move a bit.”

One of Shirley’s friends in her 90s has been following Shirley’s DWIC idea. She knows that some days she can move and others she can’t, but deep down she too has learned that dancing is good for her.  

Dancing your way to health

“Dancing is so good for you! It is the best exercise for seniors. It requires that you use your brain and not just repetition like walking. With dancing, you have to think, move all parts of the body, and it’s good for balance. I wanted to share that with more people to teach about health through the Hustle. Teaching people to dance helps them get the weight off and keep blood pressure down.”

Shirley wanted to spread her dancing knowledge and its benefits to more seniors so she signed up to go from a learner to Guide at GetSetUp. She hosted her first Social Hour: Get Moving by Line Dancing (The Hustle!)

“It was such fun! We had a few snafus with me and my technology, but I’m working on it. Plus I’m going to continue to work on it. Everyone was at little different levels and that is fine. We danced a bit and got people to have fun with it!”

Shirley likes to teach people in general, especially beginners. She loves seeing people get it! Plus it keeps her up and going herself which she enjoys. She loves sharing that with other seniors and showing others they can do it too!

For those that haven’t ever danced, she’s even considering pre-beginners classes.

“If people are like me when I first started and ‘would hear a step on the beat’ I would be like if you can tell me where it is. I plan to help explain that to people. The brain will do the work and the brain will tell the feet what to do.”

While Shirley is considering other classes that she could teach as well on relaxation, writing for speeches, and public speaking she doesn’t plan to stop learning now that she’s a Guide.

“I think the way the GetSetUp program is set up is just great and ideal! I am looking forward to still taking classes even as a Guide. I learn so much and I love learning! Plus I love teaching.”

Now that Shirley is in a new lockdown she images taking more classes and perhaps teaching more too. She keeps attending her toastmaster meetings which have expanded to include international ones without borders which have been fun in the pandemic.

All these new experiences are keeping her busy, but she looks forward to seeing her family who live farther away and traveling as soon as it's possible again!

May 23, 2022
Learner Stories

Classes by:

Liz Miller

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