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Flash into volunteerism

Volunteers get a special surprise at Cedar Crest

Created date

May 29th, 2014
A flash mob of 13 aerobics class members surprised breakfasting volunteers with a five-minute choreographed dance routine. Led by aerobics instructor and fellow neighbor Joann West, they danced to “Dirty Dancing” and “Hot, Hot, Hot!”
A flash mob of 13 aerobics class members surprised

If anyone was sleepy at breakfast on the morning of April 10, they got a wake-up call when a flash mob of 13 of their neighbors moved up to the dance floor and assembled into a “flash mob” where they danced for approximately five minutes to “Dirty Dancing” and “Hot, Hot, Hot!” 

Led by resident Joann West, the Crest flash mob had secretly practiced their choreographed routine for three months and performed the upbeat routine perfectly.

Full of spunk herself, Joann leads aerobics classes three times a week at the Erickson Living community in Pompton Plains, N.J. She organized the flash mob to help celebrate volunteers during volunteer week at Cedar Crest, which coincided with National Volunteer Month. They wore neon yellow T-shirts that said “Flash Into Volunteerism” to mark the occasion.

“The dance was a fun and inventive way to celebrate the beneficence that takes place here within our walls and outside in the local community by so many of our compassionate residents,” says Cedar Crest Executive Director Cathy Guttman. “Whether it’s working at the local schools, hospital, or food pantry, the folks who live here at Cedar Crest truly make a difference in the lives of so many, and the good work they do is what defines being part of a real community.”

Active at 85

“Everyone was very surprised,” Joann says of their performance. 

Connie Toth, one of the flash mob participants, says, “It was really great fun—a little diversion from our regular routine.”

One of Joann’s regular aerobics class members, Connie joins 20 to 25 of her neighbors three times a week for 30 minutes of choreographed, upbeat aerobics exercise. 

“Aerobics is one of the most active groups at Cedar Crest,” Joann says.  

The average age is 85, but you’d never know it. In fact, when a group of students from William Patterson University observes the class from time to time for a course, Joann insists they participate. “They can’t keep up with us!” she says.

When Joann took over the class three years ago, she upped the activity level. “I had been taking the classes for a while. I wanted it to be more active so I pursued that, and it’s been very successful,” she says. 

Since she started teaching, attendance has increased—and not just among women. “It’s gotten a lot more men active, which was one of my goals.” 

The class steps and sweats to music at 120 beats per minute, starting with stretching. After a few balance poses, they march into aerobics and end with a cool down. 

Proactive lifestyle

Aerobics is just one of many group fitness classes available at Cedar Crest. The community, designed to help people live an active retirement, has two on-site fitness centers and indoor aquatics center, along with a medical center staffed with full-time physicians and medical staff. 

“We focus on prevention,” says Wellness Manager Nicole Cox. “By offering fitness classes like aerobics, yoga, aquatic Zumba, kettle bells, and cycling, along with personal training, we promote fitness year-round. And staying physically fit keeps more people out of the doctor’s office.”

Should someone need to see a doctor, Cedar Crest’s fitness center staff communicate with the physicians at their on-site medical center and new Rehab and Wellness Center. “We get referrals from our doctors a lot,” Cox says, “and they communicate with me, especially if there are any issues we need to be aware of.”

Cox says this makes her clients feel more at ease and more prone to keep up with their fitness routine. “You’re never too old to get in shape!” Cox says. “Our residents prove that every day.”

Where will they turn up next?

The aerobics class members certainly prove it, too.

Joann says they naturally took to the flash mob choreography. They even practiced for two weeks while Joann visited her sister in Texas. “I was really impressed. They wanted to get it right,” she says.

After their premier performance, Joann said they’ll continue to develop new routines. In answer to when we can expect to see them next, she said: “The object of a flash mob is a surprise! So you never know when we’re going to show up.”

She gave one hint, though: you may catch a performance during an upcoming marketing luncheon.



Doing good

  • Some of the places where Cedar Crest volunteers donate their time: 
  • Local schools and school boards
  • Chilton Hospital
  • Pequannock Township Food Pantry and other food pantries
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Center of United Methodist Aid to the Community
  • The Salvation Army
  • Charity work for various veterans and active military organizations
  • Healing the Children
  • Churches and temples