Each week a group of individuals gather at Schlafly Library for a program called Step For Fitness. The program - one of the longest-running programs at Schlafly Library - is an aerobic line-dancing class for adults that started in 2005.
Step For Fitness was originally started by Mr. and Mrs. Ledbetter, with members of Newstead Baptist Church and other core members including Doris, Yvonne and Willis. It was Doris, a librarian, that connected the group to the St. Louis Public Library.
Since the program began at the Library, it underwent a myriad of transformations and name changes. The program at one time included participants of all ages and their group was called the “Schlafly Star Sliders” and later the “Midtown Sliders.” Long-time members of Step for Fitness call their dance style “slides” and mention that everybody adds their own flavor to their line dancing.
However, one constant in Step for Fitness has been a strong sense of community and love. Current leaders of the group, Stephanie A. and Augusta P., say that “everybody is like a family” and “everybody is willing to step in and help new members learn the dance.”
Another pillar of the group is everyone’s appreciation for founding members Mr. and Mrs. Ledbetter, who current members say had unbelievably smooth dance moves and were great teachers.
The Ledbetters retired from dancing in 2017, and Mrs. Ledbetter recently passed away. When they retired, Stephanie said “Everyone cried like babies,” and Augusta added, “We were in a panic about what to do.”
So, the sisters decided to step in as leaders to continue the program and honor the Ledbetters’ legacy. Stephanie leads the dance classes, and Augusta registers and welcomes attendees.
Many longtime members of the group continue to show up to dance, teach and help out in other ways, including Mr. Ledbetter, Peggy and Sheila There are also brand new people who join the drop-in class every Tuesday.
The class is very welcoming to beginner dancers and newcomers alike. While teaching, Stephanie likes to address any nervous dancers by quoting Mr. Ledbetter - “As a wise man says, if you mess up, just catch up.”
Step for Fitness is held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday at Schlafly Library. The class is free and open to everyone, no registration is needed.
By: Patrick at Schlafly Library