Writer: Chanel V Tillman


JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Ever wanted to get fit but hated conventional methods of exercise? That was my dilemma. I loved to dance but hated the thought of exercising. I am able to get the best of both worlds by attending Fitness Made Affordable classes. It is a total body workout that incorporates low to high impact aerobics-like movement through Soul Line Dances. Get fit while learning the latest beginners, advanced beginners to advanced Soul Line dances. No dance experience necessary. Class is fun and the instructor, Pepper, is very friendly, patient, easy to follow and eager to teach. Attending Fitness Made Affordable classes provided me with a great cardio workout as I danced and exercised to music I loved.

The best part of the class is you do not have to do the steps perfect, just be open to learning. All ages, ethnic groups and gender are welcome. The only requirements are that you are able to move, come dressed comfortably, be prepared to sweat, have a lot of fun and pay only $5 for a two-hour class. That’s right, only $5 for Monday night classes at The Post.

Although many start out with the intention of taking a few classes, quite a few continue on to join Pepper’s dance group, like myself. I became addicted to the activity. I was growing confident in mastering every dance Pepper taught with the added benefit of getting healthy in a manner that did not feel like working out. Dance, as a form of exercise, provides the heart healthy benefits of aerobic exercise, makes you stronger and helps with balance and coordination according to

Kim Hinton-Edwards, also known as Pepper, is originally from Cincinnati and Columbus, Oh. She relocated for retirement to Jacksonville, Fl. in 2009. She began attending classes with Will of the North East Florida Line Dance Association (N.E.F.L.D.A.) shortly after. “Will noticed I was a quick learner”, Hinton-Edwards said, “and he would have me assist him in class”. The N.E.F.L.D.A. is an organization in Jacksonville that brings line dance groups from all over together to fellowship in the name of dan

In 2012, she taught the “Soul Food” line dance to the senior group of line dancers for the Jacksonville Senior Games Line Dancing Competition. The group won for best choreography. “After the group won the competition,” Hinton-Edwards said, “some of the members recommended I start my own group.” She took their advice.

Hinton-Edwards was asked to take over a Monday evening line dance class at The Post – American Legion 197 location on the north side of Jacksonville.  The request came from the instructor who could no longer teach the class. It was during this time that she created her own line dance group.

The Pepper Steppers of Jacksonville was established in 2013.  It is a diverse line dance group with the main priority of having a great time teaching line dancing, performing, supporting and socializing in the community. I am a part of this group. It was originally for seasoned seniors only, ages 50 and older, for the purpose of entering senior line dance competitions but it quickly grew. The group is now comprised of different ethnicities, genders and ages with the youngest being five-years-old. The seasoned steppers won Best Choreography and Best Overall in the 2015 Senior Competition.

Members of the group assist Pepper in teaching the Fitness Made Affordable classes. This allows participants to see the steps from all angles as members are spread throughout the class. The members give hands on assistance so that no one feels left out when they are unable to see the instructor.

The group also travels to classes in other cities and Fitness Made Affordable attendees are encouraged to come. Pepper invites guest instructors to come to her class and teach. Sister Annie of The Sassy Steppers from Jacksonville, Sister Tweetye from Daytona and Brother Lamont of the Savannah Showstoppers are a few who have stopped by the class.

On top of getting physically fit using dance, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found dancing can dramatically reduce the occurrence of dementia and risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly according to Not just any kind of dancing but freestyle dancing which requires constant split-second, rapid-fire decision making which is key to maintaining intelligence. This is one reason why dancing is perfect for seniors.

Anyone interested in attending a Fitness Made Affordable class or becoming a member of the Pepper Steppers, Pepper has classes at four local Y.M.C.A. locations; Arlington, Brooks, Johnson Family and Yates as well as The Post – American Legion #197. A full schedule, including group membership requirements, can be found via the Facebook group page. Some of the Urban Soul line dances that are taught in class can also be found via the Pepper Steppers YouTube channel.

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