Skip to main content

Enjoy Magazine

Jazzercise Your Way to Better Health

08/08/2013 10:57AM ● By Enjoy Magazine
When it comes to fitness programs, there seems to be a new kid on the block about once a month. And then there’s Jazzercise, the dance-based exercise stalwart that’s been around for more than four decades.

It started when Judi Sheppard Missett turned her love of jazz dance into an exercise routine way back in 1969. It’s expanded into a franchise that includes some 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in 32 countries.

The program has certainly flourished in the North State, where 10 instructors lead 33 classes each week at the Redding Jazzercise Center at 2485 Athens Ave. in Cypress Square.

The continued popularity can be explained in two simple ways: It’s fun and it works.

“I loved it from the beginning,” explains Redding’s Molly Redmon, who took her first class in the early 1990s from Catherine Spiker, now her business partner in the Redding Jazzercise Center. “If you like to move to music, you’ll probably enjoy it. That’s what drew me in in the first place.”

Jazzercise remains prominent because it continues to evolve, say enthusiasts. Instructors must become certified to teach the program. Every 10 weeks, instructors receive new DVDs with various choreography segments. They download the music that goes with the routines and they design their own programs for the classes.

Jazzercise combines elements of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and other disciplines to form a total body workout.

“That’s what makes it different and special,” says Spiker, who has been teaching Jazzercise since 1992. “You feel like you’re at a dance party and exercise is a benefit to the fun you’re having. The moves are fresh all the time. It’s not the same old thing. There’s always variety.”

Jazzercise participants come in all ages, shapes and sizes. A single class might include people ages 20 to 70, and Redding instructors reflect that same diversity, ranging from their 20s to 60s.

“I will be 70 in two years and Jazzercise makes me feel like I’m in my 50s,” wrote July Colombo in a Facebook post on the Redding Jazzercise site. “I love my Redding instructors and recommend it to everyone. If you love to dance, then come visit us.”

Jazzercise turned out to be just the right thing for Redding’s Don Link, who suffered a heart attack a year and a half ago, due in part to high cholesterol. A month after his attack, he was doing Jazzercise with his doctor’s approval. On a recent visit to his cardiologist, the treadmill test results were stunningly positive.

“They worked me as hard as they could and couldn’t get my heart rate above 130,” says Link, 57. “They said I have a heart like an athlete. I owe that all to doing Jazzercise. I started doing it every morning. It’s my addiction now.”

Though the classes are predominantly filled with women, Link believes a lot of men are missing out.

“It’s such a fun way to work out,” says Link. “I think maybe some men are intimidated by dance and just getting out there. But my wife and I dance. That’s how we met. And I know there are a lot of men out there who love to dance.”

Participants are encouraged to exercise at their own pace through a routine that starts with a warm up, aerobic period, aerobic cool-down and muscle toning and flexibility segment. There are no mirrors on the walls to limit distractions, and instructors lead from a stage where everyone can see them. Participants can burn more than 600 calories in an hour-long session.

“It’s good for your body and you’re getting away from the stresses of life for that hour,” says Redmon. “I love getting to help the customers. Sometimes there are physical hurdles, and sometimes emotional hurdles. We get them to overcome that and they blossom. It’s not competitive.”

Although it’s a dance-based activity, Redmon says Jazzercise is easy enough for anyone to do. Single sessions are available.

“The dance steps are simple and easy to follow,” she says. “Everyone can do Jazzercise. They may think they can’t do it, but they can.”• • (530) 515-0036