When a friend invited me to try a Jazzercise class a few years ago, I pictured leotards and leg warmers. The song Let’s Get Physical started playing in my head, and I wondered if we might run into Jane Fonda.
Most people remember Jazzercise from the 1980s when the fitness craze was just kicking in. Jazzercise workout studios popped up across the country filled with life-sized mirrors and carpeted floors.
But my friend insisted that Jazzercise was different now. It had stepped out of the 1980s and into the new millennium. Since the first visit was free, I agreed to give it a try.
When I arrived, Jane Fonda was nowhere to be found. Neither was Richard Simmons for that matter. People had traded in the leotards for yoga pants, and the music playing was all released within the last few years.
There was Bruno Mars, Usher, Taylor Swift, Niki Minaj and, for some reason, an unusually heavy rotation of Pit-bull. Maybe he’s related to one of the company execs.
Jazzercise has shed the disco ball, and evolved with the times. They played current music. The carpet had been replaced with a dance floor, and the only mirrors are in the restroom.
It’s now several years later, and I am hooked on Jazzercize . In my opinion, the trick to sticking with exercise, is finding something that you really enjoy. Whether you run or bike or lift or spin, figure out what you love (or hate the least) and go for it.
For me, this place is Jazzercise UA. It’s my version of Cheers Bar. The place you want to go where everybody knows your name…and they’re always glad you came.
At Jazzercise UA, they don’t serve beer, but they do play music. There’s no Coach, but there are instructors. They won’t save you a chair, but they might save your favorite spot on the dance floor.
At my Jazzercise location, they have classes throughout the day, with a variety of instructors. Allegedly, there is an ultra-early class at 5:45, but I can’t comment since I have never been awake that early.
The level of intensity and the volume of the music varies depending on the time of the class and the age of the instructor. I’m pretty sure the spa next door prefers the earlier (quieter) classes. It can’t be especially relaxing to get a facial with the sound of bass pounding through the walls.
All the instructors are great. Some of them are strictly business sticking to the cues and the dance moves. Others tell stories about their day, while some keep us up to date on the latest celebrity news.
One particularly fun teacher is more of a performer than an exercise instructor. On Halloween, she wears costumes to match the songs in her set. At Christmas, she gives out free jingle bells for students to tie onto their shoes.
Another teacher is more of a drill sergeant, ordering us to kick higher, or move faster, or SQUEEZE. Not sure what the clients think about this at the spa next door.
Customers (Jazzercisers) also range in age from late teens to late70s. There’s a class and an instructor to fit everyone’s level and taste. They encourage us all to workout at our own pace. “It’s our hour”” they say.
My age falls somewhere in the middle of the range (fine, it’s on the older side), so my intensity is somewhere in the middle. Occasionally, I challenge myself to keep up with the 20-somethings. Other times, I accept reality.
But, no matter what class I attend, there is never any judgement. The younger girls aren’t glaring at the “mom” trying to kick it, nor would I ever look down upon an older lady trying to stay fit. Quite the opposite. Good for them!
We welcome new members. There’s no “new member shaming” like I remember from a few gyms. When I first started, it definitely took me a while to pick up the moves. I went left when I should have gone right, and almost tripped over myself more than once. But no one laughed at me (at least to my face).
My 13-year-old son asked me why I like Jazzercise. “Are you any good?” he asked. Of course, teenage boys make everything a competition. “Huh?” I told him that I’d never really thought about it that way. “I’m fine,” I told him, but Jazzercise is not a competitive sport.
It’s about finding a workout that you will stick with, because it’s fun. It’s about being able to go to a club at 8:00 in the morning and dance to some fun music. Jazzercise is about no judgement and no drama.
We are all far more likely to exercise if we find something or someplace that we’re comfortable with. For me, that place is Jazzercise. It’s a place where everybody knows your name (or at least your face), and they’re always glad you came. It’s Cheersercise!
Here’s hoping that everyone can find their happy place. Jazz hands!