December 10, 2012
New Jazzercize studio burns calories bouncing to beat
No leg warmers were present when a group of about 20 women started their Jazzercise routine Tuesday night in Cortland, with owner and instructor Dixie Clark bent down to turn up the dance music just a little higher.
Nor were there leotards.
Instead, the students taking Jazzercise, a fitness program that is perhaps best known for its 1980s dance aerobics routines, wore modern workout clothes as they stretched, lounged and danced to Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe.”
A Jazzercise class mixes kickboxing, core training and dance routines into a 60-minute, full-body workout that includes cardio, strength training and stretching.
“It’s pretty much the whole package in an hour,” Clark said.
Forty years after it was founded, Jazzercise remains popular today.
Clark bought her Jazzercise business from two instructors on Oct. 1 and offers 20 classes at the Cortlandville location on Groton Avenue Extension she moved to on Nov. 5, and 30 classes at her Lansing location on North Triphammer Road.
“I took my first class in July of ’07,” Clark said, after four years of promising her neighbor, one of the previous owners, she would come. In February 2008, she became an instructor.
Sue Karn, who instructs classes in the Freeville Holy Cross Church, at Tompkins Cortland Community College and at Cornell University, first started doing Jazzercise in the 1990s.
“I saw an advertisement in 1995,” said Karn, who added she developed a passion for Jazzercise and became an instructor in 1999.
What drew Karn to Jazzercise was the music, the dance aerobics and the constant changes to the workouts.
Several times a year, Jazzercise provides its franchisees with new songs and new choreography to teach students.
“One of things that makes Jazzercise unique is that our routines change every 10 weeks so that we receive 30 new routines every 10 weeks,” Karn said.
“There’s new moves all the time,” Clark said.
In other aerobics classes Karn has heard about, people are stuck doing the same thing over and over again, she said.
Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett still creates 90 percent of the choreography for the business she started in 1969, Clark said.
Clark is amused that Jazzercise has yet to shed its 1980s fad misconception.
“People thought we came and went like everything else, but we’re still here,” she said.
Karn agreed that Jazzercise is different today than it was in the 1980s.
“We’re using Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber,” Karn said, noting that Jazzercise has also updated its exercises, adding mambo and chacha moves that might be seen in a Zumba class.
Julie Hempson started taking classes almost two years ago, following in her mother’s footsteps.
The 28-year-old former dancer said she previously thought Jazzercise was for old people, but was surprised at how far the workout pushed her.
“It’s super fun,” said Hempson. “It’s a great workout.”
There is no one group of people who Jazzercise, Clark said. While most of the clients are women, with ages ranging from 19 to 72, men are welcome.
“It’s a total variety,” Clark said.
Karn also teaches all sorts of different people.
“It’s mainly people who enjoy music and want to stay fit,” Karn said.
One client who breaks the Jazzercise stereotype is a white, middle-aged male trucker who has become well known in the Jazzercise community for taking classes on the road.
Both Clark and Karn have had him in classes.
“He’s been to probably half the Jazzercise classes in the U.S.,” said Karn. “He’s very good at Jazzercise, too.”
The man’s blog, entitled “Jim The Truck Driver,” chronicles his experiences at different classes and his longing for Jazzercise classes while taking a trip to Tunisia in the spring of last year in the midst of the Arab spring uprisings.
Jazzercise classes have an atmosphere of acceptance, Clark said.
She called it “probably the friendliest workout,” noting that no one is there to look at or judge each other, but to have a fun, effective workout.
The camaraderie of Jazzercise classes keeps Karn going.
“You know what it is, it’s the people I meet,” Karn said. “They become my friends, my family.”
“It’s a support system,” said Bethann Fischer, 48, as she waited for Tuesday’s class to begin. She described Jazzercise as “dancing with friends.”
Karn has a theory for why Jazzercise classes are so friendly.
“I guess we just attract the right people,” she said.
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