How Jazzercise Kicked My Butt Back Into Shape

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Melissa and Michelle at Jazzercise class
Me (left) and Melissa (right) at Jazzercise.

On January 1st, my friend Melissa and I sat on the cozy couch (while our families went on a walk!!) discussing our desires to get back into cardio and all of the ways that this new year’s resolution was going to stick. We even pulled out our cell phones and reviewed the schedules at the local gyms, all without ever actually standing up or leaving our comfort zone. We were going to get up and do it — tomorrow.

I used to love to sweat, going to the gym nearly every day for aerobics classes and weight training. Around ten years ago I turned to yoga and found a new strength there. My love affair with yoga is another story for another day but let’s just say my cardio had really fallen off, despite my strong warrior poses and planks. On my 40th birthday, my doctor told me it was time to get back to the weights and cardio to protect my aging body and heart.

Facing my 42nd birthday in late January 2017, I realized that I had not done a damn thing in the form of cardio since this big talk of health resolutions. Sadly, all of the reasons I wanted to get back to the gym had not improved either (sleep, energy, stress, weakness, etc.). One last thing that happened that day — my friend JoAnn, who is a Jazzercise instructor, wrote me to wish me a happy birthday and to remind me that I would love the class and I needed to make time to check out Jazzercise Winston-Salem. Hmmm… could it be a sign? Dare I give myself the birthday gift of making a friend happy and at least checking one attempt off my resolution list before month-end?

But I’m terrified. What if I cannot keep up? What if everyone is better than me? What if I hurt myself? What if the class and music are super old-school and boring? What if it is a big clique and nobody likes me? What if I wear the wrong clothes? What if I end up in the hospital? The number of “what ifs” I was able to muster almost overwhelmed me into staying home. However, JoAnn offered me a 7-day free pass if I would just treat myself to this one try on my special day.

My First Class

The amazing Jazzercise Winston-Salem, NC members in action!

I put on my yoga gear and sneakers and headed to my first class with Dani on my birthday. The studio is in a strip shopping center next to La Carreta on Jonestown Road (if all else fails, at least I can enjoy some chips and salsa). But when I walked inside it felt more like Cheers! Dani welcomed me by name (JoAnn had tipped her off that I was coming) and she wished me a happy birthday. After a quick check-in process and run down of what to expect from the class hour, I was met by excited classmates and current music.

What followed was a whirlwind of cardio dance, kickboxing, pilates, yoga and strength training. Before I knew it, the hour was up and I was smiling (and sweating) from ear to ear. With no clock in plain sight and no mirrors to make me self-conscious, I had danced, hopped, kicked, and laughed my way to a better mood and one of the best birthdays ever. My fellow Jazzercisers even wished me a happy birthday and shared their stories of how long they have been doing Jazzercise and why they love it so much. When class ended, I ran to the schedule to figure out when my next class would be. I went three more times on my free 7-day pass and on my 6th day I signed up for the next six months, and a new addiction was born. What’s not to love about a class that leaves you feeling empowered, centered and strong?

What Is a Jazzercise Class Like?

JoAnn & Missy are two of our inspiring Winston-Salem instructors.

But, you may be wondering what it is about Jazzercise that leaves me always wanting more? Let me try to summarize but, to be honest, the best way to find out is to join me for class and try it out yourself!

Dance Cardio is No Joke

Jazzercise is a cardio dance workout so it generates endorphins in your body which actually make you happier. And with dance at its core, it feels a lot less like exercise to me than running or the elliptical machine. You are also surrounded by friends (new and old) who love and support you, and you are shaking your hips to the latest music from all genres (which also makes me feel more knowledgeable about the current music scene than I have in ages!). This is not to say that other workouts are not fun nor is it to suggest that Jazzercise is not a hard workout. It is. In fact, a one hour Dance Mixx class (the most popular class format) is said to burn as many calories as an hour of running!

Builds Muscles

In addition to the cardio portion of the class, which tends to run about 40 minutes, there is also a strength training portion of every Dance Mixx class that works all the major muscle groups with free weights, balance ball, exercise bands and/or mat work. The fact that I can work every muscle in my body with cardio and strength training in an hour, complete with a safe warm up and cool down, is unbeatable in my book. While I tend to frequent the Dance Mixx class, there are also other formats that focus a bit more on strength training (Interval, Fusion, Core, Strike, Strength). There are new routines every ten weeks, so you never have the opportunity to get bored (or even all that comfortable) before your whole workout is new again.

Instructors Rock

Lastly, I want to talk about how amazing our instructors are here at our Winston-Salem Jazzercise studio. Not only are these ladies great teachers who make me sweat but they are also friendly, motivating, excellent story tellers, and really good at making me laugh out loud, even when I am working so hard I want to cry. Now that is skill! Every teacher is different and has her own energy level, music taste, etc. This adds to your options to keep your workout interesting. Jazzercise has a healthy emphasis on safety and form so you get the most out of every move without injury and there is always a clear option for the same routine to be performed high or low impact. You can really make it your own and feel safe doing it, thanks to the well trained Jazzercise instructors.

What Keeps Me Coming Back for More?

I just celebrated my 50th class and it still amazes me how much I look forward to every class. I have always been an active person, and there have been workouts that connected with me over the years but never have I experienced an obsession with exercise. I think it is safe to say, that this is a very healthy addiction. Looking back on my new year’s resolutions, I am excited to report that my friend Melissa tried Jazzercise for the first time in May and has been joining me on the floor ever since. I guess some new year’s resolutions are made to keep. There is nothing more motivating than being surrounded by women of all ages, lifting each other up and demonstrating that you can stay fit at any age. So come on ladies, the time is now to get started so we can dance into our 70’s and beyond!

Mention my name, Michelle Schenker, when you go for the first time to get your first class free at Winston-Salem Jazzercise

What is your favorite workout?

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