While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers—with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers—are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.
The women-only Inches-A-Weigh health club helps clients meet their fitness and weight-loss goals via a three-part figure-correction program. Each customized treatment plan involves private weekly weigh-ins, nutritional counseling, body sculpting, and cardiovascular exercises. A medley of spa-like services accompanies each program for quicker results. Treatments include body wraps, 30-minute sessions in an infrared sauna design to blast up to 800 calories at one go, and a French-algae skin-tightening wrap that will leave skin as taut and shiny as a shrink-wrapped skyscraper.
Since launching their flagship 10-week program in 2001, the instructors at Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping have spurred more than 35,000 trainees across 42 locations toward their weight-loss goals. Classes burn fat and build lean muscle with fitness kickboxing and muscle-building with anaerobic bands. Coaches support trainees with a nutrition plan that breaks up food intake into six daily meals, increasing sustaining bodily energy and a sense of déjà vu. The founders of Farrell’s eXtreme Bodybuilding are so confident in their program that they offer a money-back guarantee for those dissatisfied with their results.
Northland Fitness Club, which moved to a new Blairs Ferry Road location in early 2012, stocks its gym with all the amenities of a metropolis exercise complex. Television shows entertain mental muscles while Precor and Stairmaster equipment stimulate and exercise heart and leg sinews. Circuit machines and weight training barbells, meanwhile, enable customized training for pectorals, biceps, forearms, and reararms, which spring from the middle of the back and help quarterbacks fend off blindside sacks. Nationally certified instructors lead group classes—including Zumba and yoga/Pilates fusion—six days a week, and personal trainers craft tailored workouts so that each trainee earns the best possible results. During the 10-week Max10 program, patrons launch kickboxing jabs and run resistance drills in a supportive setting specifically geared toward weight loss, wellness, and intimidating one's own reflection.
When licensed cosmetologist Chuck Fiegen founded Capri College in 1966, he knew that the best way to prepare students for the work force was to start at the top—with the educators. By sending his instructors all around the world to learn the latest trends and techniques, he was giving his students access to information they couldn't find in any textbook. More than 45 years have passed, but Fiegen—who continues to run the beauty school with the help of his six children—remains a stickler for teaching excellence. He can occasionally be found observing teaching methods and offering his two-cents on the clinic floor.
Inside the ACCSC-accredited college, instructors with at least three years of experience bolster students’ employability with training in cosmetology, massage therapy, aesthetics, and nail technology. Students put their training into action in the student-staffed salon and spa, where they paint and snip dull strands, and soften extremities with paraffin treatments. In the spa, students dole out five types of massage modalities, from relaxing Swedish strokes to Thai massage, which addresses tension with yoga-like stretches and the pressing of eject buttons. Their panoply of facials help counteract skin woes, such as fine lines or acne, whereas microdermabrasion buffs away dead skin, sunspots, and other facial imperfections with an onslaught of sodium-bicarbonate crystals.
Aspen Athletic Club amasses top-of-the-line equipment, seasoned trainers, and luxurious amenities within five gym spaces across Des Moines. A fleet of cardio and strength-training machinery from brands such as LifeFitness and Star Trac heavily populate the floors, allowing guests ample access to the equipment. In addition to a cardio theater, the Hickman gym boasts 12 onsite tennis courts and specialized studios for martial arts and women-only workouts. Visitors to the 14th Street location can sign up for aquatic classes or swim laps solo across the pool. Other amenities such as tanning, massage therapy, and gold-plated kettlebells vary from club to club.
Certified personal trainers plan out custom routines for clients, and highly qualified instructors lead Zumba steps, spinning seminars, and, at certain locations, fast-paced Les Mills classes. The professional staff also offer nutritional counseling at all locales.