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. Two-time Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of the improvisational routines, although her advanced skills aren't needed to get the most out of classes. 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.
American Academy of Self Defense's staff teaches centuries of martial-arts wisdom from various cultures into a curriculum of karate, jujitsu, kung fu, and kickboxing classes. The logo displays numerology to represent the ranks of the martial arts taught at the school; 10 stars and 10 stripes symbolize the 10 degrees of black belt all the way up to grandmaster.
But instructors don't stick to a single style in their quest for martial perfection, and their classes accommodate students of all ages. They teach a variety of skills, including the striking art kempo karate, the advanced grappling art of judo, and basic self-defense skills for men and women, working to instill strength, confidence, and self-esteem in their students. The school's senseis promise one-on-one attention and full participation in every class, leaving no one sidelined and wishing they could join in—as frequently happens in organized sports and never happens in royal family polo matches.
Licensed medical aesthetician Phyllis Gasparri performs each facial treatment at Skin Perfect, drawing on more than 25 years of experience as she treats acne and wrinkles during services that emphasize clinical approaches to skincare. Among her weapons of choice are lasers—which she uses to reduce scar tissue and remove hair and tattoos—and exfoliation tools such as microdermabrasion wands and chemical-peel solutions. To keep up their progress, clients can take home products from SkinCeuticals and Cell Renewal Systems or purchase one of the shop’s own line of mini facial steamers, which sterilize and clean the face while discreetly opening envelopes within a 50-yard radius.
The instructors at Chi's Martial Arts Training Center work to hone the physiques and mental self-discipline of their students. Led by extensively certified owner and master instructor Sifu Charles R. Chi, self-defense experts lead kids through moves that can help develop motor skills and boost self-confidence. Adult students can get heart rates pumping in fitness-centric classes inspired by mixed martial arts, kickboxing, and archival videos of Richard Simmons doing the wave.
Fit Body Boot Camp instructors guide clients toward their fitness and weight-loss goals at locations throughout the world. They lead group workouts that integrate cardio exercise with resistance training and weight training, keeping sessions varied in order to avoid disheartening plateaus. Nutritional guidance supplements tailored fitness programs to ensure that clients are properly fueled to lose, gain, or maintain their weight.
During Group and Cuddles and Strokes swim sessions, the aqua aces at Saf-T-Swim equip bipeds with the skills and safety techniques necessary for conquering liquid-filled lands. Group classes sport student/instructor ratios as small as four to one, giving each floater more personalized attention as he or she learns to glide through the water more gracefully than a troupe of manatee ballerinas. Buyers can purchase multiple Groupons to allow families and friends to gain aqueous footing in the same welcoming environment among their peers and other swim scholars.