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.
The trainers at Art of Strength eschew newfangled machines. Instead, they employ only fitness tools that have stood the test of time: weight balls, ropes, logs, sandbags, and boxes. Ropes use the weight of the human body to build strength, and the relentless swing of kettlebells works the body as a whole and torches calories. Weights clatter beneath hanging rings and inspirational quotes chalked on the walls. Bass thuds and happy grunts fill the studio as patrons flip truck tires or leap onto boxes. The old-school equipment forms the core of classes, which leave patrons as strong as ancient warriors or the guys who had to push ancient warriors’ strollers.
In boxing, the shoeshine combo uses 10 rapid-fire punches to disorient opponents. The move is often hard to execute, as its success relies almost entirely on sheer speed. Since it opened its first gym in 2006 in Kansas, Title Boxing Club has grown with the speed and fervor of a shoeshine combo. Today, there are more than 100 locations throughout the US, and part-owners Danny Campbell (a former pro boxer) and Tony Carbajo (of Title Boxing Company Equipment) bring firsthand experience to the fitness chain.
Each non-contact, non-fighting gym is stocked with Title Boxing Company heavy punching bags and gear that students are welcome to use free of charge during classes. The boxing and kickboxing classes teach men and women the fundamentals while helping them get in shape.
With a special focus on beginner musicians, Riff Factory instructs eighth-note-hungry students on melodious matters through private lessons. Most of Riff Factory's savvy instructors have either collegiate musical education or experience performing in professional treble-clef-minded bands. Rental instruments are included in each lesson, allowing students to save their own cherished noisemakers for crowd-pleasing ukulele smashing.
The Absolute Beginner series meets once a week for four weeks and provides novices with the basic tools they need to get started down their yoga path with nice posture. During your month-long session, under the expert guidance of an experienced, friendly instructor, you will learn the fundamentals of yoga asana (poses) and pranayama (breath work), as well as gain a general understanding of the different forms of yoga so that you can choose to continue training in a style that best suits your current physical condition and goals. Call ahead or go to the Yoga Center's website to register for your four-week series.
With more than 30 years of kid-entertaining experience, The Little Gym provides a safe and fun locale where kids can stay active in a nurturing and noncompetitive environment. Visiting youngsters glean skills and confidence from professionally developed programs while participating in hands-on activities that help enhance emotional, intellectual, and social skills. Trained instructors lead a bevy of gymnastic, dance, and sports-skill classes, kept small in size to promote personalized education that will keep the indefatigable energy motors of little tikes revving while also boosting listening skills, attention spans, and confidence.