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.
Where can future brides and grooms sample a piece of Sylvia Weinstock cake, admire the latest Vera Wang couture wedding gown, and get Bobbi Brown beauty tips, all under one roof? At venues from Los Angeles to New York, where Wedding Salon founder, Tatiana Byron, has organized a one-day luxury wedding showcase boasting some of the top vendors in the industry, introducing big-day ideas from top area vendors such as The Registry at Bloomingdale's, AMResorts, Lancome at Bergdorf Goodman, The Container Store, Magnolia Photo Booth, and celebrity wedding experts. Each event is designed to make attendees feel like guests at a sophisticated wedding, only the fellow partygoers might be celebrity wedding planners David Tutera or Colin Cowie, or dessert connoisseurs from Carlo?s Bakery ?the bakery behind TLC?s Cake Boss.
Byron has been cultivating her all-star connections for more than a decade. After working at Turner Broadcasting System and directing sales, marketing, and production for a trade-show company, she created her own planning company, 4pm Events. Byron began coordinating parties for famous faces including Joan Rivers, Mary J. Blige, and Lionel Richie?no easy task, given the limited number of vendors willing to build dance floors on the ceiling. Byron went on to create Wedding Salon expos to give future brides a taste of celebrity-caliber elegance. She also offers educational wedding boot camps that help duos avoid hidden costs and learn tips for planning their special day. Byron's services have been highlighted in numerous media, including features in the New York Times, the New York Post, and Fortune Small Business.
Camp Gladiator founder Ally Davidson?s childhood obsession with the outdoors and sports led her to pursue a degree in exercise physiology. After her 2008 win on the TV show American Gladiators, Ally decided to share her love of fitness with the world at large. Camp Gladiator reflects Ally's passion for fitness in its mission, which espouses their desire "to positively impact the physical fitness and ultimately the lives of as many people as possible." During Camp Gladiator Total Transformation, participants lose weight and gain energy in a friendly, positive environment. Over four-weeks, trainers focus on accountability, competition, motivation, and fun at multiple locations. Results are tracked during fitness assessments, body composition tests, and a fitness calendar, while nutrition counseling helps to maximize those results. Click here to view before and after images.
Davidson also leads boot camps in 13 U.S. cities, with each hosting multiple training locales. The upbeat staff of certified personal trainers lead patrons of all ages and fitness levels through four-week outdoor boot camps, earning Camp Gladiator a Hot Spot title from Women's Health magazine's Fitness Awards in 2013, Best Boot Camp from Rare magazine in 2010, Best of Big D 2010?2013 from D magazine, and Best Outdoor Boot Camp 2012 from Austin Fit magazine.
Co-owners Cindy Mastry and Jen Lowery forged the studio's varied yoga curriculum by alloying their extensive training histories. Cindy set off toward inner peace in the 1960s, holding poses alongside her grandmother. Combining her early experiences in yoga with years of dance and fitness training, she opened a home yoga practice and joined the Exalted Warrior Foundation to bring yogic healing to injured military personnel. Jen Lowery studied under several yoga masters to perfect her technique. She deepened her practice by completing an 800-hour Yoga Traditions Philosophy course, led by lauded expert Georg Feuerstein, in a single day.
Despite their rigorous training, Cindy and Jen tend to emphasize the relaxing, fun aspects of yoga through classes in Vinyasa flow, stretching, and partner work. Their own 200-hour course for aspiring yoga teachers imparts the values of 8 Limb Vinyasa flow, covering anatomy, pose sequencing, pedagogic techniques, and ways to climb spider webs without alerting the spider.
The gym looks like equal parts Olympic training facility and old warehouse?here, exercisers hoist themselves up rows of pull-up bars, grunt around a collection of kettlebells, and hop through jump-rope routines. On a power-lifting platform, a lifter explodes from a squat, hoisting a plate-loaded bar up to his shoulders and then dropping under it to catch the weight over his head. Elsewhere, athletes do dips on gymnast rings and build a sweat on rowing machines.
This low-tech setting is typical of all true CrossFit gyms. Though the equipment may be basic, the results are not: CrossFit workouts develop all measures of physical fitness?from power to cardiovascular endurance?through workouts that are broad, general, and inclusive. This approach is often described as specializing in not specializing: it develops physical fitness in ways equally beneficial to everyone, from professional mixed martial artists and police officers to weekend softball players.
CrossFit gyms typically start clients in a foundational program where trainers teach the basic movements, such as the squat, dead lift, and pull-up. Every exercise is scalable to a version that clients can complete?a pull-up, for example, can be scaled back to a negative pull-up, a static hang, or body-weight row with gymnast rings. It can also be scaled to a more challenging version, such as the kipped pull-up. After students learn CrossFit's basic movements, they move on to open group classes, which follow the ever-changing WOD, or Workout of the Day. These workouts are short and intense, and they foster camaraderie through frequent team circuits. In addition to supervising WOD class, trainers coach members on nutrition, advocating a caveman-style diet of low-glycemic carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats, and lean proteins such as raptor meat.
Caution CrossFit founder Dominick Maurici believes that CrossFit training is, as he puts it on his website, a “way of life and well being. It’s the fitness that you create out of yourself.” No stranger to the pursuit of physical fitness, Maurici spent his high-school years competing in soccer and football before going on to earn a black belt in tae kwon do. The health benefits and jealous looks he received from bathing-suit mannequins taught him the rewards of training in multiple disciplines. When he found the CrossFit program, he felt right at home with the varied and multidimensional exercise form. He even became a certified CrossFit trainer and went on to compete against other leading instructors across the southwest in the CrossFit Games.
As the Caution CrossFit skull and biohazard logo stares down from the cinder-brick walls of their practice space, Maurici and his team lead students through an ever-changing workout of the day. Full of intensified circuit training, their workouts make use of the facilities multiple rowing machines, Olympic barbells, kettlebells, jump ropes, plyometric boxes, and suspension rings. In keeping with Maurici’s love of training across multiple disciplines, the studio now offers yoga instruction as well.