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.
Since opening to the public in 1926, Benbow Inn has entertained Hollywood elite, foreign dignitaries, and traveling motorists alike with a wealth of both outdoor and indoor pursuits, nestled amid the towering redwoods that share the banks of the Eel River. Early on, the Inn’s prime spot near the Avenue of the Giants made it a popular stopover for tourists traveling up the coast or searching for a more impressive Christmas tree. The sprawling complex’s tranquil gardens and majestic mountain setting provide an ideal respite from the road for weary travelers. Though the hotel’s long-held commitment to upkeep and service has earned it a place on the National Register of Historic Places and a four-diamond rating from AAA, its real treasures lie outside its Tudor walls. Visitors while away the time with such activities as swimming and boating on the river, perfecting pitches on the 9-hole Benbow Valley Golf Course, or hiking through the redwoods of the Kings Range while longing for prehensile tales from which to swing.
In addition to hotel rooms and cottages, Benbow Inn hosts campers on more than 100 pull-through and back-in sites at its RV Resort, which won the Best of The West Award in 2004. Here, travelers enjoy the peace and quiet of their spot in the woods, which balances the rusticity of the outdoors with such creature comforts as cement patios, picnic tables, and full hookups, including cable TV.
Course at a Glance: