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.
Dexter Tenison knows how to lose weight. Weighing nearly 300 pounds after college, Tenison decided it was time to make a change. Throwing himself into martial arts and personal training, he discovered a healthier lifestyle that he realized was inspiring others to reach their own goals. With that, he decided to open Memphis Adventure Boot Camp. Voted Best Health Club by Memphis Most in 2011 and 2103, Tenison?s all-female boot camps combine the group vibe he found in his martial-arts classes with the personal attention and drastic results from personal training. Camps span several weeks at a time, aiming to whip frames into shape with ever-changing fitness regimes that spice up traditional exercise, such as jogging and resistance training, with fresh add-ins, including obstacle courses, lunging, and building body bridges across quicksand. To cater to all conditioning levels, every workout is easily modifiable, and no participants will ever be pushed to overexert themselves.
Snap Fitness's around-the-clock gyms enable members to work on their physical well-being with a cornucopia of fitness equipment. With 24-hour access, members don't have to let The Man tell them when to help themselves to Snap's strength and cardio equipment, which features built-in TVs and other media diversions. For those who exercise during conventional hours, Snap's friendly, unintimidating atmosphere welcomes patrons of all ability levels, unlike schoolyard dodge-ball squads. Members also enjoy nationwide access to all Snap Fitness locations, ideal for working out while traveling. For a dose of custom advice, patrons can seek out a personal-training session with a certified coach, who helps them assess and address their fitness goals. Clients reap the benefit of individual attention as a personal trainer helps them tackle weight loss, prepare for an arm-wrestling competition, or unveil the mysteries of arcane cable-weight machines.
At Salsa Memphis, renowned dancer and choreographer Edgar "TunTun" Mendez leads each lesson, deploying skills he attained through years of dancing as a professional, performing onstage with Tito Puente and onscreen for Marc Anthony, as well as in salsa congresses and competitions. Within his airy, yellow-walled studio, Mendez shows students of all ages and ability levels how to perform a range of fast-paced, seductive salsa moves, beginning with basic steps, right and left turns, and cross-body leads. Intermediate and advanced lessons are designed for those ready to move on to more complex combinations, such as how to dip a partner in an airplane aisle. A private lesson bestows fledgling dancers with focused one-on-one time with the salsa professor for quicker learning and personalized tips. Lessons can be taken at the student's convenience, allowing dancers to learn on their own time as opposed to adhering to a weekly schedule.
Push Pilates owner Val Russell draws from her 10 years of experience studying human physiology and lifelong practice of dance, gymnastics, and circus arts to construct the studio's curriculum of movement-based workouts. During Pilates sessions, students can either learn to perform floor-based mat exercises or opt to work out on the spring-loaded Reformers, Cadillacs, and Wunda Chairs. Yoga-class instructors incorporate athletic poses into flowing Vinyasa-style sequences, linking one pose to the next with balance-challenging movement and breathing exercises. During aerial-arts lessons, students learn to reenact scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey as they dangle from ceiling-mounted silk slings or metal hoops. Outside of the classroom, the center's massage services can soothe and rejuvenate any weary muscles or vestigial wings.
Although painting is a solitary experience for many artists, it becomes a color-strewn party at ArtJamN. Enthusiastic staff members encourage participants to interact, inspire each other, and even collaborate on the same canvas. Painters are outfitted with a bevy of paints and textures that add dimension to magnum opuses and make it easier to crawl into someone else's painting and take a nap. Both regular painting sessions and private parties introduce burgeoning artists to a cornucopia of artistic styles as they intermingle and sip from their own stash of adult beverages.