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.
My Gym Children's Fitness Center, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 20 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level (starting as young as 6 months) and designed to incorporate the latest physiological and psychological research. Tiny Tykes gets babies moving with help from their parents, Mighty Mites teaches toddlers self-reliance and beginning sports skills, and Champions, a class for kids aged 6–9, emphasizes the importance of using teamwork to master more complex sports skills and achieve group goals such as building a human pyramid to reach the cookie jar. My Gym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while stimulating their giggle-plexes. The noncompetitive environment fosters creativity and hands-on activities boost children's learning retention and fun quotient.
VaMeka Nelson, Fit Body Boot Camp's owner, knew she had a family history of diabetes and hypertension, and that if she didn't change her diet and lifestyle, she would head straight down the same path. After overcoming her struggle with unhealthy lifestyle habits and weight loss, VaMeka spearheaded Fit Body Boot Camp to motivate others in their journeys toward improved fitness and well-being. Throughout the week, sneakers pound upon the triple-bonded foam floors of her private studio as students undergo high-intensity routines combining cardio, resistance-training, core-training, and flexibility exercises. Further inspiring patrons to develop healthful habits, the trainers encourage them to follow nutrition advice and adhere to comprehensive custom meal plans. Their approach focuses on meals made up of lean meats, vegetables, and fruits, eschewing excessive sugar, salt, and bacon-wrapped donuts deep-fried in bacon-wrapped-donut fat.
Vision Quest Sport and Fitness promotes a five-pronged approach to fitness, covering cardiovascular, progressive resistance, proper diet, supplementation, and personal training. Like any decent clock factory, the clubs are open 24 hours a day, and each keeps its own schedule primed with group classes such as boxing, yoga, spinning, and hip-hop fitness. Body Sculpt sessions fashion forms with weights and bands, and Total Body Conditioning uses lighter weights and higher repetitions to create lean, mean muscle mass.
Members take part in complimentary wellness seminars from fitness experts to fine-tune their bodies, and teams of affiliated massage therapists, chiropractors, and nutrition gurus save skeletons and muscles from harmful injury.
Bally Total Fitness enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day guest pass includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, Step Fitness, and High-Impact Hopscotch (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts a bulk-building army of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.
"Discipline is an act of freedom." United Fitness Center's motto sums up the facility's approach to working out. By offering up high-intensity classes that challenge its members' willpower, agility, and endurance, the center pushes participants to dedicate themselves to life-changing fitness. The center furthers this end goal by incorporating the Fittest Warrior system, which tracks members' workout routines and nutrition, ensuring they are overhauling their lifestyles rather than sending their clone, whose DNA has been spliced with a bodybuilder's, to the gym.