My Gym Children's Fitness Center, which currently has more than 200 international locations, was founded more than 20 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. Tots as young as 6 weeks can take a month or two of weekly classes, all designed to incorporate the latest physiological, psychological, and meteorological research. One-hour Waddlers sessions for babies and parents introduce tots aged 14–22 months to mobility, agility, and social skills as they build block towers and participate in puppet shows. Other classes include Tiny Tykes, a class for parents and babies that focuses on movement, as well as Mighty Mites and Whiz Kids, classes for more independently mobile children aimed at mastering motor skills to build strength, balance, and agility.
For older kids, independent gym classes such as Champions and Cardio Kids build self-esteem, fitness skills, and muscles for future speed-texting showdowns. My Gym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to develop youngsters' strength while stimulating their giggle-plexes—carving out a place for creativity and face-to-face engagement in the face of technological temptations and giant robotic faces.
After cartwheeling through a decorated cheerleading career in high school and college, and time spent as a coach, Aleisha Lutzen decided to offer up her expertise to the next generation. To that end, she opened Exceptional Athletics Nebraska in 2011. By equipping her gym with mats and partial spring floors, she readied it for serious cheerleading practice, stunting, tumbling, and mid-workout naps. Classes, coached by Aleisha?who is a certified National Cheer Judge?and her staff of trained instructors, range from purely recreational cheer to competitive team cheer and advanced tumbling. And while their tots tumble, parents can chart their progress from a viewing room that provides unobstructed sightlines of each back-handspring.
The YMCA of Greater Omaha brings people together at 10 locations with character-building programs that strengthen participants' involvement in their community. Adults can get a head start on their New Year's fitness resolutions with body sculpting, Pilates, and other tummy-toning group fitness classes, while kids can expend some energy at a drop-in child-care center that is free while parents work out. YMCA members also enjoy reduced rates on swim lessons and youth sports, as well as free senior programs. All locations except the LaFern Williams Y offer indoor pools for aquatic antics that cannot be properly enjoyed in a bathtub's limited splashing-real estate.
Today, it's undeniable: Jazzercise is a worldwide empire, spanning more than 1,800 locations and 32,000 weekly classes across the globe. It's also hip; gone are the leotards and legwarmers of the 1980s, replaced with a high-intensity blend of cardio, strength training, kickboxing and power yoga performed to hits by chart-toppers from Shakira to Justin Timberlake. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set, with recent additions such as Fusion, Core, and Strike broadening the workouts' variety and application. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background. This sense of community keeps Jazzercise devotees coming back, but so too do the results; benefits ranging from weight loss and boosted core strength to increased flexibility and stress relief.
Jazzercise's continued success can be traced to the innovation of its founder, Judi Sheppard Missett. While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, she 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. Little did she know that this ?just for fun? class was the prototype for what would become the Jazzercise sensation.