Attitude Dance Company's students let their confidence shine through, whether they're performing in a studio recital or battling for first place at a dance competition. Instructors lead lessons in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap, and contemporary; they also show recreational dancers how to torch calories in cardio-centric Zumba classes. During the summer, they welcome students for weeklong dance camps as well.
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.
With locales dappled throughout the Southeast and Midwest, the brains behind Workout Anytime funnel more than three decades of fitness-industry expertise into filling their gyms with positive vibes and state-of-the-art equipment. The fitness gurus spread Magnum-brand strength-training machines and cutting-edge treadmills—whose frames can support up to 500 pounds—throughout their hygienic antimicrobial floors. They also provide certified personal trainers, nutritional guidance, and weight-loss plans.
Workout Anytime's doors are open to members 24 hours a day every day of the year, permitting access to public exercise zones and areas that offer tanning and massage sessions. Each gym also strives to cultivate a familial atmosphere with staffers who memorize each guest's name and carve each one's Thanksgiving turkey.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Held at Mind Body Kinetics, a fitness studio that emphasizes holistic health, 45-minute boot-camp classes help students to build strong, flexible muscles. Each session, led by a seasoned instructor, revolves around TRX suspension straps, which use the body as a weight rather than hurling it through a basketball hoop. Ideal for new students and those looking to intensify their workouts, TRX exercises easily tailor to many different fitness levels. The class also incorporates kettlebells, which tone muscles in the arms and shoulders, and BOSU platforms to cultivate balance and core strength more effectively than doing crunches on a Jello jiggler. Camp takes place six times a week, within the sunny yellow walls of the studio, obviating workouts composed of shoveling slush and boxing defenseless snowmen.