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.
YMCA of East Tennessee holds fast to its three-fold mission: to encourage healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility. Each of their five locations brims with cardio and weight equipment, as well as digital ActivTrax kiosks, which print out customized workout plans based on each guests' information. Instructors lead group fitness classes for adults and stacks of trench-coat-clad babies disguised as adults, offering sessions that range from kickboxing to water aerobics. In addition to specialized sessions for seniors, they also lead sports programs for kids, such as swimming, basketball, and karate, as well as host a youth-based leader's club.
The folks at YMCA of East Tennessee offer memberships to military families and host programs for kids who have dropped out of school or who have been suspended. Their scholarship program helps families send their kids to the YMCA's fun, safe, character-developing programs no matter their financial circumstances.
Water churns under the circular red paddles of a massive, wooden wheel, and, as dusk falls, the green shoreline slowly waves goodbye. Strings of bright holiday lights shimmer on two wooden decks, reflecting in the water’s darkening surface. The moon looks on.
On both evening and day cruises, Tennessee Riverboat Company’s captains steer the Star of Knoxville and its passengers past the river’s shoreline foliage. Buffet-style meals and an ever-changing lineup of live entertainment captivate guests without forcing them to bunk with prop comedians. Seasoned captains pilot their ships through calm waters, pointing out spots of interest while passengers lounge in air-conditioned or heated interiors. Participants may also take to the dance floor as decks fill with gospel or country tunes on themed music cruises, where performers encourage participation to help expose stowaway Dolly Partons.
Visitors enter a gleeful realm of recreation and friendly competition amid the indoor and outdoor attractions of Putt-Putt Golf & Games. The emerald corridors of 54 mini golf holes meander throughout the playscape, forming three 18-hole courses that gradually escalate in both difficulty and the territorial aggression of their native windmills. The thunderous clap of bat barrels smacking line-drives resonates from the baseball and softball cages, where mechanical hurlers sling baseballs at four different speeds and softballs at fast- and slow-pitch standards. More than 50 arcade and ticket-redemption games hungrily devour tokens in the game room, and guests can sate their appetites with pizza ($9 for a large), hot dogs ($1.50), and scoops of Blue Bunny ice cream ($2 for one scoop).
Larry Schmittou, a renowned minor-league coach, executive, and overall baseball legend, traded diamonds for lanes to become president and co-owner of Strike & Spare Family Entertainment. Bowlers, gamers, and bar-goers can convene at locations across four states, each booming with the thundering sound of balls clashing against pins and confused children tap-dancing down the alley. The center is open 365 days per year, with lights and music enticing adults into the bar for a drink or snack, all while the arcade’s bells and whistles distract young ones until the lanes close. A bowling-rewards card incentivizes trips to the alley with credits for future purchases.