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.
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.
Like a beacon of fitness, Envision Memphis sits atop the historic Cadre Building in downtown Memphis. There, personal trainers await to whip clients into shape with boot camps, yoga classes, and one-on-one sessions. Visitors working out alone keep equally busy. Cardio and weight machines tone muscle alongside body balls, and ample floor space allows for plentiful pushups or spontaneous break dancing. In addition, a full-size boxing ring with padded safety equipment hosts full-contact kickboxing practice.
Fitness Plus is small enough that the friendly staff knows your name, but big enough to prevent any Three Stoogery amongst exercisers using the free weights. After one of Fitness Plus's friendly workoutsmen gives you your orientation (call ahead to book your orientation session), you'll be free to run miles on the cardio machines, bench press pounds on the weight machines, or sweat out hurt feelings during a class in Fitness Plus's spacious group exercise room, which has a state-of-the-art sound system and a specially engineered cushioned floor to protect you from injury and pro-wrestler attacks. Fitness Plus offers step classes, Pilates, and cardio every week; check out the schedule to see what's going on.