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.
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.
A joint venture between a professional boxer and a team of kickboxing-equipment tycoons, Title Boxing Club maintains a network of dozens of studios spread across 19 states, building a devoted clientele with boxing- and kickboxing-themed classes. Each workout uses cardio training to satisfy people’s innate desire to punch and kick something other than a vaudevillian jukebox. Participants build strong muscle tissue by delivering powerful blows to punching bags, and build flexibility and agility by practicing kicks and hooks. Students can build their core strength and endurance with medicine balls and burpees, enlist a qualified personal trainer to practice their newfound skills in the ring, or burn calories during intense full-body Power Hour workouts.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Featuring Les Mills group workout classes, Body Boutique has been facilitating fitness training for women of all ages and fitness levels for more than 20 years. Body Boutique's memberships include admission to group exercise classes, yoga and Pilates classes, and use of the spa, including the jacuzzi, dry sauna, and koala-free eucalyptus steam room. Members can train misbehaving hearts on state-of-the-art cardio equipment and free weights or, for an additional charge, partake in on-site nutrition workshops and personal-training sessions. Body Boutique is open seven days a week to accommodate customer needs.
Nestled inside a repurposed 1927 cottage, the arts-and-crafters of Sunfire Ceramics guide paint-spattered guests through embellishing personalized pottery or creating fused-glass art. In the open studio, guests can peruse the monochromatic selection of microwave- and dishwasher-safe paintable pottery ($6–$12 on average) before adorning a plate or decorative frame with more than 50 bright underglazes. Stencils, stamps, sponges, and paintbrush-wielding woodland creatures assist guests in realizing their artistic visions. Fused glass projects lie in wait to become translucent masterpieces: dichroic metallic glass transforms into pendants ($10–$12), sun catchers ($12), or the world’s most dangerous windshield as the amicable staff offers sage advice before spiriting the art pieces away for firing.