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.
Even before he founded PowerFit Bootcamp, JR Spear always felt a calling to transform people into fitness machines. A fourth-degree black belt and studied martial artist, Spear spent years training future Marine Corps officers and Iraqi soldiers in self-defense and combat skills. Later, Spear taught his own MMA fitness and cardio-kickboxing classes, along with personal and group training sessions.
At PowerFit Bootcamp, he and his staff of fitness instructors encourage each student to persevere by leading motivational and high-energy classes. At 12 indoor and outdoor locations, students undergo full-body workouts designed to jettison fat and tone muscle. Trainers welcome students of all stripes, giving them a period of time to complete each move, rather than a number of repetitions, encouraging each student to do as much as he or she can without feeling uncomfortable, overexerting, or resorting to time travel. Along the way, coaches track progress and motivate students by noting benchmarks during physical fitness tests on the first Monday and Tuesday of each month.
D's Yoga Home's certified instructors and holistic healers foster a community of mind-and-body wellness with eclectic yoga classes. Like Baldwin brothers, the schedule boasts diversity and features varying levels of difficulty, including introductory classes designed to acquaint fledgling flexers with the basic poses, proper alignment, and breathing techniques. Mixed-level classes hone strength and endurance with Vinyasa-inspired flowing poses, whereas restorative practices utilize supportive props to nurture the body during hip openers and back bends.
Saint Louis Workout helps members get fit with a fleet of weightlifting equipment, high-tech cardio machines, and more than 30 weekly classes. Elliptical machines assist in bouts of calorie singeing, and free weights tone muscles more efficiently than replacing one's hands with bowling balls. A full roster of classes includes Zumba, yoga, and interval-training sessions, and the brigade of seasoned certified personal trainers customize workouts, drawing from experience in such fields as running, health science, and bodybuilding. With onsite showers and a whirlpool, the gym helps workouts and relaxation fit into busy days.
As they enter the training circuit 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. Thirty seconds 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.
St. Louis' Original Spinning's warehouse-like facility accommodates swarms of cyclers with a robust schedule of heart-pumping spin classes. Energizing beats reverberate throughout the spinning room, where certified spinning instructors lead up to 40 students during varied workouts that get legs pumping. This pump is achieved through strengthening hill work, exhilarating sprints, and simulated atmospheric jaunts with friendly extraterrestrials. In a separate space, the team guides bikers as they complement their riding with yoga stretch sessions and core classes designed to bolster core muscles.