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.
Dave Gerry started the Princeton Club with three simple tenets in mind: great trainers, exceptional equipment, and easy access. To realize that dream, he assembled a team of American College of Sports Medicine–certified personal trainers to helm the cardio and strength-training centers 24 hours a day.
Whether working out solo, in a group class, or with a trainer to remind them that bench-pressing beehives is safer with a spotter, guests can drop their young ones off at the free childcare center. Splashes fill the natatorium as swimmers paddle across the six-lane lap pool, as the resistance-current pool's adjustable waves enable guests to walk in place. A dip in the whirlpool soothes stress, and the steam room's eucalyptus aromatherapy and sauna's rejuvenating heat send bodies back into the world refreshed. Above the club, tennis and soccer players soak in vistas of Madison as they duke it out on the rooftop garden's turf. The competition continues indoors on basketball, racquetball, and volleyball courts.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in kinesiology exercise science, ACE-certified trainer and Fit Fun Bootcamps founder Dustin Maher designed MamaTone Fitness to help moms vanquish weight gain after childbirth. Inspired by his own mother—who cooked his siblings and him healthful meals but rarely had enough time to exercise—Maher strives to imbue his clients with the motivation to do both. Whether training new moms, moms-to-be, dads who had moms, or curiously fast sons whose moms found them in the middle of a Kansas corn field climbing out of a spaceship, his group classes and boot camps immerse participants in a full-body workout with moral support from neighboring exercisers.
Anytime Fitness, which boasts more than 1,800 clubs in North America, makes it easier for average folks to etch out time for exercise by doing one simple thing: staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. As fitness seekers challenge themselves on cardio and Hammer Strength machines and hoist Iron Grip free weights in clean, well-stocked facilities, security monitoring ensures they?re safe and producing enough sweat to meet official government standards. Members can also ramp up their exercise regimens with the help of Anytime Fitness?s staff of personal trainers, who demonstrate moves and sling motivating tips. After workouts, guests can shower in the private restrooms or hop into one of the tanning booths available 24 hours a day.
At Prairie Athletic Club, fitness is not dependent on the weather. No matter your sport, you can find a space to play it while avoiding the snow. The club boasts an indoor soccer field, track and field space, racquetball courts, and basketball courts. If swimming is your forte, you can dip into the family pool, six lane lap pool with deep water, or the 90 degree warm water pool. After a cardio workout, build up muscle strength in the weight room or dip into the adult and family whirlpools and infrared saunas to relax tense muscles.
Snap Fitness's easyFIT monitor is a small, clip-on accelerometer that helps keep track of daily exercise. Unlike pedometers that merely measure steps and spy on daydreams, the easyFIT monitor senses the intensity and duration of physical activity, transmogrifying those stats into simple, numerical points that help assess activity levels from sedentary to peak performance. In addition to tracking exercise in real time, easyFIT monitors can connect to the wearer's personal web portal to upload data and create fitness graphs that help show progress, snag exercise suggestions, and stave off the temptation of living next to a hamburger farm. Watch a video about the easyFit here.