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.
Walking through Belmont Mansion's Victorian-era plantation is like exploring an alternate history. The stories presented by the 2,000 artifacts that fill the 18 rooms are all true, but in place of the 19th-century South's traditionally male-dominated household, tour takers witness evidence of a plantation controlled, enlivened, and energized by a woman. After inheriting a fortune from her first husband, Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham oversaw the construction of the mansion with her second husband, basing the style off an Italian villa and completing the project's first phase in 1853. Over the years it would change appearances as dramatically as a caterpillar on Halloween—sometimes by her hand and sometimes not. She commissioned a Prussian-born architect to expand and embellish the house six years after completion, and fled as the Civil War's Battle of Nashville destroyed most of the plantation's outbuildings, including the greenhouse, bear house, and zoo. After Adelicia sold her home in 1887, it transformed into a girl's school, then a girl's academy and junior college, and, in 1952, became part of the Belmont University campus.
Today, Belmont Mansion is the largest house museum in Tennessee, inviting visitors to wander past cast-iron neoclassical statues in the gardens, to cross the fountain courtyard, and to study the original water tower and few remaining gazebos. Stoic marble busts, decorative boxes, and a four-post bed fill the interior's 10,000 square feet, alongside more than 120 works of art. During a themed art tour, which is not included with this Groupon, expert docent Mancil Ezell introduces visitors to these masterpieces, including two 400-year-old Flemish paintings. And for those bright-eyed visitors captivated by the surroundings, the staff also coordinates weddings, building on a tradition established when Adelicia married her third husband on the grounds in 1867.
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.
In 2001, Carrie Rezabek Dorr's only venue for her Pure Barre workouts—a blend of dance, Pilates, and strengthening stretches—was the basement of an office building. Crowds drawn by Carrie's choreographing expertise and the infectious music of her routines necessitated expansion, however, and eight years later, Pure Barre spread its franchises to what is now more than 160 locations across the country, spurred by mentions in Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Health magazines.
Pure Barre guides students through precise isometric movements that craft lean, not bulky, muscles. By flowing through scalable maneuvers that balance limbs against a ballet barre, physiques can lift and tighten traditional problem areas such as the thighs, abs, seat, and arms. The total-body workout is accessible to all fitness levels, and can help new mothers to regain their desired shape without leading the daycare's piggyback carpool. High-energy, intimate classes with small amounts of attendees ensure personalized adjustments and tips, allowing each guest to derive the deepest possible burn from the workout's alternating strength and stretch drills. Pure Barre also offers private barre-ties, DVDs, equipment, designer exercise apparel, and more.
Stephanie Williams, a licensed permanent-makeup artist and owner of BrowZnAround Eyebrow Studio, leads a team of licensed aestheticians as they work to define clients' eyes with traditional and high-tech aesthetic services. To highlight eyes by cleaning up eyebrows, the team offers four approaches to brow sculpting: soothing tea-tree crème waxing, sugaring, threading, and tweezing. Stephanie applies permanent makeup to create lovely brows and eyeliner that never smudge or run, even when recipients wake up crying in a cold sweat beneath a waterfall.
Armed with an army of innovative and certified shutterbugs, Olan Mills Portrait Studio provides families with high-quality portraits, continuing a mission that was established more than 75 years ago by founder Olan Mills Sr. Skilled in the art of capturing infants, children, families, and bunny-ears-giving ghost orbs on film, Olan Mills’s experienced smile snappers will take a series of poses amid a variety of backgrounds and lighting options. The studio is equipped with a selection of props—including numbers for birthdays, toys, and boxes—and patrons may bring their own photo-enlivening items from home. The resulting photos find their way to prints in natural color, black and white, or sepia tones; they can also be immortalized in the studio's signature Old Masters style, a canvas brushed with highlights to recreate look of an oil painting. Like the gentlemanly mariners of ages past with their full schedule of sea-battles, the photographers welcome appointments, but do not require them.