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.
Though the certified instructors at Zen in the District – Yoga each lay claim to different style specialties—Hatha, Vinyasa, Sanga, and Amrite among them—they share the aim of heightened self-awareness. Their classes cater to all fitness levels, focusing on introspection more than flawless posing technique or perfect nostril positioning during breath work. Whether they are inside the studio or on the courthouse lawn across the street, the teachers strive to downplay stress with caring vibes. They also apply their compassion to community projects, demonstrating yoga for interested Girl Scout troops and regularly donating to the Seagate Food Bank.
A cardio workout at Fitness 19 doesn’t just mean elevating your heart rate—it means choosing among state-of-the-art Life Fitness cardio machines, which range from treadmills and ellipticals to stair climbers and freight elevators. Free weights, such as plate-loaded Hammer Smith equipment, enhance the traditional strength workouts, and the squat machine and other weight apparatuses allow for more structured lifts. A team of personal trainers helps clients incorporate these fitness tools into personalized regimens, and workout classes such as the Silver Sneakers sessions for seniors.
After honing her basketball, softball, and volleyball skills in high school, Kelly Williams graduated to a new role: early-morning workout queen at the local gym. Despite this illustrious title, her love of fitness began to fade. Before long, she wondered if she liked to move at all. Luckily, hot yoga classes quelled her doubts. Filled with exercises that challenged her definition of working out, these routines rekindled her passion for exercise and inspired her to open Bikram Yoga Toledo. Here, instead of jogging and pedaling to summon sweat, yogis glisten like the sun’s diamond tiara as they pose in a torrid classroom. In addition to making muscles more pliable, the heat helps oust toxins from the body. Led by a certified instructor, each class revolves around 26 Hatha-inspired poses sequenced by yoga master Bikram Choudhury. Paired with two deep-breathing exercises, these beginner-friendly bends and balances tone muscles and push oxygen through the bloodstream to foster full-body wellness. After class, students can retire to the locker rooms, where hot showers dissolve pent-up stress and sweatbands fashioned from Fla-Vor-Ice pops.
As his students move through each Vinyasa pose in 90-degree heat, master yogi Brent Coldiron offers up optimistic and philosophical thoughts. Rather than the soft thrum of a gong or the soothing sounds of trickling water, he punctuates his poses with an eclectic mix of tunes from bands such as Led Zeppelin. Coldiron leaves the intensity of his classes up to each student, which allows him to accommodate clients of virtually any age, fitness level, or combustibility.