Today, it's undeniable: Jazzercise is a worldwide empire, spanning more than 1,800 locations and 32,000 weekly classes across the globe. It's also hip; gone are the leotards and legwarmers of the 1980s, replaced with a high-intensity blend of cardio, strength training, kickboxing and power yoga performed to hits by chart-toppers from Shakira to Justin Timberlake. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set, with recent additions such as Fusion, Core, and Strike broadening the workouts' variety and application. 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. This sense of community keeps Jazzercise devotees coming back, but so too do the results; benefits ranging from weight loss and boosted core strength to increased flexibility and stress relief.
Jazzercise's continued success can be traced to the innovation of its founder, Judi Sheppard Missett. While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, she 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. Little did she know that this ?just for fun? class was the prototype for what would become the Jazzercise sensation.
When Paul Melella, Jr. was seven years old, he was the target of a neighborhood bully. Eventually, Paul’s mother enrolled him in martial arts classes. For six months, Paul secretly studied the art of tae kwon do, until one day, he finally had the courage to stand up to his bully. Not only did the boy stop picking on Paul, they became good friends. In fact, Paul was even the best man at his wedding years later, where he helped out by cutting the cake with one swift roundhouse kick.
Paul established the Carmel branch of United Martial Arts Centers in 1996 to help others attain the same self-confidence and lifelong benefits that he found practicing martial arts as a child. Today, Paul is just one of UMAC's many professional instructors who lead programs for children, adults, and families at five different locations. Despite their different addresses, each of UMAC's locations sports the same positive atmosphere and spirit that comes from students working together toward a common goal.
Fifty miles outside the modern bustle of Manhattan, New York Dressage maintains the rustic heritage of horseback riding. Built in the late 1800s, a renovated barn houses mares and stallions as they wait to prance in the outdoor ring and indoor arena carpeted with beach-sand footing. Riders of all ages learn from experienced instructors how to handle the gentle mounts without the need for training hooves, mastering everything from basic horsemanship to trotting, cantering, and galloping. Amid shaded trees and open fields, the farm's idyllic setting betrays its fierce penchant for showmanship?along with hosting dressage shows, the farm owns horses that have appeared on TV shows such as The Sopranos and Law and Order.
Beginning from a height of 13,500 feet, thrill-seekers feel the ever-quickening pull of gravity for 60 seconds before a harnessed instructor deploys the parachute. Afterward, the tandem duo floats safely back to the ground while enjoying birds' eye views of the Philadelphia and Atlantic City skylines. This is a typical experience at Freefall Adventures, an organization that's been providing tandem jumps and skydiving lessons for more than 25 years. The team also works with professional videographers who can be hired to document the entire experience, including a pre-jump interview on the ground, the entire free fall, and the post-landing nap.
At Foundational Health and Fitness, a welcoming, all-woman faculty helps students achieve their fitness and health goals with a well-rounded program of group workouts and nutrition management. Certified holistic-nutrition consultant Wendy Dransfeld divulges tips to help clients stay on track, while Zumba, Pilates, and boot-camp sessions turn midsections and legs into sleek landscapes of muscle. In addition to releasing pent-up sweat, clients can tan in the studio's Sundash Level 3 beds, which impart golden glows without the discomfort of swallowing a handful of pennies.
Extreme athletes banded together to design Spartan Races' intense courses orchestrated over standardized distances, each strewn with natural and man-made obstacles to test mind-body fitness, resilience, stamina, and strength, designed to leave participants exhausted and exhilarated. In waves of about 200, runners collect smudges and stains as they perform box jumps, haul heavy sandbags, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as 3 miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.