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.
When Detric Smith says he's inspired by results, he isn't necessarily referencing someone's new six-pack or bulging biceps. He derives the most satisfaction from seeing his students return to a beloved sport, flaunt a new pants size, or move through the day without chronic pain. Backed by a degree in exercise science and multiple training certifications, he achieves these goals with attentive group and private programming. He adjusts his boot camps and personalized sessions to suit each guest's experience level, and nutritional guidance and regular body assessments keep them abreast of their progress. He also gives clients his phone number, encouraging them to call for moral support or for backup during protein-shake-related hostage situations.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
A body-strengthening leader in the region, The Pilates Center offers fledgling flexibles a healthful array of skilled, Stott Pilates–certified instructors, small class sizes, and a variety of beginner's sessions held six days a week. Founded by Joseph Pilates, the titular workout regimen works on lengthening the body while strengthening the core and toning the limbs, transforming sluggish and unmotivated bones closets into graceful soul sacks teeming with espresso-bean levels of energy. Alight upon various equipment, such as the Reformer, the Arc Barrel, the Cadillac, and the Model T, to enhance midsection fortitude while learning key movements and stretches.
Boot Camp Mania is a fitness boot camp designed specifically for women by professional trainer Todd Paul. Each 30-minute routine starts with stretching to warm up muscles and lull fat cells into a false sense of security. Music-based interval training steps up to the plate, sending fat flying with a combination of resistance training, core training, cardio training, and training wheels. Finally, fat-busters can relax with special stretches to slow speeding hearts. The collaborative group atmosphere is ideal for building friendships and plotting corporate takeovers.