Jazzercise Offers Fun and Fitness


4By Terry Rogers

Jazzercise is a fitness program that is designed around jazz dance, providing an excellent workout in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. The program has helped people lose weight, get fit and work toward a healthier lifestyle for over 45 years.

“Most people who come to Jazzercise love to dance,” said Marianne Magee, owner of the Central Delaware Jazzercise franchise. “But it is more than just dance as we incorporate strength training, cardio and stretching as part of all of our routines.” Ms. Magee says that Jazzercise workouts can burn up to 800 calories and that the effects are noticeable in as little as three weeks.

Jazzercise was founded by Judi Sheppard Missett, a professional dancer who toured on Broadway. In 1969, Ms. Missett was operating a dance studio in Chicago, but struggled with a 90 percent dropout rate in her classes. While searching for ways to improve retention, Ms. Missett stumbled upon the fact that most of her students were joining the class to lose weight, have fun and get in shape. They were not interested in becoming professional dancers. As an experiment, she turned the class away from the mirrors and became less critical of their movements. The experiment was a success and she began to see her retention rate improve.

One day, she noticed the mothers of the students sitting in chairs watching the class, reading or knitting. She realized that they were an untapped market for her classes and she created a “just for fun” dance class designed specifically for them. She used a jazz warmup and then up-tempo choreography using popular music. The program was a success, and when Ms. Missett’s family moved from Chicago to California, she brought the new program, which she had named Jazzercise, with her.

Now a nationwide franchise, Ms. Missett and her daughter choreograph all routines used throughout the franchise. A new routine is created every two months using songs that people recognize from the radio. Jazzercise never uses mixes or unknown versions of the songs, but use the original that people know and can sing along with.

“I have been teaching Jazzercise for 22 years,” Ms. Magee said. “We have five instructors and, combined, we have 35 years experience with the program. I love music and I love to dance which is why I have kept this a part of my life for so long.” Ms. Magee said that there are five different routines rotated throughout the month at the various locations where Jazzercise is offered in central Delaware.

Dance Mixx sculpts lean muscle through a high-intensity workout that mixes dance-based cardio with strength training. Fusion improves metabolism and burns fat through a high-intensity interval training that provides benefits for the total body. Core is a cardio and strength workout that focuses on the belly area, while Strike is a high-impact “jab and kick” workout that reduces fat, lowers stress and releases endorphins.

Jazzercise is offered in two locations in Milford. Classes are held at the Milford Bowling Lanes Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 5 pm as well as on Saturday at 8am. Low-impact classes are offered at the Milford Senior Center at 8:45 am on Tuesday and on Friday at 10:30 am. Additional classes are also offered in Dover. Five instructors, including Ms. Magee, Kathy Lingo, Stacey Sowers, Glenenise Parks and Alisa Kaiser, lead the classes.

“The class members encourage each other,” Ms. Magee said. “The majority of them come here to lose weight initially, but they learn that the entire program is about body, mind and spirit. Jazzercise is a great mood enhancer. We spend an hour pushing away problems through dance. Not only that, but it increases muscle mass and the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn.” Ms. Magee said that the retention rate at Jazzercise is significantly higher than other fitness programs as the average person remains with it for seven years.

For the month of January, Jazzercise is offering a special where anyone who wants to sign up can join for free. Interested individuals can sign up for the classes online at Jazzercise.com. After January 31, 2015, the cost for the classes is $35 per month and the fees can be automatically deducted from bank accounts. Ms. Magee says that anyone who wants to observe a class is free to attend at any time. Instructors are available before and after class to answer questions or address any concerns.

“Once you have registered for the classes, you can attend a Jazzercise session anywhere it is offered,” Ms. Magee said. “This means that even if you are on a business trip or on vacation, you can search for a class in the area and attend at no charge.”

Individuals interested in learning more about Jazzercise, are encouraged to visit the Central Delaware Jazzercise website at jcls.jazzercise.com/facility/jazzercise-milford-bowling-lanes or call Ms. Magee at 302-698-3020 for more information.