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How I Found Joy At Jazzercise

I struggled for years to find movement I truly love. Here’s how I finally found that at Jazzercise.

The ladies at my Jazzercise studio send me a sweet, encouraging postcard after every 25 classes I attend.

I’ve struggled my whole life to love exercise.

You won’t find me at the hotel gym when I’m on vacation. 

I’ve never felt a runner’s high (only runner’s knee).

And I’m not one of those people who “just can’t sit still”. I can sit plenty still. Preferably under a blanket watching Netflix.

Yet over the years, I’ve aerobicized, spun, down-dogged, boot camped, and tried pilates. I’ve logged hours with at-home workouts and paid personal trainers. I’ve run several 5Ks and one very ill-advised 10K. I’ve just never loved it.

I’d heard the advice to “do exercise you enjoy” a billion times but figured working out would always feel a little bit like a chore for me.  

Then I Found Jazzercise

Two years ago, a client gifted me a Class Pass for free classes at area gyms, and Jazzercise immediately sprang to mind.

A neighbor had mentioned that her friend owned a nearby Jazzercise studio. “It’s supposed to be fun,” she said.

I’m an enthusiastic dancer at dancing at weddings (and in my kitchen), coordinated enough to keep a beat and eventually learn how to Floss. Yet I’ve slunk out of every Zumba and hip hop class I’ve tried in embarrassment.

I had a feeling Jazzercise would be my sweet spot.

When I walked into the studio with my Class Pass in hand, regulars welcomed me with open arms. I quickly learned that many of the them had been Jazzercising for 10, 20, even 30 years or more. Some Jazzercised every single day. Some twice a day. “It’s addictive!” they warned me with a smile. We laughed.

They were right. I spent every cent of my Class Pass on Jazzercise, then bought a 10-day pass and went nearly every day. When that ran out, I signed on the dotted line for an annual membership. Two years late, I looked forward to every single class.

For the first time in my life, I found movement that feels truly JOYFUL. 

My membership card on the day I joined Jazzercise.

Why I Fell Hard for Jazzercise

Some people giggle at the mere mention of Jazzercise, a dance-based workout that conjures visions of leotards, legwarmers, and women grapevining in 1984. 

There are still grapevines. And legwarmers–on MY legs, after a friend knit me a pair to wear to class in the winter.

There are chassés and arabesques to indulge my inner Broadway dancer. But the choreography is simple and repetitive enough to learn quickly, with new routines and songs introduced every couple of months, ranging from Lizzo and Taylor Swift to K-Pop and Country.

The happy truth is that dancing in a room full of women of all ages feels like a celebration to me. It’s like starting the day with a group dance party.

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No mirrors in the studio!

What else keeps me coming back

No mirrors. There are no mirrors in the Jazzercise studio, which means no opportunities to pass judgment on the way I look or don’t look. Without mirrors, I am a cross between Jennifer Beals in Flashdance and JLo at the Super Bowl halftime show. I stopped wearing baggy joggers and big t-shirts to class in favor of tights and tanks that actually fit and feel cooler when I sweat.

Strength training in every workout. My entire body feels stronger than it’s ever been, since strength training with weights or bands is incorporated into every class. I’m so grateful for that because I know maintaining muscle is critical as I get older.

Constantly changing music and routines. Jazzercise releases new songs and routines every few months, so set lists are always changing. With so many years’ worth of songs to choose from, instructors blends old with new, bringing back favorite routines while introducing new ones.

But most of all, Jazzercise feels like exercise I GET to do, not HAVE to do. At this point in my life, what’s most important to me is to move in a way that makes me happy.

I’m thrilled that finally, in my 40s, I genuinely “do exercise I enjoy” when it comes to movement–and that for the first time in my life, exercise doesn’t feel like a struggle. It feels like joy. 


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