What is Jazzercise? Everything You Need to Know


Have you heard of the latest craze in fitness sessions and gym classes? There are so many, but one of the newest ones is called Jazzercise.

You’re possibly looking at your list of gym classes available and wondering whether it’s for you. You want to know more about it without taking yourself to class. After all, the last thing you want is to feel like you have two left feet and your miles behind the other class members.

Many people want something to ease their way back into fitness but have fun at the same time. Is Jazzercise that fitness class or is it for those who are more experienced?

Here’s a look at this type of exercise and absolutely everything you need to know about it. Not only will you know what to expect when you walk through the door, but you’ll be able to make the most of every second in your class.

Combining Dance and Fitness Together

You’ve likely already done many fitness classes in the past. These may be circuits, HIIT classes, or even step aerobics. They all have one thing in common: to get you, fitter.

Classes are a great way to make new friends and push yourself out of your comfort zone. They give you a variety to your workout. But over time the same classes get old. You find that the routines are always the same and you start to put less effort into them. They’re not as exciting as they once were.

A few years ago, Zumba became a major craze. Sure enough, there was a reason for it. The workouts mixed dance and fitness together. Well, Jazzercise goes that step further into the combination. It is just as it sounds: jazz exercise combined.

You do dance and fitness routines to jazz music. Well, it used to be to jazz music. The workouts have changed now to use current music because that’s what people who are working out would prefer.

There is certainly a dance element to it, but there is also a strength training element. You will spend your time working on your whole body, between press ups, weight lifting, and following dance steps. This is for someone who wants an all-body workout and really wants to improve their overall body and tone.

By the way, Jazzercise isn’t some new phenomenon. This has been around since the 70s and 80s. It’s all thanks to Glee that doesn’t become more widespread. There were many misconceptions that it involved leotards and shiny headbands. Now Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t do much for curbing that misconception, but she did the show to the world just how fun jazzercise could be – and just how good it could be a workout.

The Creation of Jazzercise

Back in the 1960s, many people started quitting their dance classes. The exercise wasn’t what it is today – emphasized to lose weight and live healthily. It wasn’t something fun that people could do together. People danced because they thought they needed a hobby but would move onto something else.

That was until the creation of Jazzercise. Dance teachers need to change the way they taught. Judi Shepherd Missett was one of the first. She realized that she needed to step away from the technical elements and start making her classes fun for all ages and abilities if she wanted to keep her classes going. She was willing to adapt to the times.

So, in the basement of her dance studio, she brought out a new type of exercise program. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Jazzercise movement really kicked off, but she was able to push for that because of her willingness to change and work with her students.

One of the best things about it for the students was the lack of mirrors. It took the feeling of a traditional dance class away, and people got to have fun without really wondering what they look like. They just faced the instructor and worked out.

With mirrors, too many people would compare themselves with each other and their instructor. They’d focus more on their look than on the exercises and just enjoying the workout that they were getting. With Jazzercise, the focus was on the fun that you could have while working out at the same time. Most classes won’t have mirrors unless the location is limited.

There’s No Need to Know How to Dance

People who do the Jazzercise classes don’t always have a background in dance. There’s no requirement for that. Even the instructors may not have a dance background, although some type of rhythm background is a comment.

There will be a learning curve. At first, you’ll find the steps difficult and you may struggle to stay in time with the rest of the class. Everyone has been there, and nobody will judge you. This is really the case with every single fitness class out there. You’ll find yourself watching others for the moves and trying to work out in your brain how to get your body to perform all the moves that everyone else is doing.

It’s the process of learning – but learning by doing is good. You’re getting fit while picking up a new skill.

There are some technical terms to learn, which is where some of the learning curve is involved. After a few classes, you’ll know what all the terms mean and you’ll be able to focus on getting fitter, losing weight, and reaching any of the goals that you have.

A major benefit of the classes is that the movements will work with song structure. You’ll find that the verses have one set of moves that you do and you’ll do the same set of moves for each chorus. This will help you with the learning of the terms and the different dance steps involved.

Doesn’t That Make Things Boring?

Surely doing the same moves repeatedly makes the exercise class boring. The whole reason to try something new is to add variety and find something exciting to do again.

Well, jazzercise doesn’t involve the exact same moves and the exact same songs every single week. You’ll have about 10 weeks of the same songs and the same dance steps to give you time to learn them and get better at them and then you’ll move onto a new set of songs.

Most of the music will be current, so changing the set of songs is important. You and the rest of your Jazzercise friends will get to listen to the most current songs on the radio. Some of them will have a dance beat added to them, but the focus is on variety so that there is always something new and exciting with your classes.

What Exactly Is Involved in a Jazzercise Class?

As I said, this isn’t about wearing those neon headbands and sparkly leotards. Get that thought of dance fitness classes out of your head. Jazzercise has come a long way since these types of fitness classes were first invented. You wear what you feel comfortable in to do the workouts. Many women will opt for leggings, and normal fitness tops that they would for going for a run or any other aerobic workout.

This is just like any other fitness class. It involves a set of moves that will work your whole body.

Many of the moves will be high intensity. You’re encouraged to put your full effort into the dance steps and moves. If you work to your hardest level, you can burn around 600 calories in one hour, which is more than a runner traditionally burns while hitting the gravel!

However, it’s not all about the aerobic fitness. There is some strength training involved. In the past, exercise balls and ropes were used. There may be some classes that still use them, but the classes have moved onto resistance bands, free weights, and bodyweight exercises. You’ll find that you do push ups, crunches, bicep curls, and much more. All your muscles will feel the burn as you work up the sweat.

Isn’t Jazzercise Just Zumba?

I know you’re likely thinking about the Zumba craze a couple of years ago. There are still a few Zumba classes around, but people are moving onto other types of workouts, including bootcamps and HIIT classes. But you likely think that Zumba and Jazzercise are just the same. Do you really need to do one if you’ve done the other?

Well, the two classes are very different. Zumba is more of an aerobic workout. The aim is to get your blood pumping and work on your breathing. There are no weight sessions involved through the classes in most cases.

At the same time, Zumba uses Latin dance moves. Jazzercise doesn’t use the Latin moves as much. The focus is on everyday dance steps, and the instructors will need certified training to be able to perform one of these classes! There is much more to the class than Zumba offers.

That doesn’t mean it’s better. Both of the classes will have their place. You’ll need to decide which class is better for you.

There are also different types of Jazzercise classes, unlike Zumba. With Zumba, you’ll learn a few dance moves, and the instructors will add them together in different ways to the music. There is more of a dance element to them. With Jazzercise, the focus is on what you want to achieve through the class. For some, there is more of a focus on your core strength, while others involve more of an HIIT workout. Some of the classes will last a whole 60 minutes, but others are 30 minutes for those who just want to get some exercise into the day quickly. All the sessions include the warm up and cool down to make sure your body is protected from injury risks.

You’ll Get a Mental Workout at the Same Time

It’s common to focus on the physical benefit of workout classes. I don’t want to take away from the physical benefits of Jazzercise – or any other class out there – but I do want to add in a benefit that Jazzercise brings that many others fail to do.

This is a mental workout. Even months or years into the class, your mind gets a workout, and this is a powerful way to be healthy for the rest of your life. Think about how Jazzercise adapts and changes. It doesn’t remain stagnant with the times and struggle to move forward.

Every 10 weeks or so you get a new set of songs. You’ll have a new set of dance steps and routines to learn, meaning that your mind is constantly on the go. Just as you think you’ve got it, the moves change again, and you’re left developing more skills and boosting your memory and cognitive functions. Not only are you protecting your physical health from disease, but you’re also protecting your mental health from deterioration.

Are You Ready to Step into the World of Jazzercize?

It’s time to get rid of all those misconceptions about Jazzercise. I know you have them because I had them too. You’ve seen the old commercials, and the flashbacks or 1980s set movies and TV shows. You’ve seen the leotards, the headbands, and the neon leg warmers. You think you know Jazzercise, but that’s just the old-school jazzercize.

This is a workout that is willing to adapt and change. There’s a reason that it has been around for so long and there are people queuing outside the door for classes. This is one of those exercises that will get your blood pumping and keep you excited and entertained the whole time.

If one of your friends wants you to join her in Jazzercise, really consider it. What have you got to lose to try it out for 30-60 minutes? It will get you fit, let you try something different, and boost your mental health all at the same time. Are you ready to step into the world of Jazzercise?

Check out more info on what is jazzercise fitness here: 15 Reasons Why You Should Try Spinning Classes

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