When it comes to fitness programs, there seems to be a new kid on the block about once a month. And then there’s Jazzercise, the dance-based exercise stalwart that’s been around for more than four decades.

It started when Judi Sheppard Missett turned her love of jazz dance into an exercise routine way back in 1969. It’s expanded into a franchise that includes some 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly.

The continued popularity can be explained in two simple ways: It’s fun and it works. If you like to move to music, you’ll absolutely love Jazzercise.

Jazzercise remains prominent because it continues to evolve, say enthusiasts. Instructors must become certified to teach the program. Unlike other dance classes, there are no mirrors in any of the Jazzercise studios. No mirrors means no self judgment and no need for self consciousness. Instructors are trained to give easy-to-follow verbal cues and encourage their students to let go and have fun.

Every 10 weeks, instructors receive new DVDs with various choreography segments. They download the music that goes with the routines and they design their own playlists for the classes. No matter what kind of music you like: top 40, country, funk, rock, blues and hip hop, you’ll find it all in a Jazzercise class. Class sets may vary, but instructors must only teach the company-generated choreography. This requirement, combined with annual quality control reviews, helps maintain program excellence and insure brand consistency.

Jazzercise combines elements of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, and other disciplines to form a total body workout. That’s what makes it different and special. You feel like you’re at a dance party and exercise is a benefit to the fun you’re having. The moves are fresh all the time.

Jazzercise participants come in all ages, shapes, and sizes. A single class might include people ages 20 to 70, and instructors reflect that same diversity, ranging from their 20s to 60s. Several local veteran instructors are members of the Jazzercise President’s Club and bring more than 30 years of Jazzercise teaching experience to the dance floor. They share their expertise mentoring the new, younger instructors coming on board.

It’s such a fun way to workout, it becomes an addiction. Participants are encouraged to exercise at their own pace through a routine that starts with a warm up, aerobic period, aerobic cool-down, and muscle toning and flexibility segment. Instructors wear a microphone and lead from a stage where everyone can see them. Participants can burn more than 600 calories in an hour-long session. There are many convenient Jazzercise locations throughout central New Jersey including East Windsor, Hamilton, Pennington, and South Brunswick.

Ready to join? Jazzercise’s Best Deal of the year, their “Dancing Days Sale” runs from August 29 to September 3. Start for $0 plus September is free.

To register online or for more information go to www.jazzercise.com.

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