Jazzercise classes still exist, offering a high-energy workout.
IF YOU WERE born after 1990, it’s possible you have never heard of Jazzercise. For the rest of us, it evokes images of leg warmers and leotards, enthusiastic step aerobics routines and cheerful instructors.
After a modern-day class at North Bellevue Community Center, I can assure you the instructors remain energetic, though the music has been updated to Calvin Harris, and steppers and poofy hair tamed by sweat bands were gone.
I didn’t know Jazzercise was still around until I saw mention of it by Kris Rooke, a former colleague who is a 25-year veteran Jazzercise teacher. If you are a regular reader, you know I will try almost any fitness option, and I was determined to add Jazzercise to my repertoire.
All About Jazzercise
When I arrived at the class, enthusiastic music was pumping over the speakers. I realized I might have to dance, a lot.
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I was soon stepping side-to-side, trying to match Rooke’s quick steps. We did some warm-ups, extending our legs and stretching our sides while moving our feet briskly.
Soon, the tempo went up. I haven’t done aerobics in years, but luckily, the quick steps forward and back and skips side-to-side returned quickly.
The focus for the day was a lower-body routine, and Rooke mentioned we would be working our big “fat-burning” thigh muscles. I don’t tend to pay attention to fat or calorie burn when working out. What I do want is to feel a physical burn in my legs or core or upper arms.
Once the tempo picked up and we got deeper into leg work, I got my desired leg burn, starting with wide squats. We held the squat with our thighs parallel to the floor, did some punches and then held for two counts coming up before returning to the deeper position. My legs yelped in protest.
Nothing lasts too long in Jazzercise, however. Whenever I found an exercise challenging, the song soon ended, and we were on to the next.
Jazzercise routines range from aerobics to interval training. For this class, Rooke alternated between routines that were heavy on lunges or other leg work and lots of cardio. During Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us,” I felt like I bounced nonstop the entire time. I was sweating and occasionally breathless, and during the most intense parts of the workouts, some of the regulars hooted and cheered.
Rooke always gave us options to take it down a notch, stepping side-to-side rather than hopping up and down. I preferred bouncing.
Aerobics is easier to follow than a dance class, though I occasionally got confused during single-single-double counts; I kept skipping the double and would have to catch up with the rest of the class. We did some shoulder shimmies, a lot of arm rolls to work our shoulders and, of course, more squats and lunges.
For the last section of the class, we added hand weights for our squats and did additional curls. The class closed with core work on a mat.
After an hour, I was bounced out. I was ready to take it easy after all that cardio.
Aerobics classes are not as common as they once were. A couple of songs in, I realized trends might come and go, but moving your body is moving your body. And in Jazzercise, the energy is high, you will sweat, and you might even hoot and holler. It’s the Jazzercise way.