Jazzercise Kicked my Butt in the Best Possible Way

This post is sponsored by Jazzercise. As always, all opinions are my own!

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What comes to mind when you hear the term Jazzercise?

I can almost envision what you’re thinking of: your mom’s workout class. Outdated music blasting from a boombox that has, surprisingly, made it to 2019. Leg-warmers. Neon spandex. Hilarity. Maybe some sequins. Definitely some hairspray. Lots and lots of hairspray.

I am here to inform you, sweet friends on the internet, that that is not the case.

I get pretty intense about my workouts. In fact, I’m going to be super upfront with you and just admit that I’m kind of a snob when it comes to fitness. I hate this aspect of my character, but there is part of me that forever (pathetically) lives in a universe where I’m a college athlete. Mind you, I graduated college in 2012. It’s been a hot minute since I was able to claim the D1 athlete title as my own. The mentality of training like a college athlete, though, just doesn’t go away. There’s this hot urgency with each workout that I might somehow be tested on my endurance. Like I have to be the best, the most intense, the most extreme. It’s ridiculous and I know it, but it’s been an odd journey trying to separate college-rower-Lizzie from normal-human-who-works-out-Lizzie.

When Mercer Island Jazzercise invited me to try out a class, I was honestly skeptical. Jazzercise, quite honestly, wasn’t something that I had ever thought to try. I knew that my MIL liked to do Jazzercise back in the day. I knew (somehow) that it involved a lot of dancing. I pictured step-aerobics and florescent scrunchies. I didn’t picture a workout. I knew that it had a cult following but, really, what did that mean?

Not sure what to expect, last week I walked in.

Mercer Island Jazzercise is housed in a gym at the Mercer Island Community Center. Coincidentally this is the same gym that serves as home-base for the half marathon I run each year, so I felt instantly at home. Despite the familiarity, I couldn’t remember the last time I had worked out in a gym. It had probably been… college? I could vaguely remember sprinting lines one cold morning on a basketball court and throwing up on my shoes, but I tried to block that out. Can you blame me? As much as I tried to feign confidence walking onto the hardwood, I was nervous. What if I was wearing the wrong outfit? What if I slipped in the middle of class and broke my nose? What if everybody laughed at me? What if I was the only one there?

I was so excited for Jazzercise that I got there super early and basically just freaked out in the car the entire time. As you can see, this is my excited face.

I was so excited for Jazzercise that I got there super early and basically just freaked out in the car the entire time. As you can see, this is my excited face.

iMe and my new BFF Lana, the owner of Mercer Island Jazzercise. I’m not entirely convinced that she’s human - she rocked the entire class and didn’t even seem tired? She is a literal dancing queen.

iMe and my new BFF Lana, the owner of Mercer Island Jazzercise. I’m not entirely convinced that she’s human - she rocked the entire class and didn’t even seem tired? She is a literal dancing queen.

When I walked past the gym divider content I realized that my fears were completely ridiculous. The gym was packed with dozens and dozens of women.

I have been in the fitness world for a long time. I’ve been an athlete, a dedicated student, and a teacher for what sometimes feels like an entire lifetime and then some. I am being completely honest and unprompted when I say - I have never encountered a more genuine, heartfelt community than when I went to my Jazzercise class. I had no idea what I was doing when I walked in to that gym and it was abundantly clear. My anxiety was high. Women that I had never met ran up to help me. They helped me figure out where to stand and what equipment I needed to grab. Women I didn’t know eagerly waved me over to a spot in the middle of the gym and complimented my outfit. Even though my job is out on the internet for the whole world to see, I still get incredibly nervous to try new things and to do a good job. Don’t we all? When the music started I was ready. Reluctant, but ready.

The next hour or so can only be described as me, feeling like the most coordinated version of myself, appearing in either a new Rihanna music video or a reenactment of the movie Honey with me as the star. I hopped around awkwardly for a minute or two of the first song but our instructor, Lana, made me laugh so hard with her commentary that my anxiety quickly melted away. I started hopping and shimmying all over the gym floor. The women next to me started whooping and hollering. When I messed up and almost ran into the woman next to me, instead of rolling her eyes she laughed and gave me a giant wink. Everybody was… so nice! There was a woman next to me in her seventies shaking her money maker like she was at a high school dance two shots of Malibu deep. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was having the time of my life. I also was quickly getting very, very, tired. My calves were on the brink of falling off - jumping around for an hour is hard! I could feel my mascara dripping off my face. Why the hell did I wear mascara? Who even am I?

I think that in our social media culture we tend to fixate a lot on what we “should” do. We flock towards the trendy workouts and popular diets without ever really considering what our bodies might be craving. I am the first person to admit that I’ve seen tons of people doing something, like barre or a Pilates class, and immediately felt the pressure to sign up, as if somehow I won’t be fit unless I do the thing that is popular in that moment. There are so many different versions of this. Diets have come and gone. In the last 50 years fitness trends have slowly died out. But somehow… Jazzercise has endured. Among all of the fitness trends that have come and gone (hi, Thigh Master!), Jazzercise is still quite literally kicking. And guys, I HAVE to tell you, it’s doing pretty darn well. 2019 is the 50th annivesary of Jazzercise. Somehow it doesn’t look a day over 16.

You know how I feel about wellness. I think that it should be fun. I hope that you find a way of eating and a way of moving that makes you feel like your most vibrant self. If that means that you do water aerobics, go for it. If it means running 10 miles a day in the pouring rain, you do you. Jazzercise kicked my ass and left me sore for two days. It was fun, refreshing, welcoming, and totally sweaty. It reminded me to let go of my weird self-imposed training plans and to remember to… just move!

And you know what? I would absolutely go back.


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