Jazzercise challenges the notion that exercise can’t be enjoyable by helping members dance their way toward a healthier life and smaller waistline.
A typical one-hour class combines dance and strength training for a total body workout that can burn up to 600 calories a session, according to Jazzercise, Inc.
This exercise form uses popular music from various genres and has choreographed routines that are used worldwide and updated frequently.
Although Jazzercise was established in 1969 and is now practiced in 32 countries, it wasn’t until recently that this alternative form of exercise found a home in the New River Valley.
On June 24, 2013, the Jazzercise NRV center, located at 2725 Market St. in Christiansburg, opened its doors to a community ready for their own Jazzercise experience.
Alisa Hewitt, the center’s owner, said Jazzercise has been in the area since 2001 with classes held at the Christiansburg recreation center and Blacksburg YMCA. As the local Jazzercise community grew, though, Hewitt realized the need for their own space.
“(The idea) came to us and we were like hey, we can open a center, make it our home and really grow it,” Hewitt said. “It was an awesome opportunity to expand the brand and expand the message (of Jazzercise).”
Finding the right location was a difficult task because Hewitt was aiming to find a place that could maintain both Christiansburg and Blacksburg members.
After a lot of deliberation and research, Hewitt said they finally found the perfect space in its Market Street location.
The space was then transformed into a full-fledged Jazzercise studio, equipped with a stage for the instructors, a sound system and specially engineered sports flooring.
Whereas the other local fitness places typically schedule around nine or fewer classes a week, Jazzercise NRV offers 28 class times.
With the center’s seven instructors and around 100 members of all ages, Hewitt and Long agree that Jazzercise has become more unified now that it has a home base.
“It made so much sense to bring everyone together and feel like a team,” Hewitt said. “Before, the instructors and classes were doing their own thing, and now we’re like one big Jazzercise family.”
At the heart of it, Jazzercise is just a fun way to exercise Alexa Gardner, a certified instructor at the center, said.
“Anytime I’ve had a hard day, by the time I leave (the studio), I feel a million times better,” Gardner said. “I think it’s the combination of the music and the endorphins from working out.”
Not only do the instructors have a blast at every class, they are also proof of the program’s effectiveness. Long and Gardner have each lost around 30 pounds since they started as students.
At the end of the day, Gardner said, it isn’t just the music and the exercise that keeps her passionate about Jazzercise; it’s the members.
“They are out there smiling at us, giving us feedback and laughing at our jokes when we’re up (on stage),” Gardner said. “They are really supportive.”
In fact, a real sense of camaraderie has grown among the instructors and the members, Hewitt said.
“It’s such an awesome community,” she said. “You know that someone is going to miss you when you’re not (in class), and that helps keep you motivated to come to class.”
With the hard work of opening their own studio and uniting the NRV Jazzercise community, Hewitt said she and her team are looking forward to introducing this welcoming form of exercise to others in the area.