On January 1, I joined some of my Jazzercise friends for a free 9:00 a.m. class. What better way to start the new year than dancing to great music with like-minded women (and a few brave men)? Generally I’m more of a gym rat, but every now and then I like to change it up and Jazzercise is often my go-to option. While I love the choreography and the overall enthusiasm of the teachers and the participants, what I like most is the camaraderie and the light-hearted spirit that prevails.
Whether I show up once a month or once a year, I’m always greeted with open arms by old friends and new acquaintances who are genuinely happy to see me. Really, there are no strangers at Jazzercise, and even people who have been going for years are open and welcoming to newcomers. Most classes consist of women in their fifties and sixties who seem determined to keep moving and having fun.
Jazzercise – The National Organizaion
In case you’re not familiar with Jazzercise, the national website describes it as a “pulse-pounding, beat-pumping fitness program that gets you results…fast. It’s a calorie-torching, hip-swiveling dance party with a hot playlist to distract you from the burn.” It was founded in 1969 by Judi Sheppard Missett, and today there are thousands of instructors in hundreds of franchise locations throughout the US and abroad.
After class, the Jazzercise staff offered snacks and we had a chance to catch up. That’s when I found out about the philanthropic side to the local group in my town. Most recently, this group has been providing one meal a month for guests of Hospitality House, the local homeless shelter. This labor of love began in December 2016 when Jazzercise chose Hospitality House as their annual charity. The goal at that time was to raise $395 needed to keep the shelter open for one night. In true Jazzercise fashion, the group raised enough money to support four nights.
Jazzercise Grass Valley is Giving Back
This past year, a group of nine Jazzercise women took on the challenge of cooking one meal a month and serving between 65 and 75 Hospitality House guests. My good friend Tommie Conlen (center), who has been a Hospitality House volunteer and sustaining donor since the nonprofit’s inception, completed the training to be a certified food service server. She also heads up the cooking team.
Pictured are January’s cooks: Stacey Nicolai, Michelle Carroll, Tommie Conlen, Sandy Neel, and Lynn Maas. Other teammates are Abby Bentley, Margie Stevens, Mercedes Cabral, and Mary Dowling.
Preparing the monthly meal of baked chicken, vegetarian chili beans with cheese and sour cream, salad, bread and butter, and dessert costs about $200. To keep costs down, the team takes advantage of donations provided by the Food Bank, local grocery stores and Jazzercise members. There’s a donation jar at the Jazzercise desk, and according to Tommie, support has been fantastic. People who attend classes give generously.
So if you’re looking for a way to stay fit, make friends, and possibly garner support for a good cause, check out your local Jazzercise.
Jan Fishler, MA, is currently co-authoring a new book, Don’t Stop Now, Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life (DontStopNow.us). She is also the author of Searching for Jane, Finding Myself (An Adoption Memoir), and has written several articles about alternative health and PTSD. You can learn more about Jan at www.JanFishler.net.