Does Jazzercise Hold Up as a 2024 Workout? I Tried It to Find Out


THE GOLDBERGS - School-ercise  When Beverly steps in for PE coach at William Penn Academy, Adam reluctantly takes her Jazzercise class. He is surprised to find enjoyment in it, until Beverly suffers an embarrassing incident  causing Adam the ultimate humiliation. Brea steps in to show Adam his mothers good intentions and he ultimately comes to her defense. Meanwhile, Barry and Geoff find themselves both up for the same medical internship  causing conflict in their budding friendship on an all-new episode of The Goldbergs, airing WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13 (8:00-8:30 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (Raymond Liu/ABC via Getty Images)TIM MEADOWS

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“This is gonna keep you smiling and feeling so fine,” Jazzercise founder Judi Sheppard Missett promises in a retro video that’s found its way to YouTube. The idea that working out should be fun was foundational to Jazzercise, a brand that revolutionized how women exercised in the ’70s and ’80s.

The video is endearingly outdated when viewed through a 2024 lens, but Jazzercise is still alive and kicking. In fact, judging from the Jazzercise locations list, it’s more popular than you might think. Today, 444 studios exist in 16 countries, and the brand has an online streaming component. Missett is CEO of the company, and her daughter, Shanna Missett Nelson, is president. Missett, Nelson, and Missett’s granddaughter Skyla Nelson all teach classes.

To find out what Jazzercise looks like today, I took an evening class at the New York City studio. I’ll always commit to the bit, so I showed up in hot-pink liquid leggings, a leotard, and legwarmers — a retro workout costume, but functional. My instructor, Kate Kreiss, a bubbly third-grade teacher whose mom and grandma also became Jazzercise instructors, gave me a warm welcome.

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Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Renee Cherry

What Is Jazzercise Like in 2024?

My class was packed out with newcomers and regulars alike. Kreiss told me that the workouts attract people who were fans of Jazzercise from its early days, though my class appeared to be all children of the ’90s and early ’00s. Along with changes to the programming — most notably, the addition of strength training — Jazzercise has moved away from language that emphasizes fat burning and shrinking down through exercise, Kreiss informed me.

The class was split into cardio dance and full-body weighted portions, set to songs from popsters like Selena Gomez, Reneé Rapp, and Pitbull. Ten times per year, Jazzercise releases new choreography with new music to its studios. The workout reminded me of Zumba; the dance moves are basic and repetitive enough that you can keep up without having a dance background.

Image Source: Jazzercise

Is Jazzercise a Good Workout?

The session lasted an hour, and it was no joke. I was tired by the time we went to grab weights for the second half, more so because my legs were fatigued from bouncing around than because I felt winded. For context, my usual workout routine is about 50/50 weightlifting and hot-girl walks, so I wouldn’t say that my body is used to cardio dance.

After the class, I got to thinking about why dance cardio-heavy workouts are so polarizing, at least among my circle. While some people love them, others have told me that they get in their heads about how they look to other people.

It seems that throughout the years, Jazzercise has attempted to address this hesitation around cardio dance. Early on, Missett reportedly had an “aha” moment when she instructed her students to face away from the mirror during a class, a bid to minimize their self-consciousness and shift their attention to having fun. While there was a mirror in my studio, the instructor clearly wanted to keep us similarly out of our heads. During my class, Kreiss didn’t call out any personalized instruction that could, theoretically, make a dance-cardio-averse person feel like they were being put on blast. Instead, she emphasized how much fun it was to be dancing together and said our dance moves didn’t need to be perfect.

While Kreiss never said outright that her class would “keep us smiling,” she might as well have. I saw some of my fellow class-goers crack smiles throughout, even though we were a) completing a grueling workout and b) in a city with a reputation for aloofness. Jazzercise looks a lot different now, but it’s still focused around sparking joy.

Renee Cherry is a writer and editor who specializes in beauty and wellness. Her writing has appeared in POPSUGAR, Women’s Health, Glamour, mindbodygreen, and Well+Good, among other publications.

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