The 75-year-old founder of Jazzercise reveals what sparked the idea for the dance program in 1969 – and her top diet tricks after teaching fitness for 50 YEARS
- Judi Sheppard Missett, founder of Jazzercise, is celebrating 50 years of teaching
- She started out teaching jazz dance but students found classes were too hard
- When she modified it and made it simpler and more positive, people loved it
- 2,000 international classes still taught around the world including in Australia
- Judi also shares her top diet tips and her best strategies for slimming the belly
The founder of iconic global workout Jazzercise has revealed what gave her the idea for the franchise 50 years ago – and some of the top health and fitness tips she swears by.
Former dance teacher Judi Sheppard Missett, 75, from California, said she never intended set out to teach fitness but noticed women were struggling with her dance classes and weren’t coming back.
‘When I asked them what the problem was they said they didn’t want to become professional dancers they just wanted to look like one,’ she told The Morning Show.
This she said, is what sparked the idea of Jazzercise.
Judi Sheppard Missett (pictured centre) is celebrating 50 years of teaching the fun fitness workout known as Jazzercise
Jazzercise was all the rage in the 70s and 80s with women everywhere quick to don lycra and leotards in order to get fit (left, instructor Anne Grossman and right, instructor Karen Shaffer in 1989)
What is Jazzercise?
Jazzercise is a ‘dance party workout’ blending dance with Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and strength training.
Jazzercise is now in its fifth decade and helped give rise to the boutique fitness revolution, one of the fastest-growing segments of the exercise industry today.
There are 8,500 Jazzercise franchises, across 25 countries. Together they hold approximately 32,000 classes per week, worldwide.
Their global cumulative sales top $2 billion, according to the company. And their C-suite is made up of all women
Missett’s daughter, Shanna – who grew up in the studio with her mother – is its president. Yet Missett is as involved as ever. She still teaches three classes a week, and still shapes the moves.
She said this prompted her to make some changes like turning students away from the mirror and building less complicated routines.
Within weeks of offering her newer style classes, she knew she was onto something great as within weeks she was teaching up 60 people.
Stumbling on the name, something that’s now as well-known as the routines, was also something of a happy accident, she recalled.
Judi revolutionised the way people worked out by combining elements of jazz dance with exercise and injecting a healthy dose of positivity
Initially, Judi called her classes ‘Dance for fun and fitness’ until a student suggested ‘jazzercise’ – a name that captured the jazz dance aspect of the workout and exercise elements.
‘I thought “wow, great idea” and immediately I registered and copyrighted that name, and thank goodness I did,’ she said.
Five decades on Jazzercise is as popular as ever with more than 2,000 classes still taught internationally including 220 a week in Australia.
Five decades on and Judi is still active teaching classes to loyal fans and continually choreographing new routines
What are Judi’s top tips for reducing belly fat through diet?
As well as being known for her revolutionary exercise routines, Judi is also a diet and health expert. Here, she reveals her top tips for reducing belly fat:
Eat a protein snack between 3 and 4pm: This boosts metabolism and balances blood sugar. The lower your blood sugar, the less fat you store around your middle.
Normal-weight women are more likely to mirror a thin woman’s eating habits: When you’re at a restaurant, order first and select a healthy option. You’ll stay on track and may inspire your companions.
Stress produces extra cortisol: This hormone encourages the body to store fat – particularly in the abdominal region. Reduce stress in your life by taking a yoga or fitness class.
Slow down and enjoy food: Meals that last at least 30 minutes are more satisfying and you are likely to end up eating less.
Digestion begins in the mouth: Adequate chewing means food is digested better leading to less gas and bloating.
Notice how you feel as you eat: Ask yourself: Do I feel gassy? Am I overfull after just a few bites of certain foods? Does my stomach make sounds or feel swollen following specific meals?
And while Judi might be CEO of the business, she is still as active as ever, teaching classes and continually choreographing new routines.
Judi’s business advice is to let yourself be driven by your passion
She said part of her secret to success is having discovered it was possible to build a business based on doing something she loved.
‘I think one of the keys to that is always focusing on excellence and the integrity of what you’re doing and having good people do it with you,’ she said.
She added it also helped to surround yourself with others who will ‘lift you up’ and a positive influence.
Her business advice to others is simple: Find what you love and follow your passion – a belief she said ‘makes it easy to work hard and accomplish things’.
‘When you’re passionate about what you do, you love what you do and then every day you get to do what you love.