In the 1980s Jazzercise was everywhere. Housewives were doing it to keep fit, as were their children in gym class. The enthusiastic nature of the program meant that it was easy to get swept up in the moment. But, is that the only reason Jazzercise was so popular? Not exactly.
The movement was started by Judi Sheppard Missett in 1969. At the time fitness and health foods were burgeoning industry with a growing following in California. Many people even called healthful living “the California lifestyle” since it was one of the few places where an economy of health existed in the U.S. at the time. Missett had been dancing since she was 3-years-old and so was the perfect fit to joyfully train women how to dance off their extra weight.
In the 1960s and 1970s very few fun and easy-to-do exercise programs for women existed. Instead, fitness programs were often marketed to men and boys- like Charles Atlas and his bodybuilding exercises offered by mail order (above). Health clubs, Spin class, and Zumba were years away and all of them owe something to Missett who pioneered the idea of making an exercise class fun.
Today the Jazzercise operation has over 8,500 franchisees and a huge global following. Find out more from the woman who created the whole program in the video below.