Learn all about the ultimate quarantine workout from Allison Grant, owner of the Lynnhaven Jazzercise Center in Virginia Beach.
Pretty much all you need to know about me is that I love Jazzercise. Yes, Jazzercise. No, we don’t still wear legwarmers and dance to '80s music (but honestly who doesn’t have fun doing that?) And no we don’t wear leotards and sweatbands (unless it’s a costume party, and then we absolutely wear those.)
Jazzercise has been around for over 50 years, and I’m sure everyone knows someone who did it in the '80s or '90s. I started taking Jazzercise classes about 11 years ago, right after I had my first child. I took a class on a whim because the Navy moved us to a brand new state and I knew absolutely no one, plus I wanted to lose some extra baby weight. It was definitely love-at-first-routine.
I not only lost the extra weight in just a few weeks, but I also made some friends. I became so addicted that I ended up becoming a certified Jazzercise instructor a few months after joining. Several years later I took an even bigger step into the Jazzercise-universe and became the owner of Lynnhaven Jazzercise Center in Virginia Beach. The past decade has been a wild mix of racing from teaching group fitness classes in the mornings, to trying to be everywhere my kids need me to be in the afternoons.
I’m a solid believer in the health benefits of group fitness, and Jazzercise pretty much pioneered the modern group fitness model. There are a ton of reasons why Jazzercise has been the world’s leading dance fitness program for over 50 years: it’s fun, it’s fresh, it provides a phenomenal workout, and there’s a fabulous sense of community.
When COVID-19 put a screeching halt to everyone’s lives, I was suddenly thrust into a frightening world devoid of Jazzercise. No daily dance parties, no endorphin-producing sweaty workouts, no joking around with all my buddies…just me, myself, and I, left to my own devices to figure out how to manage my life. Seems I had been using my group fitness program as a means of managing (or maybe escaping?) the stresses of my daily life. My family has jokingly called my Jazzercise habit an addiction, and now I was cut off cold turkey. With Jazzercise on hold, I was totally and hopelessly lost.
The first few weeks of quarantine were a blur, as I’m sure they were for most people. The days dragged on and I was glued to the news. I was working my booty off trying to figure out ways to keep my customers engaged in my group fitness business but without the group setting. I transitioned my customers to Jazzercise On Demand, which has an extensive online library of cardio, strength, and stretching Jazzercise workouts.
My customers were grateful to be able to do some sort of Jazzercise at home, but the missing piece was the familiar connection: The On-Demand workouts are taught by training and development specialists in California, not by our local instructors who our customers know and love. Additionally, Jazzercise pre-records its On-Demand workouts. While the convenience of accessing the workouts at any time was nice, all of my customers were missing the familiar routine of showing up for a class at the same time, seeing the same people, and dancing with the same instructors.
A few weeks into quarantine we gained the ability to begin live-streaming our Jazzercise classes via Facebook Live. This seems like a small step for many, but it truly was a gigantic leap for the Jazzercise world. Not only do we guard our choreography, but we also use current, hit music. The various music royalty companies had to agree to allow all franchisees to stream the music without legal issues. I created a private Facebook group for my customers. We set up a tripod at our center, and we began streaming our classes. Even though we were still physically separated, we were socially connected, doing exactly what we love.
Here’s one customer’s review of the live-stream classes:
“The first Saturday we were able to see (my instructor) Aimee on stage at our studio I cried. I didn't realize until then how down I had been. Don't get me wrong - I'm so thankful that I'm able to work, still pull a paycheck, and have found toilet paper! But I've never been depressed and found myself fighting it. What a difference it's made to be able to see MY instructors in MY studio and Jazzercise along with them. It's made the day to day so much easier. I can't thank you enough!” -Sheila C.
Another benefit of live streaming classes via Facebook is that you can comment in real-time during the class. The friendly banter that we enjoyed at our center still occurs while working out from home, from admiring an instructor’s activewear (“Where did you get those cute leggings?”) to making song requests (“I love that new Justin Bieber song!”). Even more importantly, customers get to hear their favorite instructor’s pep talks and motivating coaching (“Yes we CAN do this!”, “Keep squeezing those quads, friends!” “Woohoo! Only 16 more knee lifts!”)
Jazzercise has offered so many of us comfort, connection, and much-needed structure, especially right now. "I absolutely need structure and routine," says Lizzie B. "During this time, all of that has gone out the window, and I’ve had to embrace a new normal. One of the main things that keeps me grounded during my days at home and helps me remember what time of day it is is Jazzercise. Jazzercise helps me feel like I still have control of my days, clears my mind, and gets me moving. Plain and simple, it’s just so important in my life, especially now."
While it may seem counter-intuitive to tout the benefits of group fitness during quarantine, I’ve found that it’s even more important now. We can’t physically be together in groups, but we still need the dynamics that working out together provides; accountability, social connection, physical activity, and emotional motivation. Yes, thriving in your fitness routine during this time is undoubtedly challenging, but it’s definitely possible. Jazzercise is still going strong in customers’ living rooms, and all of us Jazzercisers are still dancing, never missing a beat.
Be sure to check out Allison's Jazzercise live streams on her Facebook page and message them for more info on how you can take part in this great workout!