Saturday, June 22, 2013

Jazzercise is the ticket to fitness and fun, wherever you land

Cookie joined thousands of other Jazzercise dancers on the USS Midway in San Diego, to fight breast cancer. 


Here's how Jazzercise helped one woman survive widowhood twice -- and more

International fitness program fosters friendships, is good for what ails you 

(This story first appeared in 2013.  It is having a second life thanks to national interest in a Jazzercise star, 96-year old singer Betty Lowe. Cookie's Jazzercise moves around, like she does. The Moose Lodge venue is no more but Cookie is at Jazzercise Carmel Valley and Morena Blvd.)

Judi Sheppard Missett, founder of Jazzercise, was interviewed by Cookie
many years ago for an airline magazine article on fitness. They reconnected
during a Jazzercise fundraiser on the Midway in San Diego in 2016. 
Jazzercise was born in California. This group works out in San Diego.
That's Debbie Walters in the center, one of Cookie's Jazzercise coaches.

GETTING UP, getting active, getting your fanny to exercise.
That's the challenge for millions of us who embrace daily fitness rituals.
Like most good habits, they become a valued part of our routine because they improve our lives.
No, it's not always easy to arise, get dressed, grab a coffee or banana and get your weary self to exercise. But when we do, we're glad we did.
SO IT IS with my almost daily Jazzercise ritual.
When I'm on the west coast, I rarely miss Jazzercise.  The San Diego area -- just south of the birthplace of Jazzercise in Carlsbad -- has several Jazzercise venues. I currently enjoy weekday Jazzercise in  Carmel Valley with Sharon Anthony-Ticho. Saturdays, I'm at the Musicians Union with Rick Nesbitt's group. I've danced with Jazzercise around the globe.
Jazzercise, along with Nick and Nora and a desert garden helped
Cookie recover from the loss of her second husband in Arizona.
Jazzercise is welcoming, fun, reasonably priced and pleasantly addictive. It's also therapeutic. After the deaths of two husbands, Jazzercise helped me rebound. Travel, gardening, music and my Yorkies helped me regain health in the mountains of Montana and the Arizona desert. I'm especially grateful for Phoenix Jazzercise friends and empathic coaches P.K. Callison and Cindy Schulz who shared their studios and fitness tips to help heal body and soul!
THROUGH JAZZERCISE, I've met fellow teachers, artists, musicians, world travelers and writers, gardeners, gourmet cooks and bird watchers. I've found fellow play-and-opera goers, avid walkers and hikers through Jazzercise.
In San Diego, favorite Jazzercise venues are the Moose Hall on Ruffin Road, and the Musicians Union on Morena, near Mission Bay.  I've been following Sharon Ticho's Jazzercise because I like her style, enthusiasm and roster of teachers -- each unique and spirited. I first met Sharon when she subbed for my friend Debbie Walters at a funky Jazzercise venue with  a giant moose head
San Diego Jazzercise instructor Debbie Walters
was honored after class on her May birthday.
overseeing our moves.  The Musicians Union has a beautiful wood floor and is light, airy and near the ocean. Both are fun with excellent coaches and enthusiastic followings. Some devotees, such as Betty Lowe featured here June 19, have been doing Jazzercise for decades.
Jazzercise with a 90-plus jazz singer
I've "jazzed" in New York state during my post-grad studies at Sarah Lawrence College, in Atlanta when visiting my sister Misha, and at many other cities during work and press trips -- San Francisco, New York, New Orleans, Portland, Philadelphia and Chicago. I worked out to Jazzercise with my late mother, Ellen, a treasured memory, and with sisters Olivia, Misha and Robbie.
When I'm in Montana, I exercise with a group of a half-dozen friends at the local Fire Hall. We use Jazzercise DVDs I've collected through the years -- one concentrates on abdominals, and there's a fun one on street jazz. Others combine jazzy Latin rhythms with weights and aerobics.  Some of the girls bring other DVDs, ranging from yoga to pilates, so we mix it up with our coach Laurie Beers figuring the venue each day to keep everyone happy.
When Cookie's in Montana, she  and Keller hike to the top of the property
on a series of switchbacks. Here friends and the Yorkies join the couple.
When I'm the only one able or interested, I opt instead to walk briskly to "the top of the prop" -- a switchback trail up the mountain behind my country place here in Montana. Sometimes I drag a couple friends along. And the Yorkies, Nick and Nora. Sometimes I play my saxophone up there, listening to it ricochet off the rock.
Since there is no gym here in the rural northern Rockies in the shadow of the Beartooth Mountains, we are on our own to keep fit. (The town of Nye is "blink and you'll miss it" -- in fact a sign near the Post Office says, "entering and leaving Nye".) In place of a formal program, we devise our own, and have been at it for three years.
Billings, the nearest "big city" -- around 100,000 -- offers several venues of Jazzercise, too. Brenda
Jazzercise is followed by jazz.  At the "top of the prop" in Montana, 
jazz comes  from Cookie's saxophone. Friends enjoy a cocktail.
Binstock, who leads us at the Knights of Columbus Hall, has been jazzing nearly as long as my coaches in San Diego.
One of my California instructors, the amiable Rick Nesbitt, tells of meeting the dynamic Jazzercise founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett many years ago in the days of paisley and flower power.
The shapely Missett has turned Jazzercise into a worldwide phenomenon, with catalogues for jazz togs and classes to sample in Europe and even Asia (the Japanese, especially, love Jazzercise.)  One of the San Diego substitutes, introduced to us by Debbie at the Moose Lodge, is named Hiroko and is a native of Japan.
The DVDs we enjoy in Nye feature Missett and her daughter Shanna Missett Nelson, along with Jenet Morrison and others in the fit and jazzy California Jazzercise contingent.  Many have been at Jazzercise for years.
Cookie's California time  encourages fitness, with fine climate, hiking and
outdoor exercise, here near Morrow Bay with Keller, Nick and Nora.
What I like about the program is its combination of lively music, a total body workout and socialization. This lifelong tap dancer loves the dance aspect, and we move to the tunes of time honored crooners such as Tony Bennett as well as newer talents such as Adam Levine.
At fitness centers and gyms, there is seldom much banter or conversation.
Jazzercise provides an opportunity to have fun, chat a bit, and still get the important exercise we all need.
In cross-country driving trips, I've noticed that people are fatter in the Midwest and northern climes.
It's not a mystery.
Keller is coaching Cookie's sailor prowess.
He has been on boats and oceans since
boyhood, growing up in southern California.

One has to work harder to keep fit in places plagued by long winters and harsh cold spells....... that's why in my San Diego time, I notice little obesity. It's a fit, outdoorsy place. I love my time there, which most days includes some ocean and hiking time.  Often, we go sailing.  Wherever Cookie is, I'm doing my best to wage war against the ravages
of gravity and changing metabolism.  It's possible to combine exercise with nature watching.
Thanks to Jazzercise for inspiring me to keep in shape in California and on the road.  My Nye pals enjoy my summertime Jazzercise DVDs.

Call 1 800 FIT-IS-IT or go to and plug in your zip code to find a close-by Jazzercise venue.

 Montana's summers offer welcome chance to explore
Here, Cookie's family hikes up Sioux Charlie trail, river raging. 

COMING UP: It's officially summer in Montana. The birds are back, the hummers are sucking up sugar water, the bears are visiting, the rivers are raging, snows are melting and the green, green grass of home is wet with dew.
We'll take you to the Arizona desert for star and saguaro gazing, to Europe, with tips on how to make the most of treasured time there.
Plus pointers on getting a first-time California driver's license, flying high at the Torrey Pines glider port and more.
Check out our Friday posts at: And remember to explore, learn and live!

1 comment:

  1. Exercise EnergizerMarch 7, 2018 at 7:05 PM

    We walk every day and I see Christene and her Yorkies on the beach. We chat from time to time and she always mentions Jazzercise....maybe I'll give it a try!