Saturday, October 1, 2016

Jazzercise jam on San Diego's Midway, raises thousands to fight cancer

Jazzercisers hit the Midway stage in San Diego Saturday, raising voices and big bucks in the fight against breast cancer.


Above, writer Christene "Cookie" Meyers ( and Jazzercise
 founder Judi Missett, chat Saturday after Missett presented a check for $91,000.
"Girl, look at that body --
I work out!"
 -- from "Sexy and I Know It" by the American duo LMFAO


JAZZERCISE BUFFS from southern California and many other states gathered Saturday to jazz it up in the fight to defeat breast cancer.
More than 1,500 enthusiastic women "Jazzercisers" -- and 100 or so stalwart men -- came aboard San Diego's massive aircraft carrier Midway to jump, jive, dance and raise $91,000 for the cause.
Jazzercise has a constantly updated and changing range of tunes,
featuring popular artists.  Saturday's dancers were in the groove.
Enthusiasm was the code of the morning, as dancers and fitness fans gathered as early at 7 a.m. for the 8 to 10 a.m. event, officially "Jazzercise Dance for Life - Rockin' The Midway."
VOLUNTEERS worked efficiently to register hundreds who paid $35 each through their Jazzercise groups to join the fun, help a cause, work out with friends and get a snazzy pink t-shirt. Sponsors donated thousands to make the event work, and $5 raffle tickets (I actually won a lovely quilt!) pumped up the cancer research ante.
It was a perfect event, on a perfect southern California day.  A paramedic rested in the cargo bay of a troop transport helicopter -- playing with his Smart phone instead of tending to the injured. Fortunately, there were no casualties.
A Jazzercise welcome from the stage set the tone for a spirited morning.
Dancers at the California event ranged in age from junior high into their 80s, united by the belief that fitness can be fun -- and for a cause.
 More about Jazzercise and its fans in San Diego, Arizona and Montana
I'VE DANCED and worked out with this remarkable program since its first decade.  Founded in 1969, it's the brainchild of Judi Sheppard Missett, who started the revolution as a student at Northwestern University in Chicago.  The forward thinking dancer devised the idea to attract students when she saw class ranks dwindling.  It took off --  and today Missett heads the worldwide company as CEO.
Jazzercise wants you! So go get 'em.
Saturday's stage was Jazzercise heaven.

As a travel writer with a global range, I've "Jazzed" all over the world -- including Japan.  Lucky for me, Jazzercise is thriving in 32 countries and every U.S. state. I've danced in 15 or 20. Saturday, I bumped into (not literally) Jazzercise friends from Arizona, Colorado and all over California. I've also danced in New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and my native Montana. Go to the website and find a class near you. Easy as shake, rattle and roll.

Jazzercisers from southern California and beyond had a fun, fit morning
raising money for the Susan G. Komen fund to cure breast cancer.
(Here Judi Missett, right in black, is interviewed Dave Scott, KUSI TV.)
Saturday's Jazzercise benefit on the USS Midway was a huge success. 

JAZZERCISE BOASTS over a million participants a year, with 8,300-plus franchisees teaching more than 35,000 classes a week. I've written about Jazzercise for airline magazines, travel publications and my own blog, (which you are reading now!) I was delighted to connect with Judi Saturday -- it had been decades since I interviewed her via phone in 1979 -- to tell her how much the program means to me.  I've worn out  DVDs and even vintage 8-track tapes, featuring Judi and her daughter, Shanna Missett Nelson, now Jazzercise president.  Both mother and daughter continue to teach -- in the Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters, and at my Montana ranch, their well loved tapes and DVDs engage a coterie of summer people on the West Fork of the Stillwater River.  We meet
Jazzercise is way of life for nearly 95-year-old dancer 
in the fire hall to catch up and shape up with Jazzercise and a mix of other workout programs, counteracting an excess of summer wine, cheese and dessert and enjoying one another's company. As I told Judi, Jazzercise enhances my entire being on mental, physical and emotional levels. It's helped me survive huge losses. Its spirited choreography has kept me laughing, socializing, arising each morning, torching calories.
 SATURDAY'S GATHERING was, for me, further proof that I choose the right program -- and I'm sticking with it. Jazzercise is as important to me as my beloved theater, as critical as eating well and indulging moderately in life's other pleasures. As essential as family and love.
Pretty in pink: Cookie caps a fabulous morning with her raffle prize
-- an artful handmade quilt -- and one of her many beloved Jazzercise coaches,
 Sharon Ticho, of Sorrento Valley Jazzercise: Del Mar Ballet.
 AS MISSETT stepped gracefully on the stage, to huge applause, the coastal fog dissipated and the sun was shining. Everyone was smiling, for Jazzercise engenders happiness and keeps us current -- I amused my 20-and 30-something nieces and nephews a few years ago when I performed a Jazzercise workout to "Sexy and I Know It." They were impressed that Jazzercise employs fusion, core, strength and dance -- with singers as diverse as Madonna and Blake Shelton.
Mesmerizing glasswork awaits at Dale Chihuly's Seattle museum.
SATURDAY'S WORKOUT featured groups of Jazzerciser coaches taking the stage Saturday to lead the ranks to that upbeat mix of tunes. To keep fresh and varied, Jazzercise uses music by Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Paul McCartney and my favorite Tony Bennett. We tango, cha-cha and shake it off, baby!
This "Jazzercise gypsy" loves it!
To paraphrase a Jazzercise lyric, We have "passion in our pants" -- and we aren't afraid to show it! 

UP NEXT: Enchanting Chihuly -- We visit the master glassblower's museum in Seattle where Dale Chihuly's visionary and seductive "Garden and Glass" artwork is displayed. The famed Northwesterner's creativity shines through in gorgeous glass exhibits both indoor and outdoors -- in the shadow of Seattle's landmark Space Needle. Remember to explore, learn and live and visit us weekends for more artful, nature-driven travel adventures. Tell other smart people about


  1. What a thrilling event to be part of. Love the energy, and fun to see Midway host such a worthy event. Great photos, too.

  2. Too much fun, Cookie and Keller. You are the envy of so many less ambitious or driven.
    ..go go go

  3. Delightful. We have visited Midway, and are avid Jazzercizers, too. Great story and dun photos.

  4. Just caught up to this.....somehow missed nice to see this wonderful piece and today's post....I, too, love the Jazzercise program!