Friday, October 19, 2018

Jazzing it up on the Midway, celebrating near half-century of Jazzercise

Saturday's USS Midway aircraft carrier will host one of the state's largest Jazzercise gatherings, benefiting cancer research.


Jazzercise founder Judi Sheppard Missett and the writer,
Christene "Cookie" Meyers, at an earlier Midway fundraiser.

Jazzercise teachers and students will
 put their hearts and money into an 
  energetic fundraiser Saturday on Midway. 
Thousands gather each year on the Midway deck to transform the aircraft
carrier into a dance stage.  Here, dancers jazz to rhythmic pop tunes. 

EVEN FOR veteran Jazzercise dancers like myself, dancing with a cast of thousands is a thrill.
This Saturday, Oct. 20, thousands will convene to dance their hearts and feet off to benefit cancer research. The venue is the vast deck of the USS Midway in downtown San Diego, Calif.
To know that this fun fitness morning is also a benefit for breast cancer research makes the dancing all the more pleasurable.
  Jazzercise instructors will gather from Southern California and across the U.S., to "Dance for Life," fighting breast cancer and seeking a cure aboard the venerable Midway. The time Saturday is 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Cost is $45 and includes a collector's item Jazzercise t-shirt.
MORE THAN 1,000 Jazzercise instructors, dancers, family and friends have already booked it, including cancer survivors and others whose lives have been affected by breast cancer.  The benefit will top a half-million dollars given to the Susan G. Komen research since the project's beginnings.
The writer, Christene "Cookie" Meyers, right,
and Sharon Ticho of  Jazzercise Carmel Valley.
    In the last five years, co-chairs Pacific Beach/La Jolla
Jazzercise owner Andrea Singer and El Cajon Jazzercise owner Susan Shofner with support from many southern California Jazzercise locations have raised more than $495,000 with the Dance for Life event, part of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, 60 mile walk for breast cancer research.
Besides the epic group workout led by Jazzercise instructors, breast cancer survivors will be honored as they dance together during the “Survivor Song.”
Founder Judi Sheppard Missett created Jazzercise in Chicago nearly a half-century ago, in 1969 as a student at Northwestern University. She was teaching at a dance studio and noticed her classes had high dropout rates. Her "Jazzercise" concept arose, as a way to make dance more fun while enhancing the dancers' strength and fitness.
I  BECAME a Jazzercise devotee 10 years later, when I interviewed Missett for an airline magazine article.
Judi S. Missett, right, and her daughter,
Jazzercise CEO, Shanna Missett Nelson.
To my delight, Judi remembered that long-ago story when we met at the Midway two years ago. I told her how much Jazzercise means to me, how I find it wherever I go.  "That makes my day. Good for you," said Judi.
The three-day Komen walk for the cure includes Saturday's Midway dance.
As a travel writer, I venture out in the world for more than four months a year.  Jazzercise membership allows dancers to show their  EFT (auto-pay) cards and dance anywhere in the world where Jazzercise exists.  I've danced in a dozen U.S. states, and in several foreign countries, including Japan, where there are thousands of enthusiastic devotees.  Jazzercise has 8,300 franchises globally. I go on line to connect and participate regularly in San Diego, and often in Montana, Oregon, New York and Georgia, where I spend time each year. I've made many friends, including a sprightly 95-year old Jazzerciser, Betty Lowe (click the link below.)
Betty Lowe is well past 95 years old, and attributes her
fitness in part to her years with Jazzercise.
Dancing into her 90s!
Each dance-based group fitness session is 60 minutes featuring a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, pilates, yoga, kickboxing and latin-style movements set to popular music. I frequent two venues in San Diego, and when I can, venues in Billings, Montana, Atlanta, Bronxville, N.Y., Portland and Medford, Oregon, and San Francisco, all regular haunts. My weekdays Carmel Valley Jazzercise venue is with franchise owner Sharon Ticho, one of a half-dozen varied and energetic coaches, all of whom enrich my life. We dance with lively women of all ages and many backgrounds.  My lively Saturday Jazzercise is with Rick Nesbitt at the American Federation of Musicians Union on Morena Avenue. Both of my fine coaches will lead dancers on the Midway stage.
DESCRIBED as "a huge group dance party,'' Saturday's event receives national coverage as the deck of the aircraft carrier is transformed to a gigantic stage. To get in on the fun and contribute to the cause, come to 910 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego. And consider Jazzercise to keep mentally and physically fit. It makes a beautiful day even better!  

Dining abroad can be a special pleasure, if you're daring and eat
what and where the locals do.  Here, a shrimp-sausage dish.
UP NEXT:  Feasting in Europe. Let's go!  No one dines better than when on vacation, and our many holidays in southern Europe have given us insight into great food, fine restaurants and best bets to order when in particular countries.  Join us on the trail to tasty dining far away from home. Our best advice is to find out where the locals eat and avoid the highest-priced eateries, which often disappoint.  We also look for venues with live local music.  Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a refreshing look at travel, the arts, food, family and nature.


  1. Santa Monica ExerciserOctober 21, 2018 at 11:58 AM

    Exciting to be part of this again. Thanks for sharing your personal slant. Fun read.

  2. Mendocino MeanderersOctober 21, 2018 at 10:07 PM

    Wonderful cause, tremendous outpouring of good energy. Thanks for this fun story and terrific photos. Love the aging Jazzercise friend, too.

  3. Great story about a worthwhile and fun event. Go girls-- and guys! Wonderful aerial photo BTW

  4. I have heard the late great Mundell Lowe many times...wish Betty still sang. All best to you dear Betty.

  5. Wonderful story for a wonderful cause.

  6. Carlsbad JazzrrercisersApril 17, 2022 at 9:10 AM

    Just found this piece and what a lovely tribute to Jazzercise, the fight to cure cancer and this marvelous ship. Ship shape job.