Nearly 4 years ago I made the decision to become a Jazzercise instructor. Unlike some other programs, this involves more than just $200 and an afternoon of training. To do this you have to be a special kind of crazy. Not only do you have to be exceptionally fit and love dancing, you have to audition and pass a written test before you are allowed to BUY a franchise. Then you spend every spare moment you have and the ones you don’t learning routines and putting sets together. (Husbands LOVE this) You find yourself in workout clothes so often it seems normal. Going to Target in full-on workout gear is standard. Some years ago, I would walk to Target on shards of glass before I’d go in spandex.
Sometimes instructors like to compare it to a cult. We make a recruit drink some tainted kool-aid and then your rendered powerless to exercise your own free will. Much like “The Borg” from Star Trek, with Jazzercise, “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”
Further to be a successful instructor you have to have a healthy infatuation or maybe obsession with this woman. This is Judy Sheppard Missett who founded Jazzercise 40 years ago in Chicago. I have to admit, I do. I realize she’s been to see Dr. 90210 more than once, but I think she’s fabulous and inspiring. There I said it.
I got something unexpected when I began instructing – a sisterhood of sorts in other instructors. Before moving to the Greater Tri-State area, I spent hours a day with these ladies. Seeing each other at our sweaty worst is the norm. For my son the Jazzercise center was like a second home. We were all immediately bound together by a love of fitness program the mainstream does comprehend.
Then I moved.
Last weekend I was able to meet up with my Texas instructors at an instructor convention in New Orleans. I felt like I never left. I hope they did too.
It’s only been a year since I’ve been with them, so I shouldn’t be surprised but everyone is exactly the same. There are those who love to cut loose and party. Then there are those who’d rather go in early. There’s the one who always needs 10 more minutes to get ready and those who would leave with wet hair than have the group wait. There are the thrifty ones, the easy going, the up-tight and the naughty. Everyone played her role perfectly – just as I hoped she would. Ladies, you’ll agree, I know. One could achieve Middle East peace before 12 women can make a decision a restaurant or a matching shirt to buy.
As women, especially married women, we dress for each other, not for men or anyone else. This is even truer for Jazzercise instructors. We’ll go for weeks – perhaps months, without seeing each other in “regular clothes.” Needless to say, the rendezvous in New Orleans warranted all the best “regular” clothes to be packed. Personally I walked through 3 airports in tall wedges because there was no room in my suitcase and I HAD to have them.
If you haven’t been, New Orleans is a largely pedestrian city. Sure they have every manner of street car, taxi cab, shuttle bus, or even horse drawn a carriage to transport people. Mostly, however, you walk. For a day and a half I tottered along the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter wearing my Kenneth Cole heels. Most of my companions also neglected to bring shoes for walking all about a city. Personally, I was hobbled by blisters. Several others were too. As I neglected to bring appropriate footwear, I had to continue to wear the fabulous shoes to walk miles around New Orleans. If' we'd all come with sensible shoes, I wonder if we would have worn them?
The weekend came to a close and I returned to my town and they to theirs – feeling like I would see them on Monday at class. That feeling made me sad when I got home. I’ll continue to miss my first set of Jazzercise sisters.
There are Jazzercise Instructors here, but far fewer. It is still a sisterhood, though. We’re all united in dancing, spandex and sweat.