A new twist on a fitness classic

Jazzercise incorporates cardio, resistance training and yoga

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If you go

Jazzercise is offered several times a week at Lacamas Swim & Sport, 2950 N.W. 38th Ave., Camas. A gym membership is not required.

For more information, visit www.jazzercise.com, search “Camas Washington Jazzercise” on Facebook, email lacamasjazzercise@hotmail.com or call 980-0022.

Jazzercise: It’s no longer leg warmers, sweat bands and leotards.

But when most people hear the word, that’s exactly what they picture.

As someone who has completed eight marathons, two ultra marathons, two half Ironmans, and a host of other shorter triathlons and running events, I am confident in my ability to tackle any fitness class.

So, when asked if I wanted to try a Jazzercise class at Lacamas Swim and Sport for a story I was writing on the topic, I must admit some internal scoffing took place. It didn’t help that my training buddies were ribbing me about doing the workout.

“This probably won’t be too challenging,” I thought. “Better get in a run too.”

Wrong.

Five minutes into class, I was sweating, and huffing and puffing like someone who hadn’t seen the inside of a gym in years. It didn’t help that the woman in front of me was twice my age and appeared to be doing totally fine.

Trying to follow the instructor’s hip swiveling, leg kicking, torso-bending dance moves was also a challenge. However, my biggest fear was in being my klutzy self, tripping and falling smack on my rear end, or slamming into someone next to me.

I was also certain that everyone in the class was secretly laughing at my pathetic attempts to follow the instructor’s cues. Despite my anxiety, I had a good time and got in a solid workout, even thought I took several breaks to shoot photos for this story.

Afterward, some of the participants told me that they felt exactly the same during their first class. After about five visits, it becomes much more natural and routine. The high energy music helped though, and none of it included cheesy tunes. Everyone was really supportive and appeared to be having a great time.

Contrary to what I had assumed, the class included various ages and both genders. In addition to cardio, strength training and core work is included in every workout.

“People think they know what Jazzercise is, but they don’t,” said instructor Lisa Ackerman, who has taught for 20 years. “It is a tough cardio workout that will burn up to 800 calories a class. The strength section of every class covers, core, legs and upper body. Jazzercise has been around for over 45 years but we have definitely evolved with the times playing great music, and incorporating current moves and theories within our classes.”

Ackerman, a Washougal resident, was a ballet dancer when she was younger, and says it was a natural progression to begin teaching.

“I love the customers in class, their journeys, the fact that they meet in my class and make new friends, and do things outside of class together,” she said. “I am also a certified personal trainer so I can and love helping people set goals and help them with their fitness journey. Jazzercise has many benefits, but one great thing about the program is that we cover everything.”

There are several different forms of Jazzercise, including dance mixx, fusion, core, strike, strength, small group and express.

“Once people try a class, most stick with it,” Ackerman said. “It is fun, and the hour goes by quick. You meet people in class, and want to see them the next day. People are always worried about looking funny or say they can’t dance, but really nobody is watching you. It is your own workout, and the music and moves get you going.”

Kelly Cooper Young of Camas began taking Jazzercise classes four years ago.

“My friend asked me to do it for a year before I finally gave in,” she said. “I finally got the nerve to try it and have been coming ever since. I used to have to force myself to go to the gym. It wasn’t fun, enjoyable or comfortable. I look forward to it now because who doesn’t want to get up and dance for an hour?”

The 42-year-old mother of five typically attends class five days a week, and also takes two weight training classes every week.

“I used to be in the gym trying a million different things, and I didn’t like any of them,” she said. “This works for me.”

Hillary Brooks has struggled with losing weight for several years.

The 45-year-old mother of two tried simply dieting, without exercise, and was frustrated by the results.

“But I hated exercise,” she said. “This is something I have failed at for a long time.”

After moving to Camas this summer, she decided to try Jazzercise because her son participates on the gym’s swim team, and she noticed a sign for the class.

“I have now lost 25 pounds in less than two months,” she said. “It has been great for me. I find that I actually like doing this.”

The former gym avoider now attends two classes a day, five days a week.

“These are my friends here and I love the classes,” Brooks said. “I can’t dance at all. I am horrible, but I still come to Jazzercise. People are super supportive and it’s been a great environment.”

Brooks encourages others who struggle with their weight or working out to give Jazzercise a try.

“When you push yourself to do something outside your comfort zone, you can get so focused that you forget to be self-conscious,” she said. “I had never been to a group fitness class before this, but now I have found my calling.”

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