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Get heart healthy with a great cardio workout

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 11:40 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:43 a.m. CST

February is Heart Healthy Month, and Suburban Life Magazine took some time to chat with Anne Graham of Jazzercise Glen Ellyn, about the importance of cardiovascular exercise and why Jazzercise, some 45 years in business, has stayed so successful while other fitness trends have come and gone.
Q: What can you tell me about women’s cardio health, as related to regular exercise, like that at Jazzercise?

A: We hear so much about cancer impacting the lives of women, but in reality heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States.  Making exercise a regular part of our life is a great step in preventing the risk of heart disease, and goredforwomen.org is a great resource for a comprehensive review of women’s heart health. It is so easy to get caught in the vortex of a busy lifestyle that we forget to take time for exercise and our health which can result in a very unbalanced life.  Making an “appointment with exercise” is perhaps one of the most important dates we can put in our calendar.  Through exercise we can achieve balance both physically and emotionally, which equates to less stress, and stress is a contributing factor to many health issues.

Q: We hear a lot about core strength, is that more important that aerobic exercise?

A: Core strength moved to the forefront buzz in the fitness industry a few years ago, and it is definitely an important part of a well-rounded fitness program.  Often we think of just our abdominal muscles when we think of our core, but our core incorporates the muscles in our pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen.  Exercises that focus on the core not only help us in looking thinner, but I think more importantly, give us better balance and stability.  Core strength allows our muscles to relieve the stress off our bones in keeping an erect spine and maintaining good posture, and in doing so, reduces the risk of lower back injury.  Especially as we age, the ability to perform daily activities without the increased risk of injury is a huge step in ensuring healthy, independent living. In a Jazzercise class, our customers get the assurance of knowing that core exercises are incorporated into their 60 minute workout, and they can reap the benefits of a strong core both know and as they age.

Q: Exercise programs and fitness trends come and go, and it seems there always is something new on the market.  Why has Jazzercise maintained its presence for so long and stayed so successful?

A: While dance aerobics programs like Jazzercise experienced extreme success especially in the 80’s, Jazzercise has actually had the most profitable, successful years in company history over the past decade.Jazzercise is a fusion of a variety of exercise programs.  In addition to dance aerobics, we include kickboxing, core, yoga, Pilates, and resistance training.  In fact, every 60 minute Jazzercise workout incorporates cardio, strength training and stretching.  Coupled with ability to burn up to 600 calories, it is a very efficient, effective workout.

We don’t necessarily give in to every “gimmick” that comes around, but we keep our program fresh and innovative by constantly improving on an already successful formula.  Our routines  are choreographed variety of music styles - everything from Top 40, rock, hip hop, jazz, techno as well as music from cutting edge artists.  In fact, my teenage daughters covet my iTunes library!

We give our customers a much needed outlet from the challenges and commitments of the day.  There is so much positive energy in a class – once the music begins we’ve all left our worries at the door.  The music is pumping, our bodies are working, and we reaffirm to ourselves just how important it is to allocate time for exercise.

Q: What can one expect from a typical class?

A: Well, besides a great workout, great music, and lots of fun – our typical Jazzercise  class is 60 minutes in length and is an integrative workout incorporating cardio, strength training and stretching.  We begin with a choreographed stretch and the cardio portion lasts 30 – 35 minutes.  We then do 15 – 20 minutes of strength training with weights and/or resistance tubes followed by a stretch to end the hour.  Throughout the entire workout, the instructor faces the class and is not only working out with them but is giving verbal cues to allow each customer to safely and effectively follow the routines.  In addition, each instructor offers lots of encouragement, peppered with perhaps some humor and insight, to engage each customer and motivate them to work at their maximum intensity.

I always tell my customers that the benefits of exercise start internally.  One of the best aspects of my job is celebrating the successes of our customers, and I don’t think a week goes by where someone tells me what a difference Jazzercise has made in their life.  The tangible benefits of exercise – one small success at a time - provide the motivation to keep fitness in our life.

Jazzercise has had a sustaining presence in the fitness industry, and we are celebrating our 45th anniversary this year. More than 7800 franchisees are in place throughout the world and 32,000 Jazzercise classes are taught weekly. Jazzercise Glen Ellyn is offering free classes the week of Feb. 10-16 and will have membership specials all month!  Class times and locations can be found at jazzercise.com.

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