What You Never Knew About The History Of Jazzercise

What do you think of when someone mentions Jazzercise? Is it the picture of an insanely high-waisted pink leotard? Or is it a bleach blonde housewife sporting a voluminous perm? Jazzercise may be easy to spoof. Or written off as a hot trend that died at the end of the '80s. But we're asking you to see through the fog of Aqua Net, and give this cardio-dance fitness blend the credit it deserves.

Founded in 1969 in a suburb of Chicago, the company's founder, Judi Sheppard Missett, has claimed that Jazzercise went from being just a class to a business when she started teaching other women to teach the classes for her. This was in 1973 after Missett and her family had moved to San Diego. Because many of the women she taught to teach Jazzercise classes were military wives, they often moved around the country. And spread the craze by taking their Jazzercise skills with them (per San Diego Union-Tribune).

Let's explore more of the rich history of Jazzercise.

Don't think Jazzercise belongs in the dusty corner of previous fitness fads

According to the Judi Sheppard Missett memoir, Jazzercise has accumulated $2 billion in sales (per The Atlantic). But before the company made a permanent mark in the world of fitness, Jazzercise was an unknown reference in American culture. Missett was a student at Northwestern University in the '60s. At that time, she was also teaching at a dance studio but failed to keep her students from dropping out of the class. She believed it was because people were more interested in physical fitness than learning technical dance moves. Missett recalls her former students at the time saying, "You know, Judi, we don't want to be pro­fessional dancers. We just want to look like them." It was then she decided to blend aerobics and dance together, and gave the unique blend the name Jazzercise (via Inc. Magazine).

Again, it may be easy to push Jazzercise into a dusty corner housing previous fitness fads. But have no doubt, this was a craze that made its mark on currently popular fitness classes such as Soul Cycle and Barry's Bootcamp. Missett was at the forefront of spewing body positive and empowering aspirations during her classes, long before these two companies became known for it (via The Atlantic).

The founder of Jazzercise is still teaching

If you weren't around to see just how big this fitness phenomena was at the height of it's popularity. It would be easy to overlook just how big of an impact it made on dancing as a popular form of fitness. Since it's creation, Jazzercisers — the women who perform the dance-inspired cardio moves — have performed in the opening ceremony of the Olympics, during NBA half times, and at the 100th anniversary ceremony of the Statue of Liberty (via Inc. Magazine

Missett has tattooed her mark on American culture for decades. And her love for the original boutique fitness craze appears to be genetic. Both her daughter and granddaughter are certified Jazzercise fitness instructors and involved in the groundbreaking franchise the matriarch of their family founded. As much as many of us feel Jazzercise is a workout of the past, the franchise is still very much up and running in it's 5th decade as a global business. The company is still showing impressive growth including 8,500 franchises in 25 countries. As for Missett, she is still teaching at least one Jazzercise class a week (via San Diego Union-Tribune). In a high waisted leotard? That, we can't verify.