The international franchise Jazzercise has firmly established itself in Cairo with two thriving branches in Heliopolis and 6th of October, with a third one slated to open in New Cairo towards the end of the year.
Jazzercise was established in 1969 by Judi Sheppard Missett, a modern dancer, who invented a way to combine her love of dance, music and exercise. The franchise has grown exponentially and internationally but still revolves around the same principles. Jazzercise combines music, dance, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and resistance training in a set programme that lasts 60 minutes. “Jazzercise is a great way to stay fit and healthy, both physically and emotionally,” said Salma Shabana, Operations Manager of Jazzercise Egypt.
When asked how the programme affects emotional health Shabana explained that the benefits are numerous and documented. “Studies have shown that women who work out have a better self image than women who do not, even at comparable weight,” she said. “Exercise makes you feel good, it improves your self confidence and that positively impacts the way you deal with the people around you.”
A typical Jazzercise class is carefully crafted to cover most aspects of working out. “The classes start with a warm up to prevent people from injury. The second part is an aerobic section, which will bring up your heartbeat followed by an aerobic cool-down to slow the heart beat down to a more normal rhythm. The muscle toning segment that follows can involve the use of small weights, a yoga ball or an elastic band and after another cool-down the hour finishes with a stretching segment to prevent sore muscles the next day,” Shabana said. All of the exercises are done to music and the songs that are played help to set the pace and flow of the segments.
Jazzercise classes are all designed around the same principle and classes worldwide follow the same pattern. Every quarter the head office in the US releases a new list of songs, based on the Top 40, with specific choreography notes for each song. “Instructors are trained to read the choreography notes and can build their 60 minute class based on the set pattern the classes follow and pick the songs they would like to use,” Shabana explained. “The instructors are their own DJs.” The classes are exclusively for women and it does not look like this is slated to change. “Internationally the market for this kind of exercise for men is only 2%. More importantly, we believe that in Egypt women feel more at ease in an environment that is female only,” Shabana explained.
Next month a new instructor workshop will take place to add to the 10 instructors that currently work at Jazzercise. “We have four fulltime and six part time instructors and we are looking to recruit 10 more. The candidates need to take a 100+ question exam before the workshop, do a movement exam and learn CPR before they can become an instructor,” Shabana said. “You do not have to be super-fit to become an instructor – anyone that follows our programme for six weeks, has the enthusiasm and drive can qualify. Our instructors come from all walks of life: we have AUC students, a mum of three in her mid-forties, a singer and a ballerina amongst our current instructors.”