During this Pandemic, Jazzercise is keeping me sane and fit

My Jazzercise gear

I have been a Jazzercise instructor for almost six years, and before that, I was a customer for another two years. That means that for roughly eight years, I have been working out consistently with the same program, which has never happened before.

I’m originally from Brazil, and we don’t have Jazzercise over there. So I was always trying different workouts and signing up for gyms to give up a few months later because I was not too fond of any specific program or class. The only thing that I was semi-consistent with was running.

I moved to the US back in 2011, and my exercising pattern was the same. A few runs here and there but nothing else that I truly enjoyed. Until a friend recommended this workout, she was positive I would love. And I’m glad I listened to her advice and tried Jazzercise. I started in June/2012 and haven’t stopped ever since.

If you are not familiar with it — maybe you have been hiding under a rock or something — Jazzercise is a great fitness program that has been around since 1969, and it is still going strong. Super-strong, I would say. And don’t even roll your eyes at me or use any misconception you might have about Jazzercise. Because no, we are not your mom’s workout, and we don’t wear leg warmers anymore.

The classes are fun, challenging, and sweat-inducing, which I love. Whatever format — we have different class formats to please all preferences — you choose, I’m sure you will feel the burn. The combination of cardio and strength training is just perfect for making you dance away your worries and get your muscles flexing too. So you get the best of both worlds.

Jazzercise is not only a great workout, but it is also a fantastic community. These folks that share the dance floor with you will become friends, and you will enjoy going back to class to see those familiar faces every day. They will embrace you, and you will feel like part of that community too.

When I first started Jazzercise, I was in the US with the infamous wife visa, which meant I couldn’t work. So I had extra time in my hands. And let me tell you, having spare time is easily a way to get into your head to much, especially if you are in a new country without any friends. I have to say that I was not the happiest clam I could be back then.

After I started Jazzercise, I slowly was embraced by this community, and soon enough saw myself going out for coffee or lunch with my new friends. I met people who pointed me in the direction of volunteering work. People who were also immigrants or second-generation immigrants and knew what I was going through. So I can say that Jazzercise was an excellent way for me to exercise, stay healthy, and meet people. And that cycle made me love the program and be loyal to it. I found myself going to class Monday through Friday without even second-guessing myself. Working out became more than a habit; it was just second nature.

It didn’t take me long to realize I was interested in becoming an instructor. Becoming an instructor was my way to pay it forward and thank the community that quickly embraced me. Since I was always into dancing and had thought about becoming a personal trainer a few times, it was an easy decision. I waited until I was able to work and got certified to teach.

I love teaching! The energy I feel during class is fantastic. And considering that when you lead a class, you work much harder, it’s a win-win situation. Besides that, connecting to customers and seeing their faces and reactions during class is priceless. I’m a firm believer that if you love your workout, you will stick to it no matter what. And I love the fact that, as an instructor, I can motivate people to enjoy exercising while making the most out of it.

Fast forward to the pandemic, where we also had to adapt. Like many other fitness programs that saw facilities closed and classes halted, Jazzercise was no different. We had to migrate to live streaming. And apart from all the challenges of live stream classes — that alone could be a big piece — we had to adapt to the new normal.

We have been teaching via Facebook LIVE. So that means I have a camera (my iPhone) in front of me in my garage. I use a speaker to blast my music a little louder and live stream classes right from my home. Fun facts about LIVE classes? The camera is right in front of me, so I can see myself up close, which can be a little weird. Since I don’t use a mic for my live-streaming classes, I have to use a loud voice for people to hear me over the music. So by now, I’m sure my neighbors are used the music and screaming coming out of my garage.

The part of this new normal that is not as fun is that I can’t see the customers taking my class. I can’t see their smiles, sweaty faces, and their reactions to my class. I can’t make that eye contact or give that nod that warms our hearts and makes us closer to each other. The dynamic is different. I’m teaching for them but can only see myself. As crazy as this may sound, I still feel their energy, but oh boy, I miss the connection we make in person. But I do know who is cheering for a particular song, who is rolling their eyes for a harder move and who is singing along. I might not be able to see anyone, but I know what is happening on the other side of that screen.

We are doing weekly zoom calls to chat with customers, see their faces, and stay connected. It is not the same, but it is what’s available at the moment. If we need the zoom calls to know how everyone is doing and chat and make each other laugh, I’m in. The feeling of embrace is still the same.

A lot of things are different these days, and all of us are adapting as best as we can. But one thing I know for sure is that Jazzercise helped me stay sane and fit during this pandemic. Working out in my garage or living room and keeping my exercising routine has been the key to staying in a good mood and staying positive. So thanks Jazzercise and its community, for having my back once again.

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Wife. Mom. Writer. Jazzercise instructor. I’m a Brazilian expat turned American currently living in Santa Cruz, CA.

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Gisele Muller Sasso

Gisele Muller Sasso

Wife. Mom. Writer. Jazzercise instructor. I’m a Brazilian expat turned American currently living in Santa Cruz, CA.

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