Geneseo Jazzercise celebrates 25 years

Lisa Depies
In honor of Geneseo Jazzercise's 25th anniversary, a special instructors’ favorites class will be held at 8:15 a.m. July 12 at the Jazzercise facility, 215 Smith St. The class is free and open to the public.?Participants are asked to bring an item to donate to the food pantry. Pictured are? Jazzercise instructors, front row, from left: Laurie Loitz and Jenny Brieser. Second row, from left: Ashley White, Traci Mask, Lisa Meeker and Tami DeBisschop. Back row, from left: Anne? Sammons and Michelle Glazier.

From the moment Michelle Glazier walked into her first Jazzercise class, she knew she was hooked.

A senior at Augustana College at the time, Glazier’s exercise routine was limited almost exclusively to running.

When a friend mentioned a Jazzercise class being offered at the Moline YMCA, Glazier decided to check it out. “The moment I?walked in, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I was meant to do.’”

Jazzercise classes incorporate cardio, strength and stretch moves for a total body workout. The workouts all are done to popular music.

“The first class was so much fun, and I was impressed by the music,” she said. “I?never missed a class after that.”

Glazier wants to give others the chance to experience Jazzercise. At 8:15 a.m. July 12, Glazier will celebrate her 25th year of teaching Jazzercise with a special “instructors’ favorites” class at her Jazzercise facility, located at 215 Smith St, near Geneseo High School.

The class is free and open to the public, but participants are asked to bring an item to donate to the Geneseo Food Pantry. Personal hygiene and laundry items are particularly needed.

All eight Geneseo Jazzercise instructors will teach their favorite routines during the hour-long class.

“I know sometimes people are intimidated and scared to walk through the door for the first class,” said Glazier, adding she hopes the special anniversary class will provide an opportunity for first-time Jazzercisers to try a class.

“My students all say that once they walked through the door for the first time, people were so nice and helpful and made them feel at home,” she said. “I have met so many friends through Jazzercise. When you work out together, you just bond.”

After first falling in love with Jazzercise at the Moline YMCA, Glazier knew she wanted to become an instructor.

At that time, instructor certification could only be done at Jazzercise’s national workshops. (Today, instructors can become certified at regional sites.)

Glazier recalls asking her grandmother for an early college graduation gift so she could afford to fly to Florida — twice — to participate in the certification process.

“The first time I went to Florida was to audition,” said Glazier. After the audition, Glazier was accepted into an instructors’ program. She returned to Florida for a three-day workshop, after which she became a certified Jazzercise instructor.

“I ?taught my first class on July 5, 1985,” said Glazier. The class, which was held on the third floor of the Geneseo American Legion building, (“With no air conditioning,” said Glazier) drew approximately 20 people.

By the fall, she had relocated her classes to the Geneseo Community Center and was teaching classes of 80 to 100 people.

“I ?just loved the idea of bringing something different to Geneseo,” she said.

Although she initially taught classes in both Geneseo and Rock Island, Glazier was soon teaching only in Geneseo.

“I was renting space all over town,” she said. “We had classes at the Moose, the skating rink, the community center ...”

Renting space was “a hassel” said Glazier.

“There were all these headaches with renting,” she said, adding class schedules had to be modified to fit with each facility’s current schedule of events.

“My dad finally said to me, ‘Why don’t you just build a place?’” she recalls. And, in 1990, she did just that.

“It just made sense,” said Glazier.?“I wish I would have done it from the very beginning.”

Though Jazzercise has undergone numerous changes in the last 25 years (“When I ?started, we would Jazzercise without shoes,” said Glazier), the program’s sense of fun — and use of current popular music — has not.

“The workouts have gotten harder,” admits Glazier, who adds elements of pilates, kick boxing and strength training have been added to the routines. Each routine is approved by an exercise physiologist to make sure the moves are safe and beneficial.

“I realize Jazzercise isn’t for everyone, but for those who do try it, they receive a good workout ... and it’s amazing how fast an hour goes by,” she said.

Jazzercise was started in 1969 by Judi Sheppard Missett, who still runs the company with the help of her daughter, Shanna Missett Nelson.

Nearing its 40th anniversary, the now-international company is still going strong, and Glazier says she sees her Geneseo franchise having continued success.

“I don’t see Geneseo Jazzercise going anywhere. I think we’re just going to keep getting bigger and better,” said Glazier. “I joke that I’ll still be Jazzercising when I’m in a

wheelchair.”

For more information on the special July 12 class, or on any Jazzercise programs, phone 944-8280.