This time next week it will be 2012 and people all over the world will be in the opening stages of trying to keep their New Years resolutions. For some people either losing weight from the holiday season or just staying in shape may be right at the top of their list.
For residents of Howell and the surrounding area, Fitness Center of Howell on Route 9 looks to be a place where those people can keep their resolutions and make new friends all at the same time. And while shedding the holiday weight may be one reason people come to her business, owner Lisa Hogan said she hopes they come for other reasons as well. "Jazzercise is fitness, friendship and it's fun," she said.
Even when they are not in class, Hogan said the students enjoy spending time together in more social environments. And while most of the students are women, she said there are some men who take part in the classes as well.
Open seven days a week there are classes offered at all times of the day which makes it more available to people no matter what their schedule. Of the 35 classes offered, all but four follow the same basic techniques with the other being more of the low impact variety.
No matter their age, Hogan said the people who come to her location can benefit from the exercise. "It's a very diverse group," she said. "I have college girls all the way up to great grandmothers. They're very fit great grandmothers but they can all do the same class."
Over the course of the hour-long class, Hogan said students can burn close to 600 calories. "It's a high intensity workout," she said. The hour includes 35 minutes of aerobics and stretching as well as 20 minutes of strength training. Hogan said they use a format similar to a bell curve. "We go up like a roller coaster and then back down," she said. "Each routine gets a little faster and a little harder. We get our heartbeat way up and then we bring it down."
It is the strength training in addition to the aerobics that Hogan said separates what they do from other exercise programs that are offered. With so many classes offered, Hogan said some students might only come a few times a week, while others might come seven days a week.
Hogan said she has nine teachers working at the school and that each of them brings something different to the classes they teach. "I think you'll always have a favorite instructor," she said. "We all have a little different style. Some are more dancey, some are more technical and some are more entertaining."
Not only are the teachers different, but she said the music and the moves they do also vary from class to class which helps to keep the whole experience fresh for the students. "Jazzercise provides the choreography, but you're not going to get the same workout over and over and that's what keeps you coming back," she said.
Whether they are first time students trying the complimentary class, or seasoned veterans, Hogan said she wants everyone to feel comfortable in the room. That, she said is why there are no mirrors, no intimidating equipment and friendly people they can work with and build their abilities with. The newcomers, she said, are paired with people with more experience so they can see what the class is all about and learn how it is done.
She said even the new students get something out of their very first classes. "It doesn't really matter if you go right and we go left or vice versa," she said. "You're still moving, you're still burning calories. It doesn't matter." More often than not, Hogan said, once people take a class they keep coming back. "Most people get really hooked," she said. "They're the biggest cheerleaders because like me they found something that they really enjoy and it's addictive."
Having started Jazzercise as a student and then as an instructor, Hogan said owner her own studio was not something she had originally intended to do. "I was going to be a substitute instructor and things happened and I had the opportunity to open classes in Jackson and I decided to do that as a brand new instructor," she said.
As a student herself, Hogan said the Jazzercise program fit what she was looking for right from the start. "When I saw it advertised coming in my area I was excited because I knew it was a quality program," she said. "When I took my first class, what I liked about it is I was so relieved I had finally found what I was looking for." Having tried other gyms and other programs, she sad Jazzercise was just the right fit. "I liked the dance element of what Jazzercise provides. It is a great workout."
After teaching in public buildings around Jackson for eight years, Hogan said she decided to open the Howell location one year ago this week. The opening of her studio coincided with the closing of another location in Manalapan and since that time she said the two groups have come together to form an even stronger community. Many of her students also come from nearby Freehold as well as Marlboro. "They came here and I'm very proud to see that most of them, a whole year later, are still here," she said.
With New Years Eve just around the corner, Hogan said she knows people will be looking for a place to go to shed some pounds and hopes they will come see what Jazzercise is all about. "What I tell them is if you're working out all the time, you don't even have to think about it," she said of the holiday weight gain. "For a lot of people January brings that guilt, the reality that they gained 10 pounds over the holidays and then here they go."
As a fitness program, Hogan said she hopes her and her instructors are able to help people get over that post holiday guilt. "To me, if you're fit it doesn't necessarily mean you're a size four," she said. "It means you're healthy from the inside out. You do still have to have a healthy diet along with exercise and that's how you have good health and fitness."
For more information on Jazzercise you can call them at 732-928-7891. They also have a national website, as well as a local website and a Facebook page. Hogan said for those interested in trying a class they are welcome to stop into the business at any time during normal hours.