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London · 519-657-7031


By Rita Hartley

I’ve been a Jazzercise instructor for over 15 years, so passion for our program is who I am. I recently had a chance to chat with Julie MacKinnon, a fairly new member as she’s just been doing it since the end of June, and now I’m even more stoked about what we do and why we do it. Julie set a goal to attend classes five days/week, as well as walking to and from class (approx. 5 km). Here’s what she had to say:

Q. How are you enjoying the Jazzercise program? Perhaps you could share two or three of your favourite things?

A. I LOVE the Jazzercise program. The BEST thing about it is the socialization. Everyone is SO friendly and we all work and sweat together. A lot of the women meet for coffee after class as well. It is very inclusive and a great way to learn more about many other activities, as well as learning about the women we stand beside in class. Gaby (Copeland, Jazzercise Fitness Centre owner) also plans social gatherings, including lunches, pot luck dinners and shows in Toronto.

I like the way Jazzercise challenges your brain with different moves, yet when your body gets into the flow of the moves you feel fantastic! Moving in sync with an entire room of people is an incredible feeling.

I like that it combines cardio with strength and stretching. No wonder I am more toned than ever before.

The instructors are amazing! They bring their own unique personalities and anecdotes to workouts that make you SWEAT!

The music selections are fun, stimulating and easy to move to.

Q. Since starting Jazzercise, what positive effects have you noticed with both brain and body function? Any other positive changes, like eating habits, energy levels, etc.?

A. I’d love to say I remember everything now, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I CAN say that some of the simple things I used to forget, I am now remembering – where I set my keys, unplugging my hair straightener and what I went upstairs for.

My body has seen the most dramatic changes. I have lost 30 pounds! I have never felt better.

I have seen improvements in my balance and flexibility (which I see in my Tai Chi classes).

I also recently accompanied a friend on the Goderich El Camino Trail. We hiked 30 km the first day and 20 km the second. It was pretty extreme hiking as the hills are steep, long, and covered in mud. I have never attempted anything like this before but am happy to say I completed it with no blisters or muscle aches of any kind, proving that my muscle strength and tone have definitely improved. I also was able to attend Jazzercise class on Monday morning without any problem.

I have been dieting as well but I find the exercise helps fight off my cravings to eat junk food. And of course as the scale moves down my motivation to eat less junk increases.

My energy level is through the roof! I get much more accomplished during the day than I did before joining Jazzercise. Even necessary housekeeping chores take less time and effort.

Q. I heard you joined through a study at Parkwood. Tell me a bit about the study, how you got involved, your thoughts on it.

A. I got involved through my father. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by Dr. Borrie when he was at Parkwood for a broken neck. The Alzheimer’s Society ran a series of lectures and Dr. Borrie was one of the lecturers. He announced that they were looking for post-menopausal women for a study involving Jazzercise.

I have always been curious about Jazzercise and believe there is a connection between Alzheimer’s and lack of exercise. I joined the study to help prove that Jazzercise is not only good for the body but also the brain.

There are four things that help fight Alzheimer’s:

  1. Remain physically active
  2. Eat a proper diet
  3. Be socially active
  4. Introduce diverse intellectual activities to the brain to keep it thinking in different directions

I believe Jazzercise delivers three out of the four: it is physical, social and intellectually stimulating – your brain has to be engaged in order to synchronize with others. Diet has to be maintained by the individual. As with anything in life, it all comes down to you. Give 100% in all four aspects and you won’t be disappointed.

Q. Is there anything you would like to add?

A. Jazzercise has truly changed my life. My mood has improved and my outlook on life is much more optimistic. When your body feels better and more flexible, your emotions (and mood) tend to become more flexible as well.

When the body is open, the mind tends to follow.