Zumba or Jazzercise for a Wanna Be Fit Woman in Youth Ministry?

     As a half breed latina woman, with a Colombian heritage, I love Zumba and own both the DVD's and Wii Zumba game.  Zumba is a dance aerobics program which began in Colombia. When Alberto Perez forgot his Aerobics music at home for an aerobics class he was teaching, he did what any of us would do. He improvised and made it work. Just like a youth group game! He used the salsa and merengue music he had with him, and Zumba was born. After lots of success in Colombia, Zumba came to the US. My 7 year old daughter and I were rocking out to our Zumba wii game and after 20 minutes she asked to quit. "Mom, my hips hurt, can we stop now?" You go girl. Make your Colombian grandma proud and shake it!

     In my quest to overcome the fat youth-leader syndrome (and genetics) I signed up for a gym membership at my local 24 hour fitness. I have always struggled with my weight. Of course you can be a great overweight youth worker, but for me, I need energy, stamina and my health to keep up with it all. As a youth worker and mommy, I need to stay fit to run a ministry with a couple of hundred 11, 12, and 13 year old middle schoolers. My own kiddos deserve a mommy who is not always worn out, sick, and tired too.  With zero initiation fee, I forked over first and last months fee, and a hefty childcare fee ($20 a month for only 1 kid) because I wanted to attend a live Zumba class. I honestly went to 4 classes and after looking at my budget, I had to cancel it.  The $50 a month is killing me (the $30 gym fee + $20 childcare + $4 each if I brought my other kiddos).  The classes were fun and I enjoyed it enough to really want back at...wait for it...


     Then came Jazzercise. It sounds like something your mom does, with her leg warmers and terry cloth headband, with frizzy hair in a scrunchie, and cheesy dance moves. Not at all. It's like Zumba, only better. Pre-baby Julia, I had a Jazzercise membership because I love group dance aerobics. Treadmills, jogging, weights, sit-ups, push-ups and elliptical machines bore me to tears.  I cancelled my Jazzercise membership when I was waddling around with a huge baby bump. I tried Zumba after the baby was born. It was fun, I love it, it's awesome. But Zumba all the time? Not so much. This girl needs more variety.

     When my kids came home selling Entertainment coupon books for school, I found a Jazzercise coupon. My local Jazzercise franchise was featuring free Tuesdays in September, so I went back to a free class and loved it so much I re-enrolled on the spot with my coupon saving me lots of $$ up front. So why do I think Jazzercise is better than the Zumba classes at my local 24 Hour Fitness?

1) More group classes to choose from. One web click over to my local Jazzercise class calendar and I can see TONS more classes to attend. Zumba at 24 Hour Fitness? Just 1 or 2 a day if you are lucky...and hardly any at all on weekends. I am not about to pay more money to 24 Hour Fitness with an All Club membership so I can drive around town finding more Zumba classes to attend with a baby in tow.

2) No men and no mirrors.  I often felt uncoordinated, slow to catch on and totally dorky in my Zumba class. I would watch a lot of first timers come in, try it for awhile and then sheepishly leave when the instructor wasn't looking. They felt dumb compared to all the Zumba pros in the room. At Jazzercise, there are no (not that I've seen anyways) men and no mirrors. At least not at mine. I can look fat, I can look horrible, I can get the moves all wrong and there are no mirrors pointing it out to me. The instructor explains the moves much better than the Zumba ones, and gives you tons of freedom to modify as your ability level deems necessary.

3) Music Variety! I love my Colombian Zumba music, but not all the time. Jazzercise has a really great variety of music. From Madonna, to Miley Cyrus, to Justin Beiber, Shakira, John Meyer, Lady Gaga, Brittany, Carly Rae Jepsen, and tons, tons, more. A variety of genres. This is really a huge selling point for me. The variety of kick boxing moves, dance moves, belly dancing moves, latina inspired moves, and more, keep it interesting. I get bored of the same thing all of the time.

4) Toning/floor work .  This was actually a reason why I liked Zumba better, because I hate working with weights and doing floor work. The Zumba classes I experienced at 24 were just dance aerobics the whole time. I liked that... until I went back to Jazzercise. The toning, weights, and floor work at Jazzercise was surprisingly awesome. The music selection made it fun, the moves worked me, but not so much that I was begging for it to end. I didn't get bored because everything was so well choreographed and the instructor so personable.

5) More affordable. This may or may not be the case for you, but my Jazzercise cost less for me because child care is only $1 per kid per visit.  If I bring all three kids, it's $3 a visit. 24 Hour Fitness charges me $20 a month for their baby sitting service, and that is for only 1 child! If I needed to bring the baby and the two older kiddos, I would have to pay $8 each time I did that. With more of a class selection to choose from, I have more times I can attend class without the kids at all. So that helps a ton.

6) I can see the instructor.  Maybe this isn't a big deal to you, but I am a shortie. At my 24, the Zumba instructor is at floor level with the class. I could hardly see them at all. At Jazzercise, the instructor (at least at mine) is on a platform and everyone can see them really well. This matters to me, because I always need to see the instructor to know what the heck I am doing. Dancing is not intuitive to me. I have to pay attention and copy someone.

To be fair...here are a few things I did like about 24 Hour fitness:
1) The child care is more fun. They have a huge play room, play structure, slides, more toys, video games. My kids like going there.
2) If you want a gym experience and not just group dance fitness, you have more options.
3) The group fitness studio is very nice. Hardwood floors, nice lighting, nice sound, and mirrors (I don't like mirrors, but perhaps you do).
4) Perks. Towel service, big bathrooms, lap pool, showers, etc... Not a deal breaker for me, but a nice perk of a big gym.

Look at my Weight Watcher's Active link report after a Jazzercise class...woot woot.
Jazzercise helped me reach my goal on my new Active Link Monitor from Weight Watchers.
Look how my activity level spiked at 7pm and earned me 5 Activity Points Plus. 


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