By Alex Courtenay
What do you think of when you hear the word Jazzercise? Neon leggings? Off-shoulder sweatshirts? Giant headbands? Leotards? Well, get your mind out of the ‘80s! It is 2014, and if you go to a Jazzercise class today dressed liked that, you would look ridiculous, unless that class were an ‘80s themed class. If that were the case, you would look totally awesome.
Dr. Susan Dummer, Jazzercise instructor and communication professor, used to have that same ‘80s stereotype of Jazzercise. Jazzercise is actually very modern and their philosophy is, “We believe fitness is an important aspect of well-being and enhances the overall quality of people’s lives; therefore, Jazzercise is committed to helping people understand and value the importance of health and fitness.” (jazzercise.com/companyinfo). Dummer describes it as “a dance–based aerobic workout that uses current music to get people of all ages moving.”
Initially, when Dummer learned her friends were actually Jazzercising, she was quite surprised. In 2009, however, Dummer’s stepfather Frank passed away. She had a difficult time grieving and realized she was not living a healthy lifestyle. An invitation from a friend to try Jazzercise changed things for Dummer.
After the first class, Dummer found Jazzercise to be difficult and had thoughts of quitting. However, not only did Dummer invest her money, but she also invested in her health. Grieving for Frank took a toll on her, and Jazzercise helped relieve her depression.
Not long after her first few classes, Dummer’s instructor noticed that she picked up Jazzercise quickly and suggested she become certified to teach Jazzercise. As a youngster, Dummer took ballet and those skills served her well in Jazzercise. Years prior, Frank had told Dummer that he imagined her teaching ballet one day.
In September 2011, Dummer became a fully certified Jazzercise instructor. Jazzercise proved to be a teaching opportunity for Dummer. Moreover, with Jazzercise authorized songs, weights and high-energy workouts, Dummer found that she could create her own class schedule. Early in the morning at 8 a.m., before teaching on Georgetown’s campus, Dummer is a Jazzercise instructor.
Dummer had some challenges and anxiety when she started teaching Jazzercise. With her people-pleasing personality, Dummer feared that if they did not like her they would not attend her classes. In her communication classes, the students have to be there. Even if they fake being interested, they cannot leave. With Jazzercise, they can just go to another class. Dummer knows that the time of the classes is also a factor, but she cannot help but think that it is a competition for how many people come to her class versus others. For Dummer, Jazzercise and communication classes are similar in that both are performances; she feels she has to keep everyone in the classes engaged at all times.
Dummer regularly teaches gender and relationship communication at Georgetown. She found that the current view on women’s body images has impacted her life as well as others. Jazzercise has helped through her own struggle with her body image, and she has seen it help those who take her classes. Dummer says that Jazzercise makes her feel better about herself. Now, wearing tank tops and leggings, Dummer finds that she is confident about her body.
Jazzercise has really changed Dummer’s life. Not only does she have “more energy and new found confidence,” she is also more patient with her kids, saying, “Practicing Jazzercise is not my only job. I am a full time communication professor at Georgetown College, as well as a mother. I clean, cook and practice new [Jazzercise] routines.” Over time, Dummer’s Jazzercise coworkers have become a great support system, helping each other through such trials as breast cancer diagnosis and the loss of family members.
Having discovered Jazzercise, Dummer can say that it has changed her life for the better. It has helped her with family, health, communication classes and life in general. Moreover, she also lost 38 pounds due to Jazzercise. Finally, Frank’s vision has come full-circle. While it is not ballet, Jazzercise is still something Frank knew Dummer would be good at teaching. Not only is Dummer a great communication professor and Jazzercise instructor, she is also a great person in general and a natural people pleaser.