Carlsbad-Based Jazzercise Turns 50
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / July 9, 2019
Jazzercise founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett is out with a book about her business success.
Speaker 1: 00:00 It started 50 years ago with a dance teacher and 15 students who wanted to get fit. Now the Carlsbad based jazzercise has 32,000 classes a week across the nation and in 25 different countries through the ups and downs of the fitness industry, jazzercise has found a way to keep current and popular with several generations of women. As part of the company's 50th birthday, founder and CEO, Judy Shepard, mis, it is out with a book about jazzercise success and lessons and how to start a successful business in any industry. Her book is called building a business with a beat leadership lessons from jazzercise and empire built on passion, purpose and heart. Judy Shepard Mysa joins me now and Judy, welcome to the program.
Speaker 2: 00:48 Thank you. Very nice to be here.
Speaker 1: 00:50 Now, fitness classes of all kinds are all over the place today, but not so much back in 1969 how did you get the idea that a fitness dance class for women would work?
Speaker 2: 01:03 Yeah, not so much back then. Well, I'll tell you what. I was teaching regular jazz dance classes, working professionally in a dance company and, and teaching in the company's studio. I had a lot of women in my class and I was teaching the class like they were going to go on and become professional dancers when in fact they didn't want to be professional dancers. They just wanted to look like one. When I realized that I just changed the structure of the class, I made it, um, fun, easy to follow. I turned them away from the mirror. I based what I did and in the jazz damned technique that I knew, but just made it really fun, gave them lots of positive encouragement. And as you said, I had about 15 people in the first class and the second class they all brought her friend and I had 30 in the next class. Those friends brought another friend and I had 60. And um, it was just, um, crowded and we had a lot of fun. And that was the beginning.
Speaker 1: 02:11 How did you sell the idea of workouts aimed at women? Because that wasn't too popular back in the day, was it?
Speaker 2: 02:18 No, it, it wasn't, but, uh, you know, it didn't mean that people didn't want them. I just, that they didn't have many choices. Uh, they had to go to the y and do a calisthenics or that sort of thing, or they went to a strict dance class, which was really as I found out, too strict for them. So it was pretty easy. Uh, once people found out what I was doing that, you know, they can have some fun, they would meet friends and, and they would, could change the way their body, uh, was looking. And so it, you know, it was an easy sale. Very easy.
Speaker 1: 02:58 Now has obviously
Speaker 2: 03:00 grown dramatically over the last 50 years, but how has it changed with the times? It has changed considerably because number one, uh, as my book says, change is really important in the growth of a company, any kind of company. And, uh, number two, I love to change because I kind of get bored doing the same thing over and over. When I first started, it was Dan spaced and that still a constant today as well. So as we began to develop an industry and there was scientific studies out there about how long did you need to really work the cardio system. I changed what I did and made that segment longer. And then we learned that we needed strength training, that that was really important. And now today we have many different formats of the, all the formats are based in dance technique, but we have a high intensity interval training format. We have, uh, a dance cardio box format and we have a core format. So, um, we just keep plodding along and enjoying ourselves, but we keep changing and keep adding and making it great as we learn more about what the body needs and, and uh, how we can fuel that, uh, intent of people who want really to change how they feel and change how they look.
Speaker 1: 04:32 Even with that jazzercise has been around so long, do you find that you have to fight against the image that may be jazzercise as your mother's or your grandmother's workout?
Speaker 2: 04:43 Well, of course we do. I'll be very frank and honest about that. We certainly have that a little bit of a myth too that we have to um, work on all the time. People Think, oh gosh, are you the same as you were, you know, back way back when? And the answer is no. And it's kind of a double edged sword because we wouldn't still be here and thriving like we are if we had not changed. And so, you know, it's, it's, we have to just educate folks and letting them know that that, you know, this is why we're here 50 years. It's because we keep making progress, we keep adding things, we keep changing things and that's how any company thrives.
Speaker 1: 05:32 Now your book, building a business with a beat is of course about your company, but it's also about inspiring other people to follow their dream of opening their own business. Why did you make that a focus of your book? Well, because
Speaker 2: 05:47 I have always, as the years went past, I noticed that I had so many people, women in particular asked that very question. And I would say, well, you first have to do your passion. You know, that's an a very important thing. If you're doing something that you love, then you're going to work as hard as you need to to make whatever your goal is happen. Uh, also I think when you're doing your passion, it, it really lets you be okay with being different and unique. And that's a good thing cause when you're different, you're special. I think also it helps you when you're doing things that are, that you're passionate about. It helps you, um, dream even bigger dreams than maybe you thought you could. So my first suggestion to anybody would be find what you love and then do what you love and you can be happy and be as successful as you want to be.
Speaker 1: 06:55 Can you share with us maybe one of your most important business lessons that you've learned?
Speaker 2: 07:00 Well, yeah, I spoke of passion. I think in also included in that as you know, doing a passion that it serves a purpose that makes a difference, uh, to someone else, to your community. I also think when you are opening a business or thinking about that you, you really have to use three parts of your body. The first is your head. You gotta think through things. The second part is your gut. Pay attention to what your gut tells you because it's never ever going to lead you astray. And the third thing is make the decisions and do what you have to do with heart. I think you remember those things and you can't go wrong.
Speaker 1: 07:48 I've been speaking with Judy Shepard, miss ad, founder and CEO of Jazzercise, and we've been talking about her new book, building a business with a beat leadership lessons from jazzercise and empire built on passion, purpose, and heart. Judy, thank you so much.
Speaker 2: 08:04 You are so welcome.