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Dance to the music

Jazzercise classes feature low impact strength training dance moves and kickboxing

Posted: July 5, 2009 9:28 p.m.
Updated: July 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Jazzercise instructor Nancy Soukup, of Castaic, has been leading locals in exercise routines for nine years at the Castaic Sports Complex. The Jazzercise class is offered Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and on Saturday mornings.

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Thumping rhythms and the echo of Nancy Soukup's voice spill from the community room into the hall of the Castaic Sports Complex.

The music and the booming voice are the sounds of a Jazzercise class under way.

Soukup has taught aerobics for nearly 30 years, but it was about 14 years ago that she discovered a "new," adrenaline-pumping workout routine - Jazzercise.

"I took a Jazzercise class more than 14 years ago and I was immediately hooked," she said. Soukup was certified through Jazzercise, a private company run by founder Judi Sheppard Missett.

Jazzercise is a mix of aerobics and music, Soukup said. The aerobics moves are designed for every level of fitness, and the music appeals to all ages.

"You will hear everything in this class from Diana Krall to Beyonce to John Mayer," Soukup said.

The moves-and-music mix actually dates back 40 years ago. Jazzercise will celebrate its 40th birthday in Chicago in August.

Soukup's class takes her students through a one-hour routine that includes a 15-minute warmup, 30 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise and 15 minutes of stretching at the end.

The rigorous cardiovascular section of the workout mixes low-impact strength training, dance moves and kick boxing, Soukup said.

Soukup brought her grapevine move (a common Jazzercise dance move) to the Sports Complex situated a few miles south of the Grapevine nine years ago.

Standing just over 5 feet tall, she cranks out dance steps and kicks, all while encouraging the class through a microphone headset.

"Keep working those oblique muscles," Soukup shouts.

The class is mostly women ranging in age from their 20s to their early 60s, but all have the same goal.

"I'm here because I want to stay healthy," said Joanne Ladesma, 49, of Castaic. She is a loyal two-year veteran of the Jazzercise class and said it never gets boring.

"It's one hour of constant motion," she said.

Vicki Mata, 58, of Castaic, has spent two years in Jazzercise after she left an aerobic salsa class. "I was getting in a rut and wanted something new," she said.

Jazzercise stays new because the routines are updated every 10 weeks with new routines and music available through iTunes, Soukup said.

Robin Cooke, 61, of Castaic, never stops smiling during the class. Cooke gets plenty of exercise but nothing as fun as the Jazzercise class.

"This is better than walking," she said. "I get to be here with the ladies."

On Saturdays the Jazzercise class transforms into more than a place for people to sweat away stress and get in shape, Soukup said. The class turns into support for the students.

"We go to Starbucks after class and talk about our lives," she said. "It's about more than being physically fit."

For more information on Jazzercise, contact the Castaic Sports Complex at (661) 775-8865.

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