Lawyers . . . homemakers . . . even Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe does it.
"Jazzercise is a dance-fitness program that anyone can do," explains its creator, Judi Sheppard Missett, a 35-year-old Doris Day lookalike. "If you can move you can dance, and if you can dance you can Jazzercise."
Missett and five Jazzercise instructors last week proved their point to members of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. At the end of the 20-minute demonstration, council member Dr. Sammy Lee spontaneously joined the dancers.
Jazzercise is the latest in a series of exercise-to-music programs to hit the Washington area. Like Aerobic Dancers, Disco-cize and Trim, Jazzercise uses swinging music and peppy dance movements to turn a potentially grueling -- and boring -- workout into fun.
Taking a follow-the-leader approach, students mimic the teacher as she struts, stretches and stomps through a routine, based on jazz dance movements and performed to everything from rock music to country-western to disco music.
Each 45-minute class begins with an up-tempo number, "to get the juices running," and contains about 20 minutes of standing routines and 20 minutes of floor dance.
"We encourage students to whoop, holler and generally be a kid again," says Missett, who shouts slogans to her students such as "shake your bootie" and "oh, yeah, get down."
"Mental fitness is the essential ingredient. As children we're fairly loose, fluid and able to move. But the older we get and the more responsibility we have, the tighter we become.
"Students release these tensions through their movement, their voices," says Missett. "And the more flexible our bodies are, the more flexible our lives can become.
"I've had students who, at first, were inhibited and unsure, now come up to me and say they feel much better about their bodies and can deal better with everyday problems. They are better bosses, they don't yell at their kids and their sex life is better."
Roughly 15 percent of her students are men, say Missett, who claims that : Jazzercise is a good body-conditioning routine for athletes, Jeri Sipe, wife of Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Sipe, is the Ohio-state Jazzercise coordinator and plans to teach a Jazzercise class to the team as a warm-up before home games.
A former professional dancer trained in ballet, modern, tap and jazz dance, Missett created Jazzercise in 1972 after teaching a movement class to the mothers of children taking dance class.
"The basic idea was for me to dance with them, but make it interesting and fun," she recalls. "I think the reason I feel good and I'm healthy is because of dancing, and I wanted to communicate that to others.
"It was fun -- I enjoyed it and the ladies enjoyed it. When my husband, my daughter and I moved to California, I decided to keep rolling with the same idea."
Although Missett claims she never intended Jazzercise to become a business, her small class at a California "Y" has blossomed into hundreds of classes across the country and around the world in such places as Israel, Brazil and the Philippines.
Instructors are tapped from talented students. If they pass an audition they can start their own Jazzercise classes in a particular location. They receive teaching materials, including a video-tape every six weeks with about 18 new Missett-choreographed routines.
In return, they give the organization a percentage of their earnings. Missett says her instructors make about $1,500 to $2,000 a month.
For those who live in areas which don't offer Jazzercise, she has written "Jazzercise" (Bantom Books, 193 pages, $1.95), with 300 step-by-step photos and 10 routines which can be performed to music available in most record stores.
Missett's goal is to have classes in every state and a twice-weekly national TV show.
"Like McDonald's has made hamburgers available, I want to make the joy of dance, and the exhilarating feeling of a fit body, available to as many people as cheaply as possible," she says.
Chelle Tierney, a former ballet, slimnastics and yoga teacher, brought Jazzercise to Virginia in January. About 400 students, age 6 to 65, pay from $14 to $18 for each eight-class session.
"It's so exhilarating, you don't realize it's work," says Tierney, who hopes to train instructors for classes in Maryland and the District.
"Most people in my classes have just gotten off work, and they come in with a great stone face. We start warming up and moving out and everything changes. And when they can work out and keep a smile on their face, well, I feel we've accomplished something."
Tierney will hold a free demonstration class Sept. 17 in Manassas and Alexandria. For more information call (703) 221-7482 .