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Judi Sheppard Missett
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Judi Sheppard Missett founded Jazzercise in 1969 and remains CEO of the world’s leading dance fitness program with 7,800 franchisees teaching 32,000 classes weekly in 32 countries. The franchise business has empowered women to become successful entrepreneurs while the workout program has positively affected millions of people worldwide. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility, as well as an overall "feel good" factor. After 45 successful years in the fitness industry, Jazzercise was recently ranked #27 on the 2013 Entrepreneur Magazine Franchise 500.

Entries by Judi Sheppard Missett

Give a Little, Get a Lot -- Easy Ways to Give Back

(3) Comments | Posted August 27, 2014 | 4:24 PM

Want to add a little happiness to your life? Fill up your tank when you're feeling empty? Try doing something for someone else. From the simplest act of smiling at a stranger to a bigger commitment like fundraising, I've found the best way to feel better is...

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Make Time for Your Own Wellbeing: Ways to Rethink Exercise So You'll Actually Do It

(0) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 1:16 PM


Deadlines loom, new projects pop up and you're putting off that lunchtime workout... again. Your day fills up with rides to practice, errands and family obligations and you're driving everywhere except to the gym... again. With all those To Dos crowding your list...

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Don't Act Your Age

(6) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 1:12 PM


How old do you feel? I feel about 30. Then I look in the mirror, and I don't see a 30-year-old. What I do see is someone who looks pretty good, is active and healthy, and has a serious spark to her. Sure there...

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My Mother's Best Advice: 7 Ways to Create a Happy, Healthy Life

(3) Comments | Posted May 4, 2014 | 11:46 AM

My mother shaped the woman I would become, the family I would create and the business I would build. She taught me to find my passion; ask "Why not?"; make mistakes; and nurture the mind-body-spirit connection. In this month that celebrates motherhood, I’d like to share some of my mother’s best advice.

Find your passion:
My mother introduced me to dance at the age of 2. I was pigeon-toed and the doctor prescribed dance classes along with corrective shoes. I discovered very early that dance was my passion and would become my life’s work. My mother recognized my talent and devoted herself to nurturing it. She took me to weekly classes in our very small town of Red Oak, Iowa. She also drove me 100 miles roundtrip two times each week to a professional dance studio in Omaha, Nebraska. Without her I may never have realized my passion for dance and the role it would play in my life.

Don’t accept limitations:
My mother earned an associate's degree in business with a concentration in accounting, something uncommon for a woman in the 1930s. She was liberated before her time. When our town’s only dance teacher moved away my mother went to Omaha and recruited another teacher to take her place. She set up a business for her by finding a place for her to teach, doing her accounting, producing recitals, sewing costumes, and doing local marketing to bring in students.

When I was 11, I started my own dance studio in our remodeled basement. My mother once again went to work, this time helping her daughter set up and manage the business. Within three months I had 100 students. Though we didn’t realize it at the time, she had given me the business model that I would use to build Jazzercise.

Believe you can:
When I graduated from college and decided to start my own dance fitness business in Chicago it felt like second nature. I had watched my mother do it. I knew the model worked. I knew I could develop a program that would help women achieve their fitness goals, build their own businesses, support one another, and feel good doing it. She taught me to be an entrepreneur.

Let “Why not?” be your mantra:
I watched my mother tackle problems and create solutions on the fly. To give her daughter the opportunity to dance my mother inadvertently became an entrepreneur. She didn’t have a “plan” and didn’t let that stop her. She didn’t indulge in self doubt. She just kept moving forward. She believed in herself and she believed in me. That confidence took root. It gave me faith in myself and others.

Encourage accountability:
My mother never pushed me to dance. She told me explicitly that if it wasn’t what I wanted to do then I could stop and do something else. Knowing I had the freedom to take a different path made it easier to keep going. But she made sure I practiced, and she even practiced with me. She believed in the importance of working hard to refine talent rather than relying on it.

Make mistakes:
My mother showed me the importance of giving children the space to make their own choices -- good and bad. When I tested her, there were consequences, but she let me be in charge of my decisions. It’s difficult to see your child fail, get hurt or make mistakes, but that’s usually how they learn to be their best selves. Protecting them from consequences takes away their ability to handle adversity as well as their dignity.

Connect the mind, body and spirit:
This is one of my mother’s best lessons. Nurture your mind through education, working and surrounding yourself with people who challenge you in a positive way. Feed your spirit with meditation, spontaneity, doing what you love, being of service, and giving to others. Take care of your body with exercise, healthy eating and sleep. Strengthen your body so it can maintain the connection.

My mother, June Nelson Sheppard, taught me that as a person, a parent and a businesswoman all you can do is your best. And if you do it right, it can be fun! I’m proud to pass on my mother’s legacy to my daughter, son and granddaughters, and now to you. Let’s take a moment to honor mothers in all their many forms. I wish your family a very happy Mother’s Day!

Did your mother give you great advice? Share with us by leaving a comment.

Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people worldwide. The international franchise business hosts a network of 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in 32 countries. For more information, visit

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Let's Take It Outside

(0) Comments | Posted April 5, 2014 | 11:23 AM


The flowers are blooming and the sun is shining. Spring is finally emerging. After being confined to four walls all winter long, I'll bet you can't wait to rid yourself of cabin fever and get outdoors.

Did you know that nature is not only...

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All You Need Is Love

(0) Comments | Posted February 14, 2014 | 1:04 PM

As the Beatles once sang, "All you need is love." When it comes to matters of being healthy and happy, research indicates that this may be truer than we think! On top of making us feel overcome with joy, love can also positively affect our mental and physical well-being. During a month that is devoted to celebrating love in all its many forms, I'd like to explore how the positive emotions associated with love affect our minds and bodies from our heads down to our toes.

The National Institute of Health found that love physically and emotionally benefits us because it triggers the production of oxytocin, our body's natural feel-good hormone that helps contribute to the following -- and perhaps somewhat surprising -- health benefits:

  1. Love boosts your mental well-being. Couples who are happily in love are less likely to develop emotional disorders such as anxiety. A study conducted by Rutgers University found that participants who simply looked at photos of their loved ones experienced a sudden surge of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that produces feelings of happiness, vitality and an overall sense of calm.
  2. Love strengthens your immune system. Love makes us feel happy, and a Carnegie Mellon study demonstrates that people who report feeling happy produce more antibodies, which help make us more resistant to viruses. According to the same study, strong bonds between people can even help boost the resiliency of cancer-attacking white blood cells, helping stave off more serious diseases.
  3. Love is good for your heart. Love doesn't just make your heart go pitter patter, it can also protect it. A study conducted by the State University of New York at Oswego demonstrates that those who frequently engage in physical displays of affection with loved ones enjoy significantly lower blood pressure, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. I'd say that's reason enough to reach out and give someone you care about a big hug and kiss!
  4. Love helps give you radiant skin. The healthy glow associated with love is not just a myth! A University of Zurich study shows that love can help lower our stress levels. As a direct result of feeling more relaxed, our bodies will produce significantly less cortisol, the chemical known as the "stress hormone" that can wreak havoc on our emotions as well as our skin!
  5. Love can help make you physically fit. A personal favorite love benefit of mine. While many believe that being coupled up can make you gain weight, celebrity trainer Jay Cardiello told Woman's Day that couples who are active together work out 12 to 15 percent harder and yield better results than when exercising alone. It appears that a little loving encouragement -- or competition -- goes a long way!

Hopefully the clear evidence that love is so good for us in so many different ways helps serve as a reminder that we all could benefit from learning to give as well as receive love. So whether it's your significant other, your family, your friends, your pet, your passion, or perhaps even yourself, please make sure you make some room for love in your life this month -- and every month. Your health and happiness will thank you for it.

Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people worldwide. The international franchise business hosts a network of 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in 32 countries. For more information, visit

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Resolutions... or Way of Life?

(0) Comments | Posted January 7, 2014 | 5:37 PM

5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Happy New Year! I am confident your intentions are nothing but good as you resolve to become healthier and exercise more this year -- often times while holding a glass of champagne and reveling at midnight. However, as many of us know all too well,...

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Have a Happy Holiday Without Tipping the Scale

(7) Comments | Posted November 19, 2013 | 12:34 PM

The holidays are upon us, which means tasty temptations are decking the halls. Often, our weight tends to creep up this time of year, and come January, we start feeling a bit like that plump Thanksgiving turkey! This season, as you pass the mashed potatoes and gravy, you can also...

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Surprising Benefits of Exercise

(4) Comments | Posted October 23, 2013 | 1:49 PM


Healthy heart. Stronger bones. Leaner muscle mass. Faster metabolism. The benefits of exercise are far reaching, and most of us are familiar with the advantages of working up a sweat. We know that exercise helps trim the waistline, tone the biceps and...

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