May 2019

Growing up Jazzercise

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Growing up Jazzercise

(Images from left: Staci on a 90s billboard, Staci with her mom, Staci with her two daughters.)

Growing up in the beautiful fray of Jazzercise is a magical thing. For starters, there’s never any shortage of dance music wafting through the house. There’s also tons of killer dance moves to learn and a huge, supportive community just a class away!

We asked some of our favorite Jazzercise kids what is was like growing up with instructor parents, to share some of their fondest memories, and how being a part of our tribe has influenced them into adulthood.

Who is your mom and how are you related to Jazzercise?

Marty: My mom is Mary Wadsworth, an instructor for over three decades. I was five years old when she started teaching at the Tomball Roller Rink in Cypress, Texas.

Staci: My mom is Dani Gresham and she has been an instructor almost my entire life. I was one year old when she started teaching.

Shanna: My mom is Judi Sheppard Missett - our founder and CEO. I was 10 months old when she taught what would become Jazzercise.

What are your first memories of Jazzercise?

Marty: My very first memory was in a makeshift babysitting room in a church during a Halloween Jazzercise class. My mother was dressed as Madonna and my father was dressed as Rambo. I hope this truly encapsulates why I turned out the way I did.

Staci: My first memories of Jazzercise go back to a church location (Church of the Cross) where my mom taught classes for years. I remember running around the big gym after classes and talking with all of the ladies.

Staci and her sister with Judi Sheppard Missett.

Shanna: I remember being little and not realizing that not all moms put on tights and leotards and taught dance classes. After all the hours I’d spent playing in the corner of a class, I had no idea there was life outside of Jazzercise!

Are there any highlights or funny stories you can share?

Marty: Countless Junior Jazzercise recitals! My favorite was dancing to the “Ninja Rap” from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2” by the legendary Vanilla Ice. I also remember doing a choreographed basketball routine with balls and members of my high school basketball team during a Jazzercise class. Were we “High School Musical” before there was “High School Musical”? You decide. Do I know the lyrics to EVERY popular 80s and 90s song because the sweet sounds were pulsing through the walls into the babysitting room every night of my childhood? Yes, yes I do.

What three ways did your parents involvement in the program impact your life?


1. Fitness and nutrition were ingrained into my brain. My parents taught me how to eat a balanced diet, about all the major muscle groups in the body and how to work them, and how to get up on a stage and talk to large groups of people.

2. My family’s work ethic is a direct result of mimicking what my mom did as an instructor.

3. I worked for my parents for over a decade and now stretch my creative muscles (that I admit I got from my mother) in advertising.

Marty and his family with Judi Sheppard Missett.


1. Drive and work ethic through Jazzercise. My mom showed me how important it is to work hard. My biggest fear is to let her down so I do my best to always give it my all.

2. Travel. My mom used to take us along on Jazzercise trips and to events.  

3. Comradery. The feeling you get from Jazzercise is like no other. It feels like an extended family.


1. Movement has always been a part of my life. It is normal and necessary.

2. I’ve always had amazing, beautiful and strong women in my life to look up to.

3. I’ve never thought that I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted to do and LOVE it and be successful.

Shanna with her mom Judi Sheppard Missett, and Judi's mentor Gus Giordano.

If you have kids, how does Jazzercise impact your kids today?

Staci: I love that my girls see that fitness and nutrition are such a big part of my life. I have been teaching Jazzercise their whole lives so they are growing up knowing the importance of exercise.

Shanna: Jazzercise majorly impacts my daughters Skyla and Sienna - both of whom are competitive dancers. They’re so proud of their “Jammy” (what they call my mom) and have even set a world record for the largest class taught by kids in Hiroshima, Japan.

How do you think growing up with this tribe around you impacted your own adult life?

Marty: I learned at a very young age that it takes a village to achieve your fitness goals. I want you to read that again. It takes a village  for YOU to achieve perceived success.

Staci: Some of my greatest role models, aside from my mom, are due to Jazzercise. She made some of her best friends in Jazzercise and they have made a giant impact on my life and are now impacting my girls’ lives.

Shanna: This incredible community of women has seen me, my mom, and each other through everything. We’ve had customers and instructors go through cancer, divorce, and so many other life changes here, where they’ve been supported, and accepted in whatever state they are, for whoever they are. I really believe the love of this community changes lives. Not to mention the health benefits of exercise.

Shanna and her mom Judi Sheppard Missett, and her two daughters Skyla and Sienna.

What do you want people who either have never heard of us or aren’t part of the Jazzercise family to know about us?

Marty: It’s more than a fitness program, it’s a family.

Staci: I want them to know how kick ass our classes are and that they won’t find another program like ours. It is more than just a fitness program, it is a that will hold you accountable and miss you when you aren’t in class.

Shanna: We are contemporary, modern, effective and FUN. You may come for the workout or to lose weight, but what you will get are amazing relationships that are so special and different. I know when someone thinks about working out they don’t think about relationships, but it is our “secret sauce” and I want more people to try our sauce!

What’s your “growing up with Jazzercise” story? Tell us below!

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