What can I say about Jacki’s? It’s changed my life – and that’s not hyperbole!
I started Jacki’s whilst at university and was instantly hooked. It was just the right balance of strengthening, toning and cardio and – most importantly – fun. Twenty-one years later and Jacki’s is still an essential part of my life. The classes are easy to follow but never boring and are kept fresh by the new music each term. Even at times of injury I’ve still been able to keep coming to class because it is a safe, low impact and non-competitive form of exercise. I cherish not only the exercise but the beautiful friendships I’ve made along the way.
Good for the brain as well as the body! This choreographed exercise program is, as others have said, a complete exercise program in one hour of fun, music, and dance. All you need is a good pair of shoes and an exercise mat and the instructor leads you through the hour, never boring as the choreography is brand new every term.
I first joined Jacki’s as a student in 1984, became an instructor in 1989 for ten years, then back to being a student in 2000 until 2007. I left the program then due to issues with my legs and didn’t return until late last year – 2022. During the 15 years away from Jacki’s I continued exercise through walking and Pilates and yoga, so have remained what I would call moderately fit. During 2020 I noticed my strength was less, my balance was deteriorating and walking became a chore, rather than an enjoyable pastime. This of course was the first year of Covid lockdowns, so it was difficult to gauge just how much my fitness was impacted. Eventually in March 2021, I saw a neurologist and was diagnosed with the onset of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). I was 69 years old.
This disease has no cure, the only certainty is that it increasingly kills off the cells in the brain that produce dopamine, used to control the involuntary and voluntary muscle movement. The result is tremor, muscle rigidity, slow, imprecise movement, and difficulty with balance and coordination.
Over the next few months, I tried several medications, until I finally found one that suits me (i.e doesn’t give me other side effects), and reduced the tremor. I also started an exercise program (called PD Warrior) designed by a neurological physiotherapist specifically for PD patients aimed at increasing the neurological pathways in the brain to enable better functionality of walking, fine motor skills, balance, and cognitive tasks. Again, Covid lockdowns inhibited any exercise regime, but by the end of 2021 I was back to Pilates and the PD Warrior program and walking a little. I was always interested in any information I could find on Parkinson’s disease and found in literature and other media many mentions of the use of dancing classes as a benefit to the cognitive and balance of PD patients.
So, late 2022, I recommenced Jacki’s Aerobic Dancing classes, with some trepidation I admit, knowing that my ability would be very much decreased.
Now, mid 2023, I am attending (and enjoying so much!) two classes a week. I am much slower than I was 15 years ago, and have some trouble with turning, but I feel I am improving each week. More importantly my balance has improved, my body strength and leg strength has improved, and with that comes more confidence in walking, going up and down stairs, and going to unfamiliar places. With an improved confidence my whole outlook has changed for the better. My friends and family have also commented how I seem to be quicker in my movements and as one friend said to me ‘back to normal’.
In summary, I think aerobic dancing, where you must think as well as move, and you must change from one movement to another quickly, is exercising the brain as well as the body. For me, in combination with the other exercises I do, and the medication, my Parkinson’s is for the moment under control and the addition of Jacki’s Aerobic Dancing to my life again has been a very positive and enriching experience.
In January 1981 I came home from England after spending my first Christmas there for 11 years and was very unhappy and homesick. I desperately needed something to do and came across an exercise program newly starting in Australia although very popular and well established in the USA, called Jacki Sorenson’s Aerobic Dancing. I decided to join – to pass the time. What a decision!
It turned out to be the best type of exercise made up of dance routines based on dance steps that anyone could do. It was necessary to concentrate so my mind was taken off my homesickness and I had a wonderful time thinking about the dance steps and enjoying the music and completely forgot how unhappy I was! The other women were delightful and we all laughed a lot while we were enjoying ourselves, losing weight and becoming fit.
My first instructor was Paula who had come to Australia to get the company on its feet. When she went back to the States I went to Cheryl Dart’s Lindfield class and as the student numbers were increasing, more classes were needed and she persuaded me to become an instructor. I taught for a couple of years.
That was 37 years ago and I’ve been dancing ever since. It’s seen me through difficult times and very sad times and I’ve made some wonderful friends along the way. It’s been an enormous part of my life and I really don’t know how I’d manage if I couldn’t dance. I can’t see myself ever giving it up!
Way back in 1981, I noticed an ad for Jacki Sorensen’s Aerobic Dancing in the newspaper, and I went along with a friend to try it. I was immediately hooked, and I’m still dancing! When I moved to a new area, one of the first things I did was find out where the closest Jacki’s class was, and join. I was delighted when an instructor came to work at the school where I taught, and conducted classes in the school hall after work. I went to these classes as well as my usual ones.
The classes are not competitive, and never become boring because each term brings new music and a new set of dances. I hate to miss a class, but if I do, I can always take advantage of the many other class times and venues available. As well as enjoying the exercise benefits, it’s great to be able to forget the stresses of the day and just focus on the music and the dances.
Jacki’s Aerobic Dancing has been a very important part of my life for a long time. I know I’ll have to stop dancing one day, but it’s not going to be any time soon. (The friend who joined with me danced for fifteen years at Jacki’s classes, until she moved interstate.)
I have been attending classes for 5 years and have found the combination of both the physical and mental effort different to other forms of exercise. The physical rewards of doing this type of exercise are well documented but it is the exercising of the brain that I find exciting. Learning new routines and dances each term improves my memory skills and concentration.
The structure of the class is appealing as it incorporates warm up activities, floor exercises, a new dance and a cool down routine. I feel at the end of each class that I have had a ‘whole’ body workout.
I find the flexibility to attend a class each week on different days and venues allows for family and work commitments to be more easily arranged.
The instructor and people in the class are very encouraging and the environment is non judgemental and supportive. I always leave a class planning when I can go back for the next one!
Having danced since the age of five (when my first solo performance on the stage of the local theatre was appearing as a dandelion in yards of yellow and green net), performing and eventually teaching dance at two universities in northern England and English Dance Theatre’s school, the fact I am still able to dance two to three times a week as a recreational pursuit is wonderful.
I love the way Jacki’s classes for each term are organised; the short warm up, floor work, ‘booster’ and never ending variety of lovely dances means that we can all work our way through the class and achieve a sense of pleasure and enjoyment at the same time as increasing our fitness levels. This sense of enjoyment is demonstrated by the numbers of my fellow dancers who can be seen attending the class week after week, and year after year.
Aside from your excellent teaching style, the music and choreography you use in class are truly inspirational and help to keep my muscles, co-ordination and heart working in harmony. When I went back to the UK last year to take a class of my old students from 21 years ago, I was amazed how the music and the choreography had remained in their minds after all these years–the connection between the music and the movement is strong and is one of the reasons why I enjoy your classes so much. I hope to be able to continue dancing with you for many years to come.
(Dr) Charlotte Smedley
I have been going to Jacki’s Aerobic Dancing since 1991. It has been a most enjoyable way to keep fit and maintain an active lifestyle. The sessions are conducted in a non competitive and friendly manner, catering to everyone regardless of dance or sports background. There is no pressure to perform.
Each term is different so participants can enjoy a lot of variety. The flexibility of attendance patterns and locations is most helpful in a busy life.
I think the length of time many of us have been going to aerobic dancing reflects its high standard. The sessions promote well being, enhance energy levels and contribute to health in a fun way. I would highly recommend Jacki’s Aerobic Dancing.
I think my friends and colleagues are thoroughly over my enthusiasm for Jacki Sorensen’s Aerobic Dancing classes. I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut when someone complains of being overweight or of feeling tired and lethargic. Why don’t you come to Aerobic Dancing classes? I suggest. Many have done so over the 14 years I have been attending, rarely missing their twice or thrice per week workout. This among people juggling jobs, businesses, family life, community work and childbirth! I’ve come to the conclusion that such a commitment is no great mystery. Jacki’s classes are fun and inexpensive. They change every 10-week term offering variety in the music, exercises and dances introduced. Jacki’s classes are also safe.
They follow a format of floorwork (crunches and stretches), light leg and arm weight exercises, and then several dance routines that get your heart pumping and your endorphins flowing. I really don’t know how I would have survived life’s challenges of the last 14 years without it!
Dr Toni Schofield
Faculty of Health Sciences
The University of Sydney
About three years ago I stumbled on an ad for Jacki’s in the local paper. After a few trial classes I was hooked with the program’s total body work out, use of weights and dance routines where you could lose yourself in the music and add your own touches if you wanted to. There are even times when that performance bug takes over and I commit a routine to memory and dance it like a performance. The people in the classes are warm and friendly and the level of instruction where I attend is exceptional. My only regret is that I can’t fit another class into my weekly routine.
Sharon Saad B.A..Dip Ed. M.A. Grad. Dip. Counselling. M.A.P.S.
In 1981, at age 41 and living on the low side of a hill, I got winded just walking to my letterbox. I knew I needed exercise but hated the very thought of it. I’d never have gone to my first Jacki’s class had the ad said exercise. But it said dancing. I loved dancing–what little I knew–but nobody had ever taught me how. My dictionary told me aerobic meant with air, with oxygen but not that Jacki’s Aerobic Dancing would revolutionise my life. Attending classes twice a week, within my first term I lost an inch on all my measurements and my recovery heart rate dropped by four beats per minute. I now had more energy than I’d had in my 20s. Miraculously, this was all happening without my even realising it, just as a side effect of doing something I loved. I’ve now been dancing with Jacki for 30 years, nearly 10 of them as an instructor, and every class has been a joy.