If you’re a Boomer or Gen Xer, you probably remember when Jane Fonda was aerobics queen, with her striped Spandex leotard, white terry cloth headband, and requisite legwarmers.
That was several decades ago, and at the ripe old age of 72, Fonda is now making a comeback, literally sweating to the oldies as she releases two new videos, er, make that DVDs. If that’s not a sign that aerobics has weathered the decades, I don’t know what is.
Jaimie L. Adler-Palter, 38, has been teaching aerobics long enough to remember the obsession with juice bars, Richard Simmons workouts, and tanning booths. But for those who have wandered away from health clubs since then, she’s here to tell you that step aerobics is still around, including such moves as “around the world” (knee lift, straddle down, direction change) and knee repeats.
“I love step and the creativity it offers. I put on funky music and make a lot of jokes so you don’t feel like you’re working out, but instead dancing with your friends. I’m a sweaty mess, just like my students. I want them to come in for an hour, close their mind and dance until the endorphins go through the roof.”
Whether it’s step, yoga or spinning drawing consumers in, health club membership has remained steady despite the economic slowdown, according to industry reports.
“I think people are visiting health clubs more often not only to improve health, but relieve stress,” says Adler-Palter, who teaches at the Lexington Fitness Club in Lexington, Mass and subs at local other clubs.
Like many fitness workers, she works part-time, earning anywhere from $30-$40 a class, and enjoying the perks of free membership allotted to club employees.
“My aerobics job provides slush fund money for buying that handbag or doing a little traveling,” says Adler-Palter, who also has a public relations business, Bayleaf Communications.
Q: Fitness trends come and go. What’s hot now?
A: I’m learning the trampoline for a rebounding class, an aerobics workout based on using a mini-exercise trampoline. Rebounding is easy on the joints, because the soft surface absorbs the shock, and you develop balance and coordination.
Q: What does it take to become a fitness instructor?
A: Some certifications are more valuable than others. AFFA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) is the most recognized certification for group fitness and requires a one-day workshop, followed by written and practical exams. For specializations, such as kickboxing, step, or spinning, an additional certification is required. IDEA Health and Fitness Association, and the American Council on Exercise are other credible certifying agencies. Once you’re certified, try to get a foot in the door by getting on the instructor list as a substitute teacher, until a full-time position opens up.
Q: How did you get into teaching aerobics?
A: I danced in high school, but got injured and had to do rehab, and gained some weight. In grad school, I joined a gym and was doing a lot of aerobics, and one of the instructors said, “You should teach yourself – you have a great personality and catch onto the choreography right away. And that’s how it all got started. Then after a while I got totally obsessed with it.
Q: Do you do Spandex and Lycra?
A: Those stretchy exercise clothes seemed to be designed for a demographic of 18 to 30; your body changes after that. I think they’re too tight – I don’t want to look in the mirror and think ‘There’s a roll.’
Q: Does your husband take your classes?
A: He’d rather go bike riding.