gold, in 1982.) But their programs were built
around an individual celebrity, while Jazzercise was built around our franchisees.
Still, by the early ’90s, some of those
franchisees were starting to retire. Potential
new franchisees had other options, like Pilates
and yoga. The recession also hurt: 1991 was
our first unprofitable year—our only one to
date. We responded with a rebate program
that rewarded instructors for signing up lots
of students. The money attracted many new
franchisees and kept the veterans on board.
Today, when you say “Jazzercise,” people say,
“Oh, are you still here? Are you still doing
what you did in the ’80s?” Yes to the first
question; no to the second.
We wouldn’t have survived if we had kept
doing what we did back then. We’ve updated
our instructor communications with every
shift in technology: from videotape to CDs to
DVDs to streaming. We’ve developed all kinds
of special classes, including high-intensity
interval training, core, and fusion, which
mixes cardio and strength training.
I still create and send to franchisees new
choreography and new music every 10 weeks
to keep things fresh and exciting. My daughter,
Shanna Missett Nelson, became president
of the business in 2010. We kind of run it
I don’t think of all these new fitness programs
as competitors. I think of the couch as my
competitor. More than 80 percent of all adults
don’t exercise enough, so there are plenty of
potential new customers for all the fitness
programs. Any company getting people to
move, in my opinion, is great.
When we were starting out, I remember
applying for a line of credit. (We didn’t need
it, but I thought it would be good to have.) The
bank president looked at our numbers, and he
looked at me, and he said, “I think this is a fad.
You’re just exercise girls.”
Seven years later, that bank went out of
business. Fifty years later, I’m still here.
Christina M. Rice
She’s created a
women of color.
“There are a lot of different pathways that lead to success.”
She’s taking the model she perfected at Drybar—providing
expensive beauty treatments at a reduced cost—to massages
with her new venture, Squeeze.
She’s brought a new
inclusivity—and a raw
Her digital health
clinic has given
two million people
access to on-demand health care.
Her smart socks
are helping patients
Thanks to her, keeping fit at home is as
easy as looking in
your (smart) mirror.
+ A new approach to addiction, lifesaving smart socks—and a damn good massage.