Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO of Jazzercise Inc., recently published her third book, "Building A Business With A Beat." Soon to be yet another bestseller, "Building A Business With A Beat," chronicles the "dance party workout" that became a multi-million-dollar global franchise.
Sheppard Missett tips her hat to La Jolla's Dan McKinney Family YMCA, the arena from which Jazzercise was born and bred.
"The La Jolla YMCA was the first place in Southern Cal that gave me a chance to teach," said Sheppard Missett. "A student called the class Jazzercise — which I, of course, trademarked. La Jolla will forever hold a special place in my heart."
Chockfull of personal anecdotes and strategic business advice for every entrepreneur, Sheppard Missett narrates a legacy that transformed a passion into a profitable business that's now celebrating its golden jubilee.
In 2018, Jazzercise tallied sales at $2 billion. Today, 8,500 studios offer 32,000 classes per week in 32 countries.
"Our people work hard," she writes. "In any given week, they're teaching 32,000 classes per week, inspiring 70,000 customers every day."
Sidling the popularity of Jack La Lane, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gilda Marx, Jane Fonda, and Jackie Sorensen, Sheppard Missett constructed an empire based on her love for dance.
In the late 60s, touting a bachelor of science degree in radio and television production and theater from Northwestern University, Sheppard Missett choreographed a jazzy-fitness class that became an instant success in Chicago.
The family's move to Southern Cal in the early 70s continued to open up doors. Within five years of teaching an ensemble of overflowing classes for La Jolla's YMCA, Sheppard Missett trained the "First Ten" to teach her now-signature Jazzercise class.
The "wildly enthusiastic response" inspired her to transition from teaching independent contractors to selling the program as a franchise. Drawing upon "exceptional women of talent, ability, and ambition," Jazzercise became a fitness phenomenon.
By 1982, Jazzercise trailed Domino's Pizza as America's fastest-growing franchise.
Jazzercise conventions were held throughout the U.S. as well as England, Scotland, Italy, Mexico, Australia, and Japan to encourage studios to "connect, dance, celebrate, learn from each other and have fun."
"Having fun together has always been and always will be a core value," she writes.
The accolades, exposure, and programs snowballed.
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan crowned Sheppard Missett as the Top Woman Entrepreneur. Jazzercise albums went gold and platinum. Jazzercise performances were held at the Los Angeles Olympics; the Statue of Liberty, and Super Bowl halftime shows.
The 90's earmarked the successful launching of Jazzercise Kids Get Fit Programs.
Sheppard Missett continued to garner a sterling list of accolades that included: lifetime achievement awards from the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the International Association of Fitness Professionals, and the San Diego Business Journal; induction into the IDEA Hall of Fame, the National Association of Sport and Physical Education Hall of Fame and the Enterprising Women's Hall of Fame; the Mary Lehman MacLachlan Award for Economic Empowerment from the Women President's Organization; the Women Who Mean Business Award; the Committee of 200's Entrepreneurial Champion Luminary Award; the Gus Giordano Legacy Award; and the Charles Bucher Memorial Award for her contributions to youth fitness.
Inc. Magazine and Working Woman Magazine both dubbed her Entrepreneur of the Year. San Diego Business Journal twice crowned her with the Women Who Mean Business Award. In 2018, Sheppard Missett was honored with the Legacy Award from Enterprising Women Magazine.
Undaunted by her success, the kingpin remains actively involved in all things Jazzercise, including teaching.
"One of the great joys of doing what you love for a living is that you often work harder than you realize because it doesn't really feel like work at all," she writes.
Leaving no stone unturned, the fitness mogul also includes heart-wrenching personal stories that include her battle with breast cancer and the loss of her 36-year old son Brendan to addiction.
Cognizant of her blessed success, Sheppard Missett remains "devoted" to altruism. Jazzercise has raised over $28 million for numerous charities through its 50 years.
With no intention of slowing down, the CEO of the world's leading dance fitness program encourages everyone to "keep moving forward."
"Follow your passion, make helping as many people as possible your purpose, trust your inner voice, and, above all, keep going!"
"Building A Business With A Beat" is available for purchase on Amazon and other retailers.