To look at Judi Sheppard Missett, it would be easy to think that hardly any time had passed since 1969. The bubbly and boundlessly energetic guru who turned some advice from her students into a $93 million empire in fitness is still the favorite instructor for Jazzercise classes. Judi Sheppard Missett is 75 now but goes at every routine with the same ferocity as she had when she started teaching dance from a Chicago studio.

Missett’s drive was a little overwhelming in those days. The majority of her students were stay-at-home moms who knew that Broadway would never be calling for most of them. “We don't want to be professional dancers,” reminded the well-meaning pupils, “We just want to look like one.”

The guidance would propel Judi Sheppard Missett as both a mother and a business mogul, and her fun, dance-based moves moved millions into becoming lifelong devotees.

As Jazzercise marks 50 years as a thriving fitness entity, Missett made time to talk with Michelle Miller for “CBS Sunday Morning” on June 23. She's heard all the jokes about Jazzercise being an 80s relic, and Judi and the thousands who take her classes every week have just one answer.

Still in step

Missett knew good advice when she heard it, and she was willing to take another great tip from a student.

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“You should call it Jazzercise,” the founder recalls being told after class one day. In very short order, the name was adopted, and music and movement became the pillars of every session. While Jane Fonda implored her followers to “feel the burn” in studios or from home, Judi Sheppard Missett’s opening greeting was “feel that beat.”

There was never any animosity between the Oscar-winning actress paternal acting genes flowing through her blood and the Jazzercise founder.

Missett and Fonda won ”a couple of awards together,” and Jane was nothing but gracious. “She was always friendly and so nice, and very supportive” as Judi remembers.

Jane Fonda Workout sessions are still on sale at Walmart, Amazon, and many other outlets. Just because Fonda’s instruction may have lured a more hard-core clientele, it doesn't mean that Jazzercise attendees don't win on loyalty and devotion.

A feature in Franchising.com reports that 50% of Jazzercise customers have been attending classes for 10 years or more. That's loyalty that any franchise would delight in attracting.

Initially, Jazzercise only issued its training tapes to certified instructors, but by the early 80s, the video medium became another huge marketing arm. Once again, Missett focused on keeping the training accessible and affordable.

A family fit to be tied

It's a treat to have Judi Sheppard Missett lead a class like the one in Carlsbad, California. Still, a Jazzercise class happens somewhere in the US, or elsewhere, all the time. The founder estimates that 32,000 classes per week are taught between 8000 franchisees. The numbers are even more impressive considering that only 15 students were enrolled in the fitness pioneer’s first Jazzercise class.

Missett is sharing her female empowerment focus and business mindfulness in her new book, “Building a Business with a Beat: Leadership Lessons from Jazzercise,” which will be released on June 25.

While the mistress of Jazzercise, herself, may not show up to lead every class, Missett’s daughter, Shanna Nelson, often travels to lead sessions and ensures quality and consistency. Michelle Miller pointed out that a customer stopped her to say: “This is not your mother's Jazzercise.” In this unusual case for the 50-year-old Nelson, the adage absolutely holds true.

“It's all I've ever known,” insists the daughter.

For Judi Sheppard Missett and her daughter, fitness and business seem to be in the genes.

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