Yesterday, the Jazzercise center she dreamed and made reality closed.
Next week, we’ll start a new chapter, under the auspices of Lori, one of our instructors who stepped up to keep the business going in another location not far from the oasis on Hope Street where we’ve been dancing for many years.
It was, as you might expect, an emotional morning. Change is never easy, after all, not even when it’s as simple as driving to a different address at a different time of day or day of the week.
So there were some tears, and lots of hugs. Our hearts were full.
What else could we do but dance?
“Oh, it’s just exercise,” you might be thinking.
That’s just one small piece of it.
Quite simply, Jazzercise changed my life.
On that dance floor, I found more than improved fitness.
I met the most incredible people, made some terrific friends, had the unbridled joy of watching a friend realize her dream and seeing the amazing things that happened as a result.
Moreover, I found pluck and self-confidence I didn’t know I had.
In turn, that new-found sense of self got me through a job layoff and the process of reinventing myself professionally.
It gave me the nerve to leave the next job, which was a horrible fit, and start at my current position, an exciting post that challenges me every day.
And that confidence-boost surely laid the foundation for the search (and discovery earlier this year!) of the woman who gave me life.
Pretty amazing for “just an exercise class,” eh?
And if all of that wasn’t enough, under Kristen’s mentorship, I was lucky enough to become an instructor 2 1/2 years ago.
To anyone who’d seen me at the first class I’d attended eight years ago — hugging the wall in old running pants, baggy T-shirt and well-worn Reeboks — it must surely have been an eye-opening metamorphosis.
It never would have happened if Kristen hadn’t spied something in me that I surely didn’t see.
(And don’t give away my secret, but I will never be half the instructor Kristen is, or that our other terrific instructors are.) Still, it’s a job full of rewards too numerous to name (and not just because it’s the only place people do what I tell them).
From that stage, I get to see the most amazing people doing the most incredible things. I’m privileged to provide hourlong escapes to help folks make a fitness milestone, forge friendships, de-stress, cope with adversity, weather illness and loss, and improve their own mental outlooks.
It is the best job I could ever have, and I’m so glad I could do it at the Jazzercise Center of Southwestern Connecticut. Kristen is off to some new adventures now; I just know she will continue to be an inspiration to me and so many others.
I hope I continue to do her proud.