By Katherine Nowicki
Massachusetts native Judi Scudder has been involved in fitness most of her life. Scudder began taking ballet lessons as a child and graduated from Hartford Ballet College and worked as a New England Patriots cheerleader for three seasons beginning in 1980. About a year after her college graduation, Scudder started the New Bedford Ballet studio in Massachusetts, which is still operating and now a nonprofit organization. For the last two years, Scudder has been running Judi’s DanceFit Studio in Capistrano Beach.
“Our classes are tailored to older women, sometimes with physical problems,” Scudder said. “They enjoy the music, the experience and they stay much healthier.”
The majority of clientele are female, but Scudder said there are a few daring men who attend classes as well.
“Personally, I’ve noticed that I have more energy now,” said client Cindy Sneathen. “I’ve started jogging and I notice that I’m not out of breath, and I’ve lost about 25 pounds.”
Sneathen brings a FitBit activity tracker and typically records 5,000 to 6,000 steps per class.
“Dancing is fun anyway and this increases energy,” added client Dee Mavalvala. “I think any age group can do it. I’ve had major back surgery and I can do a lot. It’s a great workout.”
Instructor Natalie Brown has been at Judi’s DanceFit for one year and teaching Zumba for four.
“We’re like a family here, which is what I like. We’re concerned about the members and try to please them as best we can,” Brown said. “We try to make it fun. It’s my everything; it’s our everything.”
“Our sense of community really sets us apart,” Scudder said. “People here get to know and care about each other. Nobody feels like a number.”
Judi’s Dancefit shares space with Club Salsa, which mainly operates in the evenings. In addition to classes offered Monday through Saturday, Judi’s DanceFit offers theme classes such as “I love the 80’s” once a month and volunteers hold brunch at the studio the first Friday of every month.
“I have been certified to teach Zumba for five years and teaching it for four, and over the years I’ve seen that it stands the test of time,” Scudder said. “It keeps people coming back.”
Scudder is also interested in aspects of health and fitness not directly related to exercise. In some ways Scudder’s DanceFit is a lifestyle. Every Sunday, she emails clients a list of updates for the week as well as a recipe or other health related tips.
“I’ve been helping people get fit for a long time,” Scudder said. “I started moving into fitness after I graduated from college and people started asking me for advice. My background is primarily in ballet so it’s second nature to me. There’s a misconception that exercise is all or nothing and it’s really not. I want to block out that myth. You don’t have to run six miles every day to be healthy. Every bit of consistent exercise makes a difference.”
Clients are appreciative of the studio’s efforts.
“This class is just wonderful for women our age,” said client Karen Grigg. “It means so much to all of us.”
“People keep coming in here and telling me we’re the best keep secret,” Scudder said. “I don’t want to be a secret anymore.”
Judi’s DanceFit Studio, located at 34202 Camino Capistrano in Capistrano Beach, is open Monday through Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. For a complete list of weekly classes, call 714.717.7187 or visit www.judisdancefit.com.
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