National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from
(800) 950-NAMI;

Dancing for NAMI? Now that’s a Slam Dunk

By Brendan McLean, NAMI Communications Coordinator


During halftime at the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies NBA game on April 2, more than a hundred people dressed in their uniforms raced on to the court. No, not to get the court ready for the second half or to set a record for the biggest game of pick-up basketball, they were there to dance.

Women—and a few men and children—from Jazzercise centers from around the Oklahoma City metro area gathered to support NAMI by channeling the moves of Mick Jagger in a dance extravaganza.

“We know how important it is not only to address physical health benefits but also to promote emotional health,” said Stacy Bozarth, owner of Jazzercise Edmond, who orchestrated the event. “We always strive to infuse an overall ‘feel good’ factor into every workout as well as include cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility.”

In Jazzercise tradition, local groups do public performances for charitable causes. Jazzercise Edmond has been performing an annual performance at an Oklahoma City Thunder’s game for the past five years and this year they teamed up with NAMI. [See their performance online here.]

Some of the members of NAMI Oklahoma are also involved with Jazzercise and approached Stacy Bozarth with the idea of helping raise awareness and funds for NAMI. She thought it sounded terrific and the partnership was born. Some of the other participants in the Jazzercise class who had previously never heard of NAMI have already reached out to the NAMI members and revealed they knew someone who had experienced a mental illness and wanted to become involved.

With the support of family and friends sponsoring each dancer, Jazzercise Edmond was able to raise over $2,500 for NAMI. Members of Jazzercise Edmond will also be joining NAMI Oklahoma at their NAMIWalk on May 19 to help get everyone warmed up and excited.


“We are proud to be part of raising funds and awareness for NAMI,” said Bozarth, who has owned Jazzercise Edmond for 15 years.

The Jazzercise craze originated, and was well established, long before the latest dance workout craze, Zumba, was even born. Started in 1969, there are now over 32,000 Jazzercise classes every week across the country and it is the largest dance fitness program in the world.

But don’t let the name deceive you. Jazzercise isn’t about dancing to old jazz songs or wearing legwarmers. It’s an up-tempo workout crafted around the new pop and rock music that you hear on the radio. As a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga and kickboxing, Jazzercise creates an exciting atmosphere to stay in shape.

Being excited about working out is important; it can help motivate you to make a plan and stick to it. Many studies have shown that exercise can be an important tool in combating mental illness such as anxiety and moderate depression, in addition to physical illnesses such as heart disease or high blood pressure.