A Tribute to Peggy Buchanan, Local Jazzercise Legend

Workout-Dance Class in Her Name Scheduled for February 26

In 1994, Jazzercise celebrated 25 years in Santa Barbara. Peggy is on the stage at the Carrillo Rec Center with (from left to right) Karen Burgett, Janis Meloy, Jean Johnson, and Myrna Smith. | Credit: Courtesy

On Saturday, February 26, at 8:30 a.m. in the Carrillo Recreation Center Ballroom, the Peggy Buchanan Tribute Jazzercise class will be held to honor the recently passed Jazzercise instructor and health and fitness author. 

Buchanan is the woman responsible for bringing the music-fueled, feel-good aerobics and toning workout to Santa Barbara. The classes have been a staple of health in the community over the decades since, where women of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities spend an hour moving together. The fun-focused workout follows a curve of cardio build-up and winds down with toning and stretching set to music and led by a rotating group of instructors.

But what Buchanan provided, and what has continued to thrive at the Jazzercise classes, goes beyond physical fitness. The sessions have become a place where friendships grow and a network of support and camaraderie thrives. 

“The shocking first months of the quarantine were the longest I’ve gone without seeing my fellow Jazzercisers in years,” said regular participant Jean Johnson. “Our mental health was vastly improved once we figured out how to Zoom Jazzercise and reconnect with the Breakfast Club.” The latter is a group of women brought together by Jazzercise who now meet up every Saturday morning for meals and laughs.

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Jean and the rest of the Breakfast Club will celebrate Buchanan with the upcoming workout-dance tribute. “She had a knack for making our classes feel like a party,” Johnson fondly remembered. “She was the greatest multitasker I’ve ever seen: simultaneously directing choreography and giving nutrition and anatomy lessons.” 

“I’ve never needed anyone to hold me accountable for showing up at Jazzercise,” Johnson continued. “It’s just what we do, even on holidays or hungover, jet lagged, or outdoors in the freezing cold ― you always walk out feeling better than when you arrived.”

The legacy of Buchanan, as well as her enthusiasm for health and wellness, lives on through the Jazzercise community. All are welcome to join the classes via Zoom or in-person every day of the week at the Page Youth Center or Carrillo Rec Center. Weights and mats are suggested for the toning and stretching portion of the class, through modifications for standing and/or weight-free work are always provided for a personalized experience.

When you are ready to get moving, check the calendar at jazzercise.com or follow the Santa Barbara Jazzercise Facebook page.

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