At the age of 14, Baltimore Yoga Village founder Anjali Sunita traveled to India, where she discovered the joys of simple living mixed with the sorrows of yearning for a greater purpose. After years of expanding her education and worldview through reading and the guidance of a college mentor, Anjali found peace within the rigid discipline and spiritual focus of a South Indian ashram. Soon setting her mind to sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with others, she taught in private homes and underserved schools before opening her own pair of studios known collectively as Baltimore Yoga Village.
There, a team of certified yoga instructors oversees a supportive community dedicated to peace, health, and spiritual growth. Whereas many studios’ teachers spend too much time teaching students to knit their own mats, Baltimore Yoga Village’s programs focus on the ancient practice of Hatha yoga, which includes deep breathing techniques, yoga postures with attention to physical alignment, and guided relaxation. The staff also leads regular workshops in a variety of topics, from Thai-yoga bodywork to meditation through devotional songs.
The American Visionary Art Museum devotes its space to original work by self-taught artists who honed their craft—often unintentionally—while operating on the outskirts of the formal art world. As temporary exhibitions explore a particular artist or theme in depth, the permanent collection displays thousands of powerful and often whimsical items, such as Andrew Logan's mirror-winged Black Icarus, or the haunting Applewood Figure, an emaciated sculpture said to wince whenever someone eats a piece of fruit. The museum spreads its arresting pieces throughout three historical buildings, including the expansive main building, which boasts a reflective mirrored-mosaic exterior and neighbors the Tall Sculpture Barn, an ex-whiskey warehouse fully equipped with 45-foot ceilings for large-scale projects. A wildflower garden—complete with meditation chapel—and a sculpture plaza featuring a 55-foot whirligig beckon visitors to the museum's outdoor space, where envious clouds shape themselves into crude versions of Pietà. Completing any trip, the museum's Sideshow gift shop stuffs shopping bags with an ever-rotating collection of eclectic artwork, jewelry, toys, and more.
Designed by founder and renaissance woman Lynne Brick and her accomplished husband, Victor, Brick Bodies and Lynne Brick's health clubs share a fitness cornucopia of group classes, personal-training sessions, and women’s health tips. They stock their workout facilities with premium cardio and strength-training equipment, as well as offer amenities that may include pools, childcare services, and volcano-free saunas. Each of the seven locations sports its own personality, including the Owings Mills and Belvedere facilities, which operate as all-female communities.
The Brick's also employ a team of certified instructors, who lead more than 30 types of group fitness classes, allowing students of all skill levels access to sessions that range from low-impact workouts, such as BodyVive, to more intense courses, such as the kickboxing-inspired BodyCombat classes.
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House was built in 1793, originally owned by the Young-Pickersgill family. Mary Pickersgill, maker of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag, is among the historical figures portrayed. Mary and her family—including her mother, Rebecca Young, and her apprentice, Grace Wisher—describe life in the 19th century and how Mary stitched the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem and the national anthem.
After exploring the house on 30- to 40-minute self-guided or docent-led tours, guests can learn about America's defense of the Chesapeake Bay against the British navy, which culminated in the battle that inspired Key's verse. The first floor's permanent exhibition gallery focuses on that defense with artifacts such as a drum used by an American soldier during the bombardment of Ft. McHenry. Kid attendees, meanwhile, can head over to the Discovery Gallery to whip up a pretend meal at a replica of the Flag House kitchen or design their own flag to string up on the gallery's flagpole.
Since 1844, Maryland Historical Society has kept residents connected to their state's heritage by publishing educational books and a quarterly magazine. These days, its museum brings that archived history to life with more than 350,000 objects, most notably the oldest-known surviving manuscript of Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner," which includes its original, crossed out title, "Get Ready for Baseball, America." Guests can also marvel at artifacts ranging from 900 pieces of furniture made between 1634 and 2000 to more than 2,000 paintings, including seven by Joshua Johnson, America's first professional African American portrait painter. Meanwhile, its Civil War exhibit occupies more than 5,000 square feet with 3-D video presentations. The society also sponsors extensive educational programs that enlighten young students with field trips, plus adult programs that include lectures, concerts, and symposia.
The trainers at Canton Club work as a team to motivate and guide clients through their fitness programs. Panoramic views of Baltimore's Inner Harbor probably don't hurt, either. In this positive atmosphere, exercise regimens combine holistic and functional-fitness training methods, all of which are constantly updated to keep participants' health evolving and their muscles from slowly turning into stone.
Small group and team-training programs alike include ample individual attention for every member. Between scheduled meetings with advisers, these custom programs plunge clients into Turbo Kick, Zumba, TRX suspension training, suspension-based aerial yoga, and other group classes. Some programs also offer workouts designed in-house, like XPF, which includes high-intensity interval training and kettlebells.
After earning her Bikram yoga instructor certification from the practice's founder in 1999, Bikram Choudhury, studio director Sarah Ittmann traveled the world teaching the 26-posture practice throughout the United States, Canada, England, and Ireland. Now settled in Baltimore, Sarah, her husband Henri, and their team of certified Bikram teachers host daily classes in a 2,000-square-foot space. The studio also features ample free parking in the rear of the building.
Since the hot temperatures—which hover around the 100-degree mark—incite healthy sweating and detoxification, staffers regularly steam-wash the antimicrobial, nonslip floor to keep the studio as clean as Mr. Bubble's standup routine. They also provide men's and women's locker rooms equipped with showers, toiletries, and hair-dryers.
Ultrazone Laser Tag might be familiar to fans of
The Real World, whose cast members—fed up with drama—blew off steam by ducking colorful laser beams in the sprawling multilevel arena's fog-filled maze. There's enough space for 45 vest-clad players to face off at one time, and plasma monitors let the next wave watch the game as they eagerly await their turn. The expansive recreation center also hosts sleepover parties that grant exclusive overnight use of the laser-tag facilities, the plasma-screen theater, and the room that's inexplicably full of doorknobs. Outside the arena, an arcade keeps synapses ablaze with video games, air hockey, and golf simulators, supplemented with slices of Papa John's pizza from the cafe.
The Baltimore Museum of Industry highlights the workers and small businesspeople whose contributions during the Industrial Revolution and beyond helped build the country’s framework. Visitors can take a gander at the museum’s 100,000-object collection—including an 1850s shipyard bell and an 1820s Acorn printing press—and romp through bygone eras, dropping by sites including the recently renovated 1865 Platt Oyster Cannery and a reproduction of the 1910 pharmacy where Noxzema was invented. Just beyond the interior walls lies the last operating steam tugboat in the nation, the coal-fired SS Baltimore, as well as the 1937 Mini-Mariner, a prototype for the WWII flying boat bomber, two pieces of aquatic history more inspirational than a sailor's duffle filled with Popeye quotes.
For Bikram Yoga Baltimore's Emily and Eddie Garner, yoga isn't just exercise. It's a dance that purifies the body and silent song that stirs the soul. Drawing upon intensive study with Bikram yoga's founder and Emily's years of ballet training, the couple fills 90-minute classes with 26 graceful poses that stretch and strengthen the entire body. Heated rooms in Cockeysville and Harbor East loosen students' muscles, making them as pliable as a gymnast made entirely of pipe cleaners. Calibrated for both beginners and advanced students, the workout boosts circulation, which can help ease chronic pain and oust pent-up toxins. In addition to hosting classes, each studio rents mats and sells energy boosters such as vitamin-fortified water and Emergen-C supplements.
It's hard to be bored at the MAC. With three locations and a host of unique fitness programs, the fitness center has something for even the most indecisive of exercisers. Want to swim in the saltwater lap pools? Play squash on one of the courts? Take part in a MAC training camp? Or start a specialty regimen in the Kinesis, TRX, or Pilates Reformer studio? Committed to a comprehensive wellness program, staffers offer complimentary consultations for new members, as well as nutritional programs. The trainers at MAC Wellness help guests reach their fitness goals while having fun. Athletes looking to restore pre-injury prowess can also dip into one of the therapy pools or whirlpools with a personal trainer.
S.J. Koch Duffy's electric boats are eco-conscious, as they don't burn any fuel. Emitting zero emissions, the 22- and 18-foot rental boats provide breathtaking views upon departure from any of the company's two regional watery locales. Based on the harbor of choice, renters can take the canopied vessels floating by Annapolis's US Naval Academy, along the waterfront restaurants of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. On board, a built-in stereo system emits an energetic score to each renter's adventure. Duffy's website claims the boats are as easy to drive as a golf cart, but also offers training for new drivers. Self-propelled adventures are also popular, as the company also rents paddleboats and kayaks.
Inside a practice space heated between 80 and 90 degrees, yogis Michele and Sean guide students of all ages and experience levels through the reinvigorating poses of Vinyasa power yoga. During up to two classes per day, the instructors help pupils master the style's breathing techniques and synchronized postures, which transition seamlessly into one another, much like a month of video-game playing leads to a Cheetos addiction. The heated room coaxes muscles into sinking into deeper stretches for increased flexibility and detoxifies bodies via sweat. A stock of free rental mats cushions guests throughout the session, and a free introductory course for new students allows novices to sample the Vinyasa style every Thursday night.
Owner Anita Ammon’s disinterest in logging jogging hours on the treadmill led her to develop Xpose’s approach to keeping fitness fun. The class schedule offers 50-minute sessions organized into varying degrees of difficulty by the cheerful staff. Beginner sessions prep strengthening, walking, and transitional moves while advanced offerings focus on climbing, inverted moves, intricate spins, and introductory astrophysics. Choose the classes that are right for you, and then call ahead to make a reservation. Both pole and chair classes employ natural movements to increase flexibility, improve cardiovascular fitness, and produce long, lean muscles while maintaining a fun environment.
Repeatedly deemed Best Rock Club and once voted Best Drunken Hookup Bar by City Paper readers, Ottobar hosts an ongoing calendar of local and touring bands, DJs, and comedians. With bars on both floors of the two-story venue, guests can sip on mixed drinks and beers while listening to live music or pumping quarters into an award-winning jukebox. The venue also hosts special nights including spelling bees and underground dance parties, wherein guests shake their hips to the sound of shoveling.