Rick Martinez began his career as a registered nurse, working in emergency rooms across the country to help patients overcome intense physical traumas. However, it was during an 18-month tour of service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that Rick encountered the mother of a wounded soldier who changed his aspirations in life. Her indomitable spirit and the bravery with which she supported her son through his pain and recovery inspired Rick. Fully intent on helping people develop the unflinching resolve needed to better their own lives and well-being, he founded Fitness Porvida—Fitness for Life.
The center’s health gurus lead CrossFit and fitness sessions for students of virtually any fitness level, using functional exercises to create challenging, full-body workouts that build the strength and endurance necessary for students to bench-press their bathtubs. Yet physical exercise isn’t the only tool that the trainers employ—they also use nutritional guidance and camaraderie to empower their clients. Rick summarized this approach to the San Antonio Business Journal in 2010, saying, “when we treat the body as a whole the results are fantastic.”
Bikram Yoga San Antonio's instructors like to remind their students that for every expert yogi, there was a first class. They hold on to this humble philosophy at three studios, where high temperatures help both old hands and newcomers stay limber. The staff cautions their students against aiming for perfection during the 90-minute courses; instead maintaining that, by simply trying each of the 26 postures and two breathing exercises, bodies and minds achieve the maximum benefit.
To highlight the value of consistent practice, they encourage visitors to take the 60-day challenge, which charges students to attend one class every day for 60 days. Those who accomplish this task are immortalized by writing their name on the Challenge Wall, which doubles as the police force's superhero directory. The studios also honor individuals in their class community with the yogi of the month feature, a series of interviews with students about their Bikram yoga practice.
In cosmetology school, MieleDolce founder Luis Iturralde let his fellow students wax him for a class demonstration. His allergic reaction to the chemical wax made it a demonstration of more than proper waxing technique; his brief modeling gig also showed the importance of beauty treatments that avoid irritating skin. Iturralde carried this lesson to his spa, MieleDolce, where the staff sidestep chemical waxes in favor of threading or electrolysis.
The center’s specialty, however, consists of extending hair: its semipermanent silk and mink lash extensions come in a variety of lengths and curvatures, and technicians ensure a natural look by attaching them hair by hair. Additional services range from slimming body wraps infused with aloe vera and herbs to micro skin needling, an anti-aging treatment that can combat wrinkles, scarring, and signs of playing rugby in a crawlspace.
Pilates Authentica's Cecilia Dominguez may not have studied Pilates directly under its founder, Joseph Pilates, but she came pretty close. Working at a scant distance of one remove from the legendary exercise engineer, she studied with his former protégé, Romana Kryzanowska and her daughter. Under the two acolytes, Cecilia learned Pilates the way the original plyometric pioneer intended, and she continues that same tradition at her studio, where she leads private and group lessons. She follows his philosophies and exercises to the letter,
helping her students reap the slew of benefits that Pilates has to offer: boosted energy and circulation, increased flexibility, decreased stress, and posture straighter than a protractor that saw a ghost.
After passing through Divine Yoga’s entrance, the hot Texas sun fades into lush, flowery gardens. Inside, a swaying porch swing greets guests before they reach the airy studio, where the earthy aroma of a natural oak floor kindles memories of swimming in a vat of red wine. Seated on a stage framed by lavender walls and wafting white curtains, KRI-certified instructors lead students through Kundalini yoga classes that aim to increase physical and spiritual energy through various postures, breathing techniques, and gong meditation. In Pre-Natal classes, moms-to-be can relax and stretch before their big arrivals, after which Post-Natal classes invite babies to join in and hone the focus, relaxation, and flexibility required to back-flip out of the crib.
Dancers, black belts, and trained yoga gurus, the instructors at The Synergy Studios come from all walks of life. They each bring a different approach to overall wellness to the school. Classes take place in the historic Pearl brewery in studios with soaring cathedral ceilings and honey-hued hardwood floors.
Zumba sessions fill the room with the rumble of moving feet and quick breaths. Contented sighs drift out during meditation and yoga courses, which balance physical fitness and relaxation and help contribute to overall wellbeing. Some sessions are designed for particular groups, such as athletes, expecting mothers, and groups who always have to stick together because of what they saw in a mysterious cave.
For more than 130 years, the YMCA has worked to facilitate growth for individuals as well as communities by providing social-enrichment programs that promote honesty, respect, and responsibility. YMCA of Greater San Antonio, which features locations throughout the metropolitan area, helps people improve their lives with healthy living programs that offer inclusive training classes as well as lifelong learning classes. Youth development initiatives and childcare services allow children as well as teens to develop positive behaviors while exploring their interests in a safe, supportive environment. The centers also encourage social responsibility by providing opportunities to support local communities through volunteerism and charitable giving.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
The expert staff at Conshohocken Health & Fitness Club understands that no one wants to be gawked at or hassled when they're trying to exercise. The gym hosts a wide variety of cardio machines and free weights so members can work out at their own pace. Sometimes, though, a little help is necessary. That's why staffers help men and women of all ages and fitness abilities achieve their fitness goals through personal-training sessions and more than 20 group classes every week, including Pilates, spinning, and Zumba. Wellness coaches on staff help individuals develop custom-designed programs based on individual needs and propensity to turn down free candy.
At The Royal Canvas Painting Parlor, owner Cassie Black and her staff of art instructors teach painters of all skill levels to create canvas-bound masterpieces. Each class blurs the line between artistry and social interaction, like when Leonardo da Vinci would bring the Mona Lisa to parties as his date. The focus falls on a predetermined painting composition, ranging from a quirky, cartoonish sheep for children's classes to re-creations of iconic works such as van Gogh's The Starry Night to challenge more adept artists. While students follow step-by-step instructions, they sip wine, nibble snacks, and rediscover their creative side.
At Clay Casa, hundreds of unpainted ceramic figurines wait to be finished with more than 60 kinds of glaze—and they’re not the only things waiting in the shop's wings. In addition to paint-your-own ceramics, Clay Casa houses empty mosaic shapes and varieties of glittering glass and gems that can be combined and recombined to create sparkling tesserae. If that doesn’t satisfy artistic urges, visitors can fuse glass for make-your-own votives, bowls, or luxury thimbles. Instructors also hold instructional glass-cutting classes on more involved projects such as vases and bowls.
Trans4mations Gym encompasses more than the traditional rows of treadmills and stationary bikes. It’s a space where small groups gather throughout the day to partake in training sessions. The sessions usually last 45–60 minutes, and cover strength, conditioning, core fitness, and flexibility. The ever-changing routines are designed to replace fat with hard, lean muscle, no matter where exercisers initially fall on the fitness spectrum.
Anytime Fitness, as the name suggests, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 512 days a year with nonstop security. One month of gym access equips bodies with enough treadmills, cycles, elliptical machines, and weights to make them fit enough to run a marathon held in a swimming pool filled with mud. With personal LCD TVs and headphones on every piece of cardio equipment, runners infuse their heart-pumping routine with a hearty dose of entertainment while buffing up the muscles necessary to venture into eye-contact sports. A member of the on-staff fitness force will share knowledge of nutrition, the equipment, and sound exercise principles during a free personal-fitness orientation.
Certified live- and raw-food chef Christa Emrick teaches classes of up to 25 people how to craft delicious treats with raw, vegan ingredients and without cumbersome ovens. Guests at the Christmas Cookies class watch and learn as Chef Christa follows recipes taken from her own e-book, Holiday Raw Food Sweets and Treats, to produce cookies free of gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, refined sugar, and coal. Chef Christa also reveals a secret ingredient that can replace eggs, cream, and butter in recipes and out-perform them in food fights. After the class, participants can take home recipes and leftover sample Christmas cookies to enjoy or test them out on the taste buds of a department-store Santa.
Planet Fitness's massive, brightly colored edifices teem with aerobic, strength-training, tanning, and massage options, tailored to suit burgeoning buffs of all ages and abilities. After an intense muscle pummeling on the extensive selection of strength-training equipment and free weights, valiant athletes and masochistic vampires alike may bask in the unlimited artificial sunshine of the gym's tanning booths. Meanwhile, an army of shiatsu massage chairs stands at the ready, twiddling soothing robot thumbs and waiting to coax tension from tired tendons.