Internationally acclaimed dancer Amaya isn't regretful of her romantic impulse to run away and join the circus, a decision that sparked her notable and diverse career. The passionate performer was awarded Dancer of the Year by the International Academy of Middle Eastern Dance in 1998, and her documentary Gypsy Fire—which explores Spanish gypsy dancing—earned Amaya a Giza Award. Now, she channels more than 30 years of teaching experience and knowledge of several international dances, including Mexican folk, African, and a rare form of hot potato, into her dance classes. During these sessions, she overhauls boring cardio routines with basic belly-dancing techniques and Danza Mora moves—a marriage of Arabic and Spanish gypsy dance—which she infuses with cultural insights, inspiring philosophies, and nutrition advice. She also hosts women-only dance retreats to distant locales, during which she grants participants one-on-one dance training, spiritual guidance, and other opportunities such as the chance to observe a private Native American ceremonial harvest dance.
Amaya also believes in empowering young girls and women to reach their full potential. A portion of her DVD sales benefit The Girl Effect, a charity dedicated to empowering women and fighting for equal rights across the globe.
While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this ?just for fun? class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers?with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers?are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.
Certified massage therapist and healing artist Kerry Leigh traces her specialty in core synchronism back to the system?s developer, Robert Stevens, who first trained her to assist nature with techniques that promote inner-organism harmony. Kerry honed her massage skills as a backstage therapist at rock concerts, as the founder of the Odwalla Juice Company's on-site massage therapy program, and with the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health before starting her own practice at Actualize Your Health.
These days, Leigh and a team of therapists connect minds and bodies with cellular nutrition, aromatherapy with essential oils, and natural flower essences selected for their health-giving vibrational energy. Their background in athletics gives them a firsthand look at what hardworking muscles and spirits need to recover after grueling workouts or fisticuffs with inner demons.
New Mexico Fit Personal Training's owner, Michelle Morath, curates a curriculum of 11 different classes six days a week. Most sessions last only 25 minutes, like dates with a snowman wearing his sharpest wool cardigan. These brief but challenging blasts of cardio, strength training, or stretching fall in line with Michelle’s belief that anyone can improve his or her health with proper exercise. She helps older adults and those in the midst of rehabilitation ease back into workouts, whereas her fellow staffers work with young adults and teens. The staff also includes two massage therapists who customize sessions to your particular aches in order to re-balance bodies.
Snap Fitness, bustling with cardio and strength-training gear, throws open the doors to its spartan facilities 24/7. Before exercisers put sneaker to treadmill or lift their first weight, personal trainers meet with them to talk about their fitness goals before suggesting a personalized, 60-day fitness plan based on each client's strength, and cardio condition. The gym keeps members motivated with regular check-in calls and demystifies healthy eating with custom online meal plans designed by nutritionists. Certified personal trainers work individually with clients routinely, and professional instructors forestall exercise routine boredom with boot camp and yoga sessions throughout the week.
Matthew Sanchez traveled all the way to Beijing in search of wisdom from the masters of Oriental medicine. He practiced advanced pulse diagnosis and herbal formulary with Master Jimmy Wei-Yen Chang for eight years and honed his acupuncture skills in the style of Master Tung. Today, Matthew is a certified diplomate and a doctor of Oriental medicine. When he isn't practicing acupuncture techniques, such as cupping and moxa, Matthew promotes healing through custom herbal prescriptions. During his sessions, he recommends that clients wear comfortable clothing with easy access to knees, elbows, toes, shoulders, and heads.