"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee, "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere." To make this challenging, yet hopeful philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cool-down exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance. Dahn Yoga is also taught at independently owned and operated franchises called Body & Brain Yoga.
Margaret Townsend first started dancing at age five and apprenticed with the La Jolla Ballet Company. She went on to teach yoga and dance in New York and later moved to Virginia to earn her master's of fine arts in dance. Since practicing yoga, Margaret has studied an array of styles such as iyengar, ashtanga, and pre- and post-natal yoga, in addition to earning certification in the integral tradition. Margaret is the founder and executive director of Yogis for Positive Change and the founder of Virginia Yoga Week.
As owner and director of River's Edge Yoga, Margaret draws on more than a decade of experience while guiding students through challenging movements and poses that strengthen and stretch sinews. A compassionate team of instructors mirrors her commitment to helping students grow and learn. Margaret also strives to live by the the Green Yoga Association's tenets, which encourage environmentally friendly practices, such as building earth empathic studios, hosting programs, and setting up blind dates for lonely trees.
Olivia Sheldon, the owner of Positive Energy Yoga, doesn't worry about doing yoga "right". Instead, her classes focus on doing what's right for each person in each moment. She encourages students to perform only what they have the ability and comfort to do, but not because she's going easy on them. The program is actually designed to help each student realize, and appreciate, his or her own potential and uniqueness. Her classes emphasize flow, with each pose seamlessly melding into the next for a serene workout, and she offers guidance to the students for taking that self-reliance out into their lives outside of the studio. She teaches her 75-minute classes three days a week, and students can take home a DVD of her sessions for at-home practice or to leave it on for pets looking for indoor exercise.
As someone who used to struggle with weight gain herself, Denise Lee understands the immense effort that goes into staying healthy. At Pinpoint Personal Training Services, she uses her personal experience to guide clients down the same path toward peak fitness that she undertook herself. Her exercise curriculum spans from kickboxing and yoga to cardio exercises and kettle-bell work. Because she personalizes her services with each client, she's adept at dealing with a range of needs, from rehabilitation after an injury to fitness newbies looking for guidance.
A 30-foot rock-climbing wall soars up through The Energy Fitness Club's two floors, towering over the 17,000 square feet of fitness facilities. Certified guides lead students up the custom-built routes during official climbing-certification classes. The presence of credentialed experts extends to private training studios, where nationally certified instructors lead a variety of innovative group fitness classes, along with boot camp, personal-training sessions, and nutrition consultations.
Below the climbing apparatus, rows of advanced cardio and strength-training equipment challenge guests. Once they retire from the club’s exercise arena, clients can revel in the elegant hardwood lockers that wrap the walls of the full-service changing rooms. Childcare facilities are also available. Throughout the month, the club hosts social events—from group hikes to happy hours with complimentary wine tastings—providing clients a chance to mingle and politely request permission to poke the bulging muscles of the buffest members.
Following the principles of Rael Isacowitcz’s Block System, the instructors at My Thrive Pilates design group Pilates workouts that build long, lean, and toned bodies regardless of experience. Instructors start new students slowly and show them how to master core skills before moving on the center’s more advanced classes. Introductory mat classes develop central tenets of spinal alignment and ribcage-breathing techniques, and Reformer classes help isolate and sculpt stronger muscles using precise motions on the Reformer apparatus. Students can also take advantage of the center’s eight-week bridal program and build a rock hard core that can be used to break ice cubes for a perfectly chilled wedding toast.