Allen Yoga Center founder and certified instructor Brook Cheatham believes that "Yoga is more than an exercise. It gets into you at the very core of your being … your emotional baggage is stripped away along with your ego.” After years spent as an instructor at various studios, Brook decided to open her own space, where students can reflect on themselves while cultivating their physical and mental well being. The mocha-stained hardwood floors complement the yoga center's warm plum-and-gold walls, which are intentionally bare, hosting only a single portrait of a multilimbed deity, Gary the Octopus. Brook leads classes ranging in intensity from the cardiovascular-stimulating Vinyasa to the restorative and meditative Hatha. Regular workshops welcome guest instructors to educate students on a variety of wellness topics, and the teacher-training program grants knowledge to those who wish to someday lead their own classes.:m]]
Cathy Moses Baldasserini studied dance and therapy and received full scholarships to New York dance conservatories such as Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey. She began practicing Pilates as a way to hone and refine her body, the instrument of her self-expression. Now, she teaches it full time at her fitness-dedicated studio, Pilates for Life.
Joined by nine other teachers, Cathy reforms students' bodies with both basic and machine-assisted Pilates, yoga, kettlebells, and tai chi classes. She uses Pilates for its renowned ability to strengthen the site of injuries or chronic pain and to provide conditioning for weak joints, problem backs, and those who have osteoporosis. She also implements devices such as reformers—a system of pulleys and sliding platforms that enhance Pilates's classic horizontal exercises—and towers, which incorporate the natural resistance of gravity into Pilates movements.
Owners Dusty Solis and Emily Scoville and their team of eight instructors teach dance to students ages two and up at Pure Movement Dance and Fitness. They start tykes off with short classes to teach rhythm and coordination, before delving into specific styles such as ballet, jazz, or tap. Ultimately, they help prepare young dancers for competition, or at least arm adults with moves to blend in at a party or when they fall onto the stage at a musical.
While dancers work in the studios, family members can wait in the lobby, observing all the action on flat screen televisions synched with cameras in each studio. They can even purchase gifts to give each tiny dancer after class from the in-studio boutique, tucked neatly into a corner of the 8,800-square-foot facility.
Black Megaformer machines line the sunny studio as trained instructors guide students through core-strengthening Pilates classes. Drawing inspiration from the strength and flexibility of bamboo, the instructors format the classes to push all muscle groups to capacity. They strive to achieve muscle failure, a process that stimulates a great number of muscle fibers and steps up the body’s metabolism. In addition, the instructors teach students to perform slow and controlled movements at a consistent level of tension in order to build the most muscle possible. They place emphasis on the rest needed to reap maximum benefit from the session, encouraging new students to stick with two or three classes a week in order to avoid overloading and metamorphosing into a muscle-bound butterfly.
At Sunstone Yoga, students radiate calm and self-awareness as they practice ancient poses designed to stretch, strengthen, and purify the body. Instructors complete 500 hours of training in yogic techniques, teaching, and physiology before leading classes, so they can hand out researched, tested tips on safety and alignment. Most classes come in 30-, 60-, and 90-minute varieties and focus on energy or restorative relaxation. A two-class introductory series welcomes beginners with basic standing poses, and the popular fire series explores up to 34 poses in a 99-degree room that loosens muscles to facilitate deeper stretches as it ousts toxins. Filled with soothing music and 90-degree temperatures, the water series cultivates more serenity than getting a massage from a singing whale.