The athletic instructors at Athens Vertical Pole Dance Academy draw from backgrounds in aerial dance as they dispel common notions about pole dance through classes, workshops, and performances. They teach open-ended sensual and circus techniques to males and females inside a studio, where two 9-foot and two 14-foot spinning poles let students hone their strength, balance, and flexibility. Instructors reserve an impressive 24-foot static pole for special performances. Above the cushioned floor, stereo and theatrical lighting systems and a ballet bar let visitors warm up for dance performances or avant-garde staged readings of Charles Dickens' stories.
Though housed in a historic building downtown, Bikram Yoga Athens is a state-of the-art yoga studio, complete with a purified-air heating system and antimicrobial carpet. Classes, led by experienced Bikram instructors, take place in a room heated to 105 degrees, designed to detoxify systems and make muscles more pliable than Gumby losing a fight with a taffy puller. The studio rents or sells yoga mats and towels before class and houses changing rooms equipped with showers and bathrooms so that guests can cool down.
All day, every day, the walls of Fitness @ Five reverberate with the sound of vigorous exercise. The hubbub originates from more than 50 pieces of Life Fitness and Hammer Strength equipment, from treadmills and elliptical machines that display workout stats as they boost cardiovascular endurance to plate-loaded weightlifting machines that resist force as they strengthen muscles. Available to members and visitors, SunVision Elite tanning beds and a collection of lotions enhance or lock in golden hues.
Exercisers run, trot, lift, and exert all around The Omni Club of Athens, which holds over 150 pieces of cardiovascular equipment, most equipped with personal televisions. In a large and spacious group-exercise room, over 100 classes occur, such as yoga, spinning, or Zumba. A large rock-climbing structure in the shape of a bulldog welcomes ascent, while locker rooms wait complete with a sauna, lounge, pool tables, and massage chairs.
Overweight from a lifetime of inactivity, Merri Benham turned to yoga to take control of her body and cope with her chronic aches and high stress levels. The ancient Hindu discipline invigorated her body, helping her regain her youthful mobility and shave off 50 pounds. Eager to help others enjoy yoga's benefits, she's spent close to 5,000 hours teaching yoga—throughout the last 10-plus years—to students of all fitness levels ranging from children to NFL players to triathletes. Today, Merri leads various classes tailored for participants seeking a deep-muscle stretch, a beginner-friendly session, or an opportunity to show off a sweat-resistant onesie.
The sculpted instructors at Soul Shine supplement body-toning classes with individual instruction and hands-on guidance as they help students seek holistic well-being. Yoga sessions equip students with the necessary props, including mats, blankets, and rugby helmets, before initiating sequences devised to enhance flexibility and strength as they relieve stress. The studio’s flexible schedule boasts classes all week for students of vary skill levels, including Yoga Intermediate, which unveils the sweeping gestures of more advanced inversions and asanas, and Yoga Basics classes meet to review fundamental poses with the help of limber marionettes. All yoga sessions begin with a warm-up consisting of held postures and end with reflective Savasana breathing, as well as a celebratory high-five. Pilates class orchestrates a regimen of muscle-toning exercises that sculpt sturdy cores with smooth, controlled movements.