At the age of 14, Baltimore Yoga Village founder Anjali Sunita traveled to India, where she discovered the joys of simple living mixed with the sorrows of yearning for a greater purpose. After years of expanding her education and worldview through reading and the guidance of a college mentor, Anjali found peace within the rigid discipline and spiritual focus of a South Indian ashram. Soon setting her mind to sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with others, she taught in private homes and underserved schools before opening her own pair of studios known collectively as Baltimore Yoga Village.
There, a team of certified yoga instructors oversees a supportive community dedicated to peace, health, and spiritual growth. Whereas many studios’ teachers spend too much time teaching students to knit their own mats, Baltimore Yoga Village’s programs focus on the ancient practice of Hatha yoga, which includes deep breathing techniques, yoga postures with attention to physical alignment, and guided relaxation. The staff also leads regular workshops in a variety of topics, from Thai-yoga bodywork to meditation through devotional songs.
After navigating through the plethora of weightlifting and cardio equipment, guests at 40,000-square-foot Meadow Mill Athletic Club stand before a glass wall protecting them from the ricocheting squash balls speeding back and forth on 16 courts. Meadow Mill’s team of squash instructors leads personal sessions and group clinics on the indoor racket sport for youths and adults, and more seasoned players compete in tournaments often held at the facility.
Just beyond the workout floor and racket courts lie separate fitness studios, in which guests tone their bodies in yoga, Pilates, and 17 spin classes per week, led by certified trainers, who also tailor fitness programs to meet clients' needs in one-on-one sessions. Youth and toddler programs introduce kids as young as 18 months old to fitness with playful movements in Mini Movers, basic skills in Ballet, and fitness-focused games in Toddlercise, such as Pin the Javelin on the Donkey. Furthering demonstrating a dedication to health and wellness, an onsite therapist treats overworked muscles with acupuncture, stretch, and massage treatments.
Designed by founder and renaissance woman Lynne Brick and her accomplished husband, Victor, Brick Bodies and Lynne Brick's health clubs share a fitness cornucopia of group classes, personal-training sessions, and women’s health tips. They stock their workout facilities with premium cardio and strength-training equipment, as well as offer amenities that may include pools, childcare services, and volcano-free saunas. Each of the seven locations sports its own personality, including the Owings Mills and Belvedere facilities, which operate as all-female communities.
The Brick's also employ a team of certified instructors, who lead more than 30 types of group fitness classes, allowing students of all skill levels access to sessions that range from low-impact workouts, such as BodyVive, to more intense courses, such as the kickboxing-inspired BodyCombat classes.
Ali True has been an All-American lacrosse goalie, trained Dolph Lundgren, earned a degree in kinesiology, and received Baltimore magazine’s 2009 Best Personal Trainer award. No amount of accolades, however, can replace her passion for educating and training others to lead healthy, fitness-friendly lives. To this end, she left behind her days of celebrity-sculpting to open True Balance Studio, a facility that welcomes students of all levels of health and fame.
Neat rows of black kettlebells sit in front of mirrored walls until one-hour classes fill the gym with grunts of effort and the whistles of kettlebells about to boil over. Standard strength machines sit beside flexibility-boosting climbing frames or gymnastics-style rings suspended from the ceiling. Oscillating between the classrooms and the gym floor, Ali and her trainers coach their clients on cardio equipment, offer nutritional advice, or coax one last rep from straining muscles.
With chiropractic doctorates that crown undergraduate educations in human biology, Doctors of Chiropractic Jarrod Lippy and Joshua Levin bring wisdom and experience to their practice and to their philosophy, which integrates the health of both mind and body and centers around preventative care. The duo perform their back-mending services with the latest in high-tech equipment, including computerized spinal analyses, electrical muscle stimulation, and hydromassage, during which patients lie fully clothed inside a water-massage bed or beneath white-water rapids as pressurized jets assuage tension. The doctors focus on each patient individually, employing their extensive experience in personal and work injuries, lower-back pain, and arthritis to properly diagnose maladies, perform adjustments, and refer patients to additional specialists if necessary.
To symbolize the raw energy and intensity of their training program, Donna Pierce and Lauren Bunney named their gym—named "Baltimore's Best" by Baltimore magazine in 2010—after Costa Rica’s active Arenal Volcano, which relentlessly spews hot smoke and molten lava. Similarly, the fitness team turns up the heat of their fitness routines with the CrossFit regimen, which transforms bodies through simple, rigorous, no-frills workouts. Exercisers won’t find circuit training strength machines at Arenal’s 4,800-square-foot facility. Instead, they use free weights, medicines balls, and kettlebells to sculpt chiseled physiques. All students start out learning the proper form of CrossFit's functional movements before taking on the rigorous “workout of the day.” Sessions can be scaled to meet the fitness level of each participant, but always keep muscles guessing with varying reps, weight levels, and surprise trust falls.