As photos of Katie Kelly lunging and stretching on the sun-drenched beaches of Lake Michigan attest, all the world is her yoga studio. After acing her bachelor's degree from Michigan State University, she sought out renowned yoga sensei Jonny Kest in Birmingham, Michigan. At his levitating feet she learned his secrets, and when the time came, she rose up and snatched her 200-hour certification from his famously clenched fist. From there, she downward dogged and warrior posed her way up the coast, before finally opening her own cozy Saginaw studio.
Today, assisted by a faithful thermostat that keeps the atmosphere hot but not unbearable, she wrings sweat and toxins from bodies with the intense poses of Ashtanga yoga or the gentle stretches of relaxing Yin yoga. Classes spirit away distractions, creating a meditative space in which students turn off their cell phones, slip out of shoes, and set their portable microwaves to vibrate.
Shawn Sanders—one-fifth of a quintet of instructors trained in burlesque, Egyptian belly dance, and group fitness—helps women foster physical fitness and self-confidence through flirty exercise classes. In her bubblegum-hued studio, dancers teach women of all ages and builds the sensual signature pole moves that build long, lean muscles from torsos to toes. Students leery of performing elevated spins can pop into Zumba dance classes infused with latin music, where easy-to-follow steps burn calories and prepare guests for impromptu office dance parties. Pole Passion Fitness also hosts special pole-dancing events where women practice tantalizing routines in the company of their best friends, perfect for bachelorette parties or girls' nights out.
Snap Fitness's around-the-clock gyms enable members to work on their physical well-being with a cornucopia of fitness equipment. With 24-hour access, members don't have to let The Man tell them when to help themselves to Snap's strength and cardio equipment, which features built-in TVs and other media diversions. For those who exercise during conventional hours, Snap's friendly, unintimidating atmosphere welcomes patrons of all ability levels, unlike schoolyard dodge-ball squads. Members also enjoy nationwide access to all Snap Fitness locations, ideal for working out while traveling.
For a dose of custom advice, patrons can seek out a personal-training session with a certified coach, who helps them assess and address their fitness goals. Clients reap the benefit of individual attention as a personal trainer helps them tackle weight loss, prepare for an arm-wrestling competition, or unveil the mysteries of arcane cable-weight machines.
As the founder of Samadhi Yoga Center, Denise Alick leads by example, drawing on her own experiences practicing yoga for more than a decade. She and her staff of instructors guide adults and children alike through expert and introductory classes, from slow-flow yoga sessions that introduce first-time students to the basics of breath and movement to more involved Vinyasa flow classes. At the center's retail shop, yogis can pick up new mats, bags, and instructional DVDs that were recorded live in Samadhi's studio, free from the distracting celebrity cameos found in Hollywood yoga videos.