Studio owner Claire's yoga journey began at her middle school's book fair, where a book about yoga caught her eye. On a whim, she took the book home and used it to help her begin at-home practice. Her dedication to the mind-body stayed with her through high school and college, where she wound up majoring in advertising and marketing. After spending some time in the ad field as a professional, she had an epiphany: she didn't believe in anything strongly enough to justify selling it, at least as not as much as she believed in yoga. With a nudge from her supportive husband, Claire decided to combine her passions for business and yoga by obtaining her 200-hour teaching certification and purchasing Yoga Innovations.
Today, Claire and her seven fellow yogis help guide students of all experience levels to greater fitness and healthier lifestyles via challenging and nurturing yoga sessions and core-bolstering Pilates classes. She specializes in power Vinyasa flow, which shepherds students through a series of difficult poses in 90+ degrees, and unheated prenatal yoga—a variation designed to help pregnant women mindfully battle the aches, pains, and pickle-juice cravings associated with pregnancy.
Equipment: Hand weights, pilates rings, yoga bands, yoga mats
Students should bring: Towel, if needed
Average class length: 60 minute fitness classes, 45 minute Zumba Kids' classes
Number of Staff: 5–10 people, 2 per class
Class location: Indoors only
Registration required: No
Good for beginners: Yes
Guests allowed: Yes
Parking: Metered street parking; free on the weekends and after 4pm Monday-Friday
Pro Tip: Our aim is to please our customers with great class formats and qualified instructors.
The Pilates Body’s team of certified instructors empowers musculature with yoga and Pilates classes using machines and mats that stretch bods, decompress spines, and calm minds. Pilates mat classes chisel midsections with a 55-minute regimen of resistance workouts that force bodies to reckon with the indefatigable scourge of gravity while focusing on Pilates fundamentals such as mindful breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and awareness of the body’s desire for pineapple shaved ice. Beginners can attend open-level mat classes and ease into training methods that move at a pace as gentle as a young Bambi, and experienced practitioners challenge limbs in the more rigorous high-intensity Pilates mat class. Students stave off bodily boredom by mixing Pilates with the salubrious stretching of Vinyasa yoga classes or therapeutic hot-yoga classes, where instructors guide pupils through a series of asanas in sweat-breaking 95-degree heat, ideal for purging the body of toxins and the mind of John Mellencamp lyrics.
Dominique Ponko sits at the head of the class, leading yogis through muscle-lengthening postures with the steady flow of her deep, rhythmic inhales and exhales. It’s been a long journey for Dominique. She first sought out yoga at the age of 26 to help her cope with life-threatening seizures and a slow-growing brain tumor. Yoga comforted her through three difficult years, welcoming her into a space for healing spiritually before she was able to find the proper medicine to help her heal physically. Though still a little shaky, Dominique has triumphed and opened four yoga studios—voted Best of the ‘Burgh in 2010—to inspire her students to ease their ailments, build strength, and find inner peace.
During her studio's heated Vinyasa-flow classes, an enthusiastic and supportive instructor guides students through a series of strengthening postures that work to increase flexibility and build muscles. Warm, balmy air courses through the studio, pricking beads of sweat on brows to help detox bodies and loosen stiff muscles into deep, soothing stretches.
Rebecca Rankin and Lisa Lau came out of college prepared to be an architect and an engineer, respectively. Today, they own Bikram Yoga Squirrel Hill. Their goals haven't changed much, though—Rebecca specializes in the architecture of the human body, and Lisa studies its engineering, teaching students how to bend and breathe during each 90-minute class.
These classes are held in a studio heated to around 105 degrees. But newcomers to the practice needn't worry—as the space's website says, "The heat is not there to make it tough, it is there to help." As participants move through the 26 asanas, or postures, of Bikram yoga, the heat loosens up their muscles and encourages a detoxifying sweat, allowing for deeper stretches and a smoother post-workout slip-and-slide ride. Rebecca, Lisa, and their fellow instructors limit their class sizes to better personalize their guidance, and welcome guests of all skill levels to attend any session.
At Yoga on Fremont, confidence and self-knowledge spring from ancient poses and breathing exercises. Encouraging instructors explore the yogic spectrum through several different disciplines, including gentle, relaxing yoga nidra and sweaty, athletic hot power yoga. Each instructor draws upon at least 200 hours of teacher training, helping beginners build a foundation as sturdy as a cast-iron exoskeleton.
From time to time, the studio hosts workshops that cater to the needs of kids, families, and cancer survivors. A rousing hula-hoop workshop pairs yoga’s bends and balances with gyrations that help slim and strengthen the core.