DC Dance Collective is on a mission: to open the world of dance to everyone. And it takes that seriously—low-income dancers are encouraged to volunteer at the front desk in exchange for class credits. This communal spirit of creative exercise and collaboration realizes the dream of founder Nancy Newell, whose impressive 49-year dance career includes curating two Smithsonian series based on tap.
Dance Studio Life rightly describes DCDC as "an anomaly among studios in its region for both its collective approach and its vast offerings." In the lobby, which "feels more like a living room," the friendly instructors welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to pick from an eclectic assortment of dance styles, ranging from classics such as tap, ballet, and jazz to diverse styles such as hula, salsa, flamenco, belly dance, and Sri Lankan dance. Hip-hop and break-dancing classes help dancers find their inner funk without GPS, and Zumba fitness dance classes get everyone sweating to global party beats with Latin-inspired moves.
"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee, "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere." To make this challenging, yet hopeful philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cool-down exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance. Dahn Yoga is also taught at independently owned and operated franchises called Body & Brain Yoga.
A team of friendly gurus runs each club. Fitness buffs of all buffness levels feel welcome in the fun and accommodating atmosphere at Washington Sports Clubs. During your two weeks, you get access to all the professional equipment, group exercise classes, locker rooms, and facility amenities offered (some group exercise classes require a reservation). Different clubs have on-site features such as pools, Pilates and yoga, babysitting services for a tag-along papoose, electricity, and more. Search for the club that suits your checklist here.
LA Boxing’s fight-centric gyms ditch the polished look of wood-floored workout studios for gritty, competitive spaces filled with 150-pound punching bags and intense workouts. Like a baker molding gingerbread men, LA Boxing sculpts six-packs with boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts classes. Although instructors and students agree that the gym’s atmosphere may enkindle intimidation in first-time attendees, most experience boosted self-confidence after conquering their first class. Private training sessions further stoke courage with workouts that leave patrons with the exhilaration of having survived 12 rounds in the ring or five minutes in a high-school lunchroom.
Since 1976 Joy of Motion Dance Center, a nonprofit arts organization, has strapped on its ballet flats to kick down the doors that traditionally bar people from learning dance. Since then, it’s won two Mayor’s Arts Awards, one for Excellence in Service to the Arts, and the other for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education. In 10 studio spaces across three different locations, instructors teach adult and youth programs, and lead an outreach initiative that gives disadvantaged kids the chance to learn dance with free classes or merit-based scholarships. Additionally, the center holds performances and showcases where students and patrons get a taste of professional performance without having to become zombies.
Pure Om Fairfax, formerly known as Bikram Yoga Fairfax, sports an earthly orange palette, state of the art yoga studio, and bright, natural lighting that provide a cool counterpoint to the heated intensity of its Bikram yoga classes. Though rigorous with its balmy heat and strict 26-posture series, the 90-minute classes are open to students of all experience levels and are taught by a team of Bikram–certified instructors. The 4,700-square-foot facility boasts not just an expansive practice space outfitted with medical-grade linoleum flooring and a natural-gas-fired heating system but also shower and locker-room amenities that make changing back into street clothes comfortable and efficient.