Laura Monahan comes from an artistic family, and spent her youth practicing sculpture, oil painting, pottery, and what turned out to be her ultimate passion: photography. Her ability to preserve candid moments has left an indelible impression?she has a published portfolio on three continents and product lines appearing at national retailers such as Hallmark and JCPenney. Laura?s photo shoots always take place outdoors, capturing newborns, older kids, and families in soft, natural lighting and poses that never appear unnatural. Her settings span the country from San Diego?s foamy beaches to Denver?s red-rock sunsets and into the Midwest?s autumn leaves, and she holds mom's night out events all over the country, including in Honolulu, San Diego, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Denver.
With a special focus on beginner musicians, Riff Factory instructs eighth-note-hungry students on melodious matters through private lessons. Most of Riff Factory's savvy instructors have either collegiate musical education or experience performing in professional treble-clef-minded bands. Rental instruments are included in each lesson, allowing students to save their own cherished noisemakers for crowd-pleasing ukulele smashing.
While teaching jazz dance in the 1960s, Judi Sheppard Missett decided to step away from tradition by offering an experimental class that allowed her students to simply dance without the judgment of mirrors or the constraints of rigid technique. In these sessions, she began infusing popular dance moves with specific fitness workouts to forge a distinctive blend of cardio exercise, strength training, and dance instruction. Little did she know that this “just for fun” class was the prototype for what would become the national fitness sensation known as Jazzercise.
Today, Jazzercise takes its aerobic techniques from a variety of sources that include jazz dance, hip-hop, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and kickboxing. The class formats, which vary according to different toning goals, are just as diverse as the program's move set. Two-time Dancing with the Stars champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of the improvisational routines, although her advanced skills aren't needed to get the most out of classes. Instructors cultivate a noncompetitive atmosphere where all exercisers—with the exception of those marked as cursed by jazz-hand palm readers—are welcome regardless of age, build, or fitness background.
The trainers at Art of Strength eschew newfangled machines. Instead, they employ only fitness tools that have stood the test of time: weight balls, ropes, logs, sandbags, and boxes. Ropes use the weight of the human body to build strength, and the relentless swing of kettlebells works the body as a whole and torches calories. Weights clatter beneath hanging rings and inspirational quotes chalked on the walls. Bass thuds and happy grunts fill the studio as patrons flip truck tires or leap onto boxes. The old-school equipment forms the core of classes, which leave patrons as strong as ancient warriors or the guys who had to push ancient warriors’ strollers.
The Pilates Advantage's obsidian-sculpted staff tends to individual physical needs with routines designed to boost strength, flexibility, and endurance. Using props, such as foam rollers and stability balls, as well as gentle guidance from a team of fitness gurus, a schedule of classes tops out at six students per instructor for individualized attention, support, and a forum for demonstrating shirt-ripping muscle flexes. Those looking for a solid core workout can build a mighty midsection and shape lean muscles with Pilates mat classes, and fitness fanatics in the gyrokinesis sessions can focus on spiraling exercises that increase bodily circulation and promote proper spine and joint alignment. Meanwhile barre buffs can join either floor-barre or stretch-and-barre classes to tone their arms, hips, thighs, and back while relieving physical ailments of arthritis and alien-hand syndrome with ballet-inspired stretch moves.
In boxing, the shoeshine combo uses 10 rapid-fire punches to disorient opponents. The move is often hard to execute, as its success relies almost entirely on sheer speed. Since it opened its first gym in 2006 in Kansas, Title Boxing Club has grown with the speed and fervor of a shoeshine combo. Today, there are more than 100 locations throughout the US, and part-owners Danny Campbell (a former pro boxer) and Tony Carbajo (of Title Boxing Company Equipment) bring firsthand experience to the fitness chain.
Each non-contact, non-fighting gym is stocked with Title Boxing Company heavy punching bags and gear that students are welcome to use free of charge during classes. The boxing and kickboxing classes teach men and women the fundamentals while helping them get in shape.