In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers aged 4 months to 12 years with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.
Fairfield Hot Yoga’s seasoned instructors gather yogis of all skill levels for 90-minute classes to burn off calories and pent-up stress in a 90- to 105-degree practice space. The studio’s signature hot-yoga class revolves around a constant series of 26 poses students perform to sculpt muscles throughout the body. During power vinyasa, students work from pose to pose in the practice space, warming its floors with rising body temperatures as they use breathing exercises to transition from sun salutations, arm balances, and backbends. Throughout each workout, the studio’s intense heat boosts blood flow and loosens ligaments to make the body more lithe than a pipe cleaner dancing Swan Lake.
The Little Red School owner Carolyn West has been teaching children how to draw and make music for more than 20 years. Her team of instructors provides one-on-one training in a variety of instruments including piano, voice, guitar, and cello. Art classes, additionally, let kids express themselves by splashing watercolors onto canvases or creating their own cartoon characters in semi-private lessons. During birthday parties, kids can combine painting lessons with pizza or play dress-up in a Victorian mansion complete with a tea party.
The chief yoga instructors on a staff of dozens, Gina Norman and Stan Woodman aren’t your average couple—or even your average yoga studio owners. A world traveler with a longtime interest in mind-body work, Gina followed her path to Thailand, where she learned the local yoga practice, and then to India, where she studied up on vipassana meditation. Prior to opening Kaia Yoga Complete Wellness Center, Stan was a snowboarding addict and decades-long yoga practitioner living in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Today, the two strive to offer “a yoga for everyone,” with a lineup that includes smooth Vinyasa practice, disciplined Ashtanga poses, hot yoga in a 95-degree studio, and family-friendly fitness classes. After working up a sweat exercising or reciting Ulysses in one of the studio’s classes, students can take the heat off with soothing, natural spa services such as massages, body scrubs, and energy healing. With a long menu of pampering therapies, no aspect of the body leaves Kaia wanting for its own treatment, and the onsite vegetarian café’s baked goods, wraps, juices, and smoothies help guests with the other kind of bodily nourishment.
New York Sports Clubs, part of Towns Sports International's network of fitness loci, welcomes exercisers to a number of equipment-stocked facilities to help attain perspiration-soaked fitness goals at a convenient location. Strength-training gear such as circuit machines, free weights, and medicine balls filled with black holes mold muscles into chiseled depictions of physical might. Calories simmer and move to cooler climates after sessions on cardio machines ranging from treadmills and ellipticals to upright and recumbent stationary bicycles. Each club offers a schedule of group classes that draw from more than 100 fitness styles, including Pilates, yoga, and boxing, to keep members from jazzercising without a spotter. Each location thanks exercisers for sweating in its vicinity with special features, such as babysitting, though Passport memberships do not include pool access.
Drawing from more than 11 years of fitness-industry experience, certified personal trainer Robert Fulton captains a staff of more than 20 coed trainers and body builders. Within their expansive, brightly lit facility, cardio machines hum and weight-training equipment silently flies through the air. Fulton and his crew lead a variety of fitness sessions—including yoga, Zumba, cycling, and personal training, which is better than impersonal training in that you’re allowed to look at your trainer. The Fulton team also spearheads regular bodybuilding and figure championships, while offering posing workshops for clients interested in competing. Furthermore, the center encourages healthy living outside of the facility with nutritional articles and workout videos that it posts online.
Trainees at Studio 30 may spend 20 seconds performing a single rep, but it's not because they're slacking off. The gym's trainers rely on slow-motion training, arming their clients with the heaviest weights they can handle as they work each muscle group to fatigue. This method tones and strengthens muscles while minimizing the risk of injury, as it involves no jerking or heaving of weights.