21 years ago, Ellie Herman worked as a professional dancer and choreographer, running her own company in San Francisco. She loved her work, but she had bills to pay. So, naturally, she took on a side job; she became the professional wrestler known as "Ruth Less." As soon as she began tossing fellow wrestlers around, she incurred a serious knee injury that threatened to end both of her careers. Luckily for her, the nearby St. Francis Hospital of Dance Medicine offered surgery-free rehabilitation through Pilates. Ellie did the workouts for months, and returned to her company an even better dancer than she'd been before her injuries. Later, as a masters student at NYU, Pilates once again helped her recover from hip pain. She discovered an ability to innovate within the bounds of Pilates, and resolved to become a teacher.
She opened the aptly named Ellie Herman Studio, where she continues to teach today. True to her inspiration, she uses Pilates as a basis on which to innovate better forms of corrective movement. So far, she's written nine books on the subject. She invented her own piece of equipment, the Pilates Springboard, which compresses the size and cost of the more traditional Pilates wall unit. She also developed a blend of Pilates and gait training, to help people stave of injury by becoming conscious of the way they move their legs in every day life, which helps to prevent things such as rolling ankles or randomly kicking strangers.
Change can be terrifying, but at The Exercise Studio, owner Millie Miraglia and her team of seven instructors help students of all levels face their fears as they transform their bodies with classes that combine the principles of yoga with effective cardio workouts. The Brooklyn-based studio, with a classroom on each of its two floors, has been opened for almost three decades and offers women-only Zumba and fitness sessions?including total-body workouts and body toning?and Hatha and Vinyasa-style yoga classes are open to both women and men. Offering small classes with one-on-one instruction, the Exercise Studio even goes one step further to ensure students learn how to lead healthy lives by providing regular workshops and courses that have included classes on restorative yoga and how to balance one's chakra using just a paper clip and a stick of gum.
As a cancer survivor, Millie knows firsthand how negative emotions can impact the healing process, which is why she created The Exercise Studio's Pathways to Healing. The noninvasive stress-management program is designed to help clients bring balance back to their mind and body by using a blend of restorative yoga, meditation, and reiki modalities.
At New Body Bootcamp & Wellness, personal trainer Aja Davis hopes to inspire two types of change in her clients. The first is visible: a fitter, slimmer physique resulting from her signature interval workouts. The second is philosophical: a lifelong awareness of how to preserve and pursue health. This model of "lifestyle implementation" encompasses nutrition as well as exercise while avoiding temporary fixes, such as fad diets and foam muscle suits. Instead, Aja's program uses challenging and varied routines, the motivational power of teamwork, and individual attention from a fitness expert.
At one-hour boot-camp classes, Aja leads groups through cardio and resistance maneuvers that employ stretchable bands, kettlebells, and TRX suspension cords. The routine has won the title of Best Post-Holiday Rescue in GO magazine, which also lists New Body Bootcamp & Wellness as one of its three favorite fitness venues. Aja aims to spark camaraderie as much as she does weight loss and toning—using partner drills to prompt campers to rely on one another—and even outside of class, patrons can run local races as part of the New Body team or tag-team wrestle the local mall Santa.
The Gowanus Print Lab is a community screen printing studio established in October of 2010 in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn. Their goal is to create a nurturing artist community by providing exhibition space for emerging artists, affordable access to tools and a workspace, and education through design and screenprinting labs.
In the screenprinting labs, the teachers demonstrate how to make single- and multi-color prints before helping students customize T-shirts, totes, and even shoes with personal designs. Sometime they have group exhibitions and additional art classes. In the nearby Mac computer lab, they help students master complex software ranging from Photoshop to the sound-editing program Pro Tools.
Sometimes, the staff tailors their programs to youths with interactive summer workshops, or caters to a more adult crowd with monotype sessions featuring live models and beer. A week-long DIY wedding workshop even helps betrothed couples create all the paper goods for their big day. For the truly dedicated artist, they offer memberships with unlimited facilities access and private studio and individual equipment rentals.
Thinking of the city rarely calls images of fog-ringed mountains and wolf-filled forests to mind, but Discover Outdoors?formerly known as Outdoor Bound?turns these scenes into reality. Owner, avid outdoorsman, and eight-time marathon runner Kirk Reynolds makes sure of it. He and a staff of experts?each a licensed trail guide and Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT?temper the stress of city living with day trips to nearby natural enclaves and weekend camping excursions. The getaways thrill with activities such as hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding.
International trips, meanwhile, quench a thirst for life-defining adventures beyond trips to the grocery store during peak Saturday hours. Among them: hikes up famed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, treks to Machu Picchu in Peru, and jaunts through the Canadian Rockies. Some of the journeys even grant travelers the opportunity to fundraise for a worthy cause as they explore.
Spotlighted in Time magazine and the New York Times, Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals is a nationally renowned program offering a unique take on musical education for children 3 months to 4 years old. Classes consist of 45 minutes of singing, dancing, musical storytelling, and jamming. Children's songsmith David Weinstone designed a curriculum celebrating the urban environment as well as universal concerns of youth via his classes, which have exploded into the national spotlight since their humble beginnings in 1997. Rather than being strict and results-driven, the teaching style at Music for Aardvarks is based on adult modeling and exposing children to ideas and sounds without dumbing them down. Parent participation is strongly encouraged for atonal squealers and former Yes drummers alike. Check the Music for Aardvarks website for the drop-in sessions and 10-class series schedules.