Dr. Nicole Bishop's signature Mommy and Me Pilates classes were born the same time as her son, Reza, as a way to connect with him while helping women balance their fitness regimens with their brand new bundles. During the 60-minute Mamilates classes, two instructors?one for mom and one for baby?guide participants through short bursts of challenging Pilates exercises. During these drills, fun activities such as singing, massage, and dance keep growing minds entertained while women bolster their muscles. With regular practice, women may notice a reduction in physical tension around the neck and shoulders, stronger abdominals, sturdy backs, and weightlessness despite carrying 15 sacks of lead. The team strives to achieve these results specifically to aid in the recovery from the strain of carrying a baby or to make common postnatal lifting easier. The staff makes careful modifications for women still recovering from Cesarean sections.
Dr. Bishop earned her PhD in comparative literature at the University of Michigan, an academic track that involved a focus on mindfulness, meditation, and reading methodology. She incorporates these disciplines in her budding practice, along with her specialty in African and Caribbean dance, the spark for which ignited at the ripe old age of 5 years. As a kicker, Dr. Bishop also boasts certification in mat Pilates instruction and the ability to fashion a yoga mat out of a napkin.
When Rick Rugg and Bob Schiffhauer founded the first of their gyms in 1980, they chartered their gym around three values: service, cleanliness, and having owners operate their own facilities. True to the founders' original vision, each location's employees strive to keep their cardio and resistance equipment spic and span as they care for facilities. In addition to personal training, instructors lead a schedule of more than 400 group fitness classes?including cycling, Kardio Kick, and Zumba?offered each week across their eight locations. At the clubs, trainers also help guests master CrossFit functional equipment and use TRX suspension training systems to help them connect with their vine-savvy pet orangutans.
Fitness 19's founders launched their first family-oriented gyms in 2003, hoping to splash the exercising experience with local flavor and familiarity. Life Fitness cardio machines—including treadmills and ellipticals—unite with strength-training machines and free weights to help members to build leaner physiques as certified personal trainers patrol the deep-red-carpeted workout area. The expert staff can also guide clients through yoga, martial arts, and weight loss–centric personal-training sessions. Every location also hosts a kids' room, where youngsters can craft macaroni kettlebells under the supervision of a full-time staff member.
The instructors at Evolation Yoga help their students achieve greater health and centeredness with a unique blend of hot yoga and meditation. Rather than subscribing entirely to the tenets of Bikram yoga, they incorporate other yogic styles for a more fluid approach that’s accessible to all students. To achieve the best results, they lead classes in studios heated to keep the mug of tea balanced on each student’s head piping hot. They also organize regular workshops and events at each of the studio's eight locations throughout the United States, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Australia.
At Pole Play Dance Studio, students flip, twirl, and slide along poles as they learn the cardio-boosting and sensual art of pole dancing. A succession of classes cover topics ranging from stretch techniques and strength training to 1960s-style go-go dancing and incorporating hula hoops. The studio also hosts regular themed workshops and bachelorette parties, in which the bride and her friends learn to perform a group dance on multiple poles in case they're ever bored and stranded in a bamboo forest.
The Pilates Loft's owner, Beth Elkins, is not only a Core Dynamics–certified instructor, but also the creator of her own version of Pilates dubbed the Elkins Method Pilates technique. Between the exposed brick walls of her boutique studio, Beth and her two instructors teach her core-strengthening method to students of all levels during mat and tower equipment classes. By keeping each class in a private, two-person, or small group format, instructors can give one-on-one attention to each student to ensure every stomach curl, leg lift, and arm detachment exercise is performed safely.