When Rick Rugg and Bob Schiffhauer founded the first Buffalo Athletic Club 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 that range from 20,000 to 48,000 square feet. 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 Eastern Hills, Union Road, Downtown, and Boulevard 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. And, at the five-floor downtown facility, guests swim laps in the pool. After workouts, guests can slip into saunas and private showers; most locations also have steam rooms.
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.
Licensed massage therapist and registered yoga teacher Quinn Caya has dedicated his life to sharing his extensive awareness of the dynamic relationship between structure and energy through the practice of yoga, massage, ping pong, and Reiki therapy. The Swedish is the most popular way to improve circulation and erase tension, and the shiatsu is a needle-less way to reap the benefits of Chinese acupuncture by awakening the body's energy meridians. If you’ve been pounding the pavement in preparation for a marathon or enduring rigorous training, recharge with the sports massage, designed to enhance endurance and reduce recovery time. Quinn's widespread knowledge of the human body is projected through his hands during a specialized Reiki therapy session, a form of palm therapy and touch delivered electro-magnetic treatment that transfers healing energy into the patient, and has been known to disorient migrating birds.
Giovanni and Sherry Preziuso, owners of Fierce Fitness, specialize in tailored personal-training sessions but also offer small-group fitness classes designed to condition muscles and shed weight. In addition to functional core and suspension-training classes—classes that employ a system of ropes and webbing to allow the students to work against their own body weight—Fierce Fitness also offers therapeutic massage.
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 90-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.
The instructors at East Meets West Yoga lead classes rooted in Ashtanga and Vinyasa traditions for all skill levels. In addition to the core classes' more vigorous workouts, the instructors also lead meditative yin and gentle yoga classes, which they perform at a slower pace in order to integrate more breath work.
Lauded by Buffalo Spree as the best yoga of Western New York, Shakti Yoga instructor Michelle Gigante teaches students to achieve balance, strength, and flexibility through strategic postures in her revamped 3,000-square foot studio. Specializing in Vinyasa flow, Gigante emphasizes the importance of breathing rhythm and downplays the rumors of yoga's popularity with yetis. Vinyasa synchronizes breathing and stretching postures to create a fluid, continuous yoga experience without resorting to recursive time anomalies. Drop-in style classes are held in a high-ceilinged studio on heated floors at many convenient times throughout the week. Shakti also offers meditation, chanting, dance with live drumming, and live music events.