Fitness industry veteran Dulcinea Lee Hellings's goal is to bring a high-quality, effective exercise regimen to people who don't love big gyms or can't afford personal trainers. In 2004, she realized that mornings could be used for more than hitting the snooze button over and over for two hours, and founded Boot Camp "Morning Crunch!" to help fledgling exercisers whip into shape.
She designs her all-levels programs to be scream-free morning motivators⎯the first stop in her patrons' journey of daily accomplishments. The fast-paced, ever-changing circuit of strength and cardio exercises keeps bodies guessing and minds from becoming bored. Each of the boot camp's 12 outdoor locations has a different dedicated trainer who gets to know each student personally, remembering their names and memorizing any interesting freckle patterns. They complement their morning routines with a smattering of evening options for those who prefer to work out after the day's activities.
Founder and CEO Allison Beardsley's passion for Pilates sparked after struggling to find exercise that would not aggravate her basketball-related ailments. The discovery that the efficient resistance moves helped her to develop a strong core without subjecting her joints to pain inspired her to spread the word of Pilates's benefits to others, which she does from thirteen clean and sunny Club Pilates?studio locations. A team of certified instructors teaches the group classes, which are designed to strengthen, tighten, and tone the entire body. The staff leads students through controlled movements and breathing techniques performed on specialized Pilates machines, such as the Reformer, a Pilates ballet barre, and retired kitchen chairs. To ensure each patron can craft a well-rounded workout regimen that suits his or her needs, the studios offer stretching and sculpting classes that touch upon a variety of fitness modalities.
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As strobe lights slice across the stage, masked dancers descend from scaffolding and undulate to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance.” Minutes later, a troupe of 6-year-olds takes to the same stage in traditional Indian shalwar, or loose trousers, and launch into a frenetic dance set to fast-paced bhangra music. These divergent routines—performed at Mona Khan Company’s student showcase—hint at the scope of dance styles that instructors bring to their classes. Though traditional folk and classical South Asian dance make an appearance, instructors also incorporate styles such as salsa, modern, and hip-hop.
This Bollywood dance philosophy has propelled Mona Khan Company into the national spotlight. The company’s professional dance troupe has performed with Bollywood demigod Shah Rukh Khan and dancer Shaan, and dazzled a live audience on America’s Got Talent.
Though classes at Mona Khan Company occasionally lead to professional dance careers, the studio strives to make Bollywood dance accessible to every aspiring dancer. For example, Jollywood dance classes train performers age 65 and older, and the Jeena program trains special-needs students. “It’s more than just dance,” says Ms. Shankar, the company’s dance captain. “We try to build a whole community around it."
The staccato beat of conga drums rises over the deep voice of a bass guitar and the higher trills of the timbales and piano. Head dancer Evan Margolin and his bevy of experienced instructors lead students in classes that take beginners through basic footwork and salsa rhythms, with intermediate and advanced sessions offering salsa aficionados more challenging instruction. The social class structure—partners rotate throughout every session—creates a low-pressure learning environment and keeps dancers from scrambling to locate a partner or human-shaped tupperware container. The one-hour beginner classes are mostly filled with salsa novices and new dancers, and Dance SF's experienced and engaging local salsateers are patient and friendly when showing new students how to bust well-timed moves. During intermediate classes, which require six months or more of social dancing experience, students focus on timing and cross-body leads with turns. After some evening classes, new dancers are invited to join an all-night salsa party where they can put their new moves in practice. Students should wear comfortable clothing, which includes dancing shoes, but does not include rear-flapped onesie pajamas.
An authorized Yamaha Music School, Valley Music Center's instructors illuminate students young and old—from beginners to highly advanced players. Drawing upon methods developed in Japan more than 50 years ago, Valley Music Center's teachers employ a curriculum that combines ear training with singing, playing, reading, and creating music. With this multifaceted approach to music, they strive to teach students of all ages not only how to play piano, guitar, flute, clarinet, or French horn but also how to cultivate a genuine love for what they’re playing. In addition to offering private lessons, they helm group lessons where students can learn from their peers. Students then have the opportunity to showcase their newfound skills during friendly recitals or settle disputes using the age-old method of pianos at dawn.