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 4 months old–12 years old 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.
No Excuse Workout is a full-service health and fitness club that provides a motivating and friendly gym atmosphere, as well as up-to-date equipment and classes. At this functional space, gym-goers can run on treadmills, climb up Stair Masters, and lift free weights before punching away stress at the onsite boxing ring. Five personal trainers help clients get customized and tangible results, and there's plenty of free group classes taught in the studio. The teachers help students dance away calories in upbeat Zumba classes, or try circuit training or yoga—there's even a belly dancing class. The gym further demonstrates its ability to accommodate diverse guests with a relaxing onsite sauna, plenty of resistance-training equipment and tanning beds, and a pro shop. Here, patrons can buy exercise equipment and nutritional supplements—which, if bought in large enough quantities, can be lifted just like dumbbells for strength training.
Sometimes it takes more than medication to heal. That’s why acupuncturist Linda Wentz founded Holistic Touch Center and its mission to help hasten the healing process by offering services that extend beyond the body to incorporate the needs of the mind and spirit. There, Silvy Franco, the center's holistic esthetician, blends years of skin care experience with training in natural health and energy medicine to produce treatments that restore the body while rebalancing the mind and spirit. She reads each client's skin like a map, plotting out appropriate treatment courses that are delivered as part of one of the center's rituals, which include components ranging from traditional facials and detoxifying peels to Vitamin C infusions and cold stone massages. In addition to performing these rituals, Silvy also helps clients adapt these treatments for use in at-home skin care regimens, keeping epidermises glowing and well-adjusted to changes in seasonal weather.
Those interested in acupuncture may enlist in Kirsten Jacob, a trained herbalist who received her Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from Han University of Traditional Medicine in Tucson, Az. In addition to specializing in facial-rejuvenation acupuncture treatments, she also possess a background in pediatric respiratory therapy as well as general family treatment. Her specialities include pediatric and family acupuncture, behavioral/learning issues, and stress reduction and internal medicine. Kirsten incorporates classical Chinese botanical therapy into her work, which includes tui na–or Chinese medical/therapeutic massage–cupping, and moxa. When she is not helping her clients attain inner peace through eastern healing techniques, she tends to her kids while indulging in reading, writing, and traveling.
"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee, "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere." To make this challenging, yet hopeful philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cool-down exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance. Dahn Yoga is also taught at independently owned and operated franchises called Body & Brain Yoga.
The Metropolitan School of the Arts—formerly the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center—was founded more than 14 years ago. This multidisciplinary performing-arts organization takes a holistic approach to teaching and encouraging performance-arts skills, creating performance opportunities in dance, music, and theater for a diverse population of students of all ages and abilities. Its students have gone to perform on Broadway, at The Juilliard School, and in highly esteemed companies, such as the Mark Morris Dance Company, The Washington Ballet, and Ford's Theater and Signature Theater. Youth programs include year-round programs in dance, theater, music, music-theater, and acting, as well as a performing-arts program in the summer, all for children as young as 2. Adult classes range from basic to advanced, including ballet, jazz, and tap lessons, plus yoga and ballet-barre fitness workouts.
LA Boxing’s fight-centric gyms ditch the polished look of wood-floored workout studios for gritty, competitive spaces filled with 150-pound punching bags and intense workouts. Like a baker molding gingerbread men, LA Boxing sculpts six-packs with boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts classes. Although instructors and students agree that the gym’s atmosphere may enkindle intimidation in first-time attendees, most experience boosted self-confidence after conquering their first class. Private training sessions further stoke courage with workouts that leave patrons with the exhilaration of having survived 12 rounds in the ring or five minutes in a high-school lunchroom.