Sue Hopkins doesn't teach yoga for fitness—after adapting the art to combat her back pain and completing several training programs to become a Professional Yoga Therapist, she champions its wellness benefits. Alongside the devoted instructors at Etowah Valley Yoga & Yoga, Etc., she strives to demonstrate how regular practice can adapt to and counteract various health concerns from joint pain to anxiety. In the interest of personalization, the staff keeps their classes small. The teachers at the original Etowah Valley Yoga venue might lead the prolonged holds of Yin yoga, the inversions of Level II yoga, or the whisper-soft self-hugs of gentle yoga. At Yoga, Etc., teachers focus on safety and accessibility for clients of all backgrounds. Seated tai chi and chair-yoga classes provide ample support for soothing poses, while "Don't Fall" seminars cover tips for enhanced balance and everyday movement. As the head of a registered yoga school, Sue also enables her students to earn their 200- or 500-hour teaching certifications.
Many of the instructors at Strong Tower Pilates Studio can personally attest to the physical benefits of Pilates. Two teachers credit the program with relieving their chronic back pains, and owner Kelly Letalien claims the exercise form helped her cope and stay in shape throughout her pregnancy and subsequent recovery. As a registered nurse and rehabilitative specialist, Letalien has also tutored Pilates clients with scoliosis, fibromyalgia, and hip replacements, adjusting her lessons to accommodate, and ultimately help diminish, each guest's condition.
The staff welcomes beginners and accomplished athletes alike to their private and small-group sessions, where they work aboard mats or apparatuses, such as the Reformer, Wunda Chair, and Ladder Barrel. During certain stretches, they distribute props, including foam rollers and wobble disks, which help clients more easily perform moves and prepare for when evolution finally bestows the human race with wheels. By limiting their largest classes to a maximum of eight students, they can modify their workouts according to each visitor's fitness level and give them more focused attention. Between meetings, they strive to cultivate both a clean and welcoming studio atmosphere, scrubbing the equipment with a tea-tree-oil solution and warming tummies with complimentary coffee, tea, or cider.
Rev. Othene has earned Yoga Alliance's highest credential for a registered yoga teacher: the E-RYT 500 designation. Othene shares her knowledge at her yoga studio, The Center for Yoga, which has serviced Woodstock and it surrounding yogis for over 17 years. As the center's owner and senior teacher, Othene brings 33 years of personal practice experience to her classes as well as certifications in the traditions of hatha yoga and Vinyasa flow. Her teaching style caters to both beginner and advanced students, whether they are exploring workshops, inquiring about teaching training programs, or joining her on an international yoga trip.
Othene's center also holds the distinction of being a certified Yoga Training School (RYS). Each week, she and her staff host yoga classes for both kids and adults. She and her team also schedule a variety of events, such as astrology workshops, meditation, mediation for recovery, women's only meetings, and book clubs.
Perhaps his degree in physics from Georgia Tech or his longtime stint as a partner in an engineering firm prepped Jeff Sousa to understand the improbable poses that yoga demands. Before starting Ember Yoga, he knew that he wanted to take possession of his own physical health, and so he left his engineering days behind and became a full-time yoga teacher. He opened Ember Yoga as a venue for others to discover their own passion for yoga.
Now, 16 other passionate yoga teachers—including former basketball players and professional cyclists—aid Jeff in teaching 16 unique yoga classes. Along with the hot-yoga courses, including Vinyasa, the team leads diverse groups through sessions intended for children, and practitioners intent on mediation. This panoply of offerings recently won the Woodstock-Towne Lake Patch Readers' Choice Award for Best Gym. The 4,400-square-foot studio features four distinct areas, including a hardwood hot-yoga studio, locker rooms with onsite showers, and a boutique full of yoga equipment and apparel.
Absolute Pilates’s instructors are far from old-school. Though they each boast extensive training in traditional Pilates—and teach classic mat classes—they focus largely on incorporating modern equipment into the ancient practice. Pilates Reformers, Towers, chairs, and even the barre are used during classes, often in combination with each other to optimize workouts and results. The equipment helps students of all levels maintain their balance and target dormant muscles, transforming standard Pilates into a more effective workout. But teachers still maintain the welcoming, personal environment long attributed to Pilates studios and grandma’s doomsday bunker.
Glowing neon-red-and-blue wall accents complement the staff members' bright attitudes at American Bodyworks gyms. They strive to make connections with each member, remembering their names and favorite prime numbers, as they guide them through rows of cardio equipment—each with an attached LCD TV screen—and strength-training machines affixed with illustrations on their use. Guests can work out in the daytime hours or swipe their membership key for nighttime access, pushing through free-weight reps while personal trainers sleep inside their resistance-band cocoons.