A basket greets visitors at the entrance to Soula Grove, inviting them to kick off their shoes before they pad through the door. Inside, up to eight students or two fitness-focused octopodes gather inside a cozy studio space that hosts yoga, Pilates, and meditation sessions for all skill levels. During each type of class, seasoned instructors guide pupils toward greater levels of inner calm and mind-body balance. Traditional Hatha Yoga classes revolve around ancient poses and breathing exercises that strengthen the muscles while centering the mind, and private hatha instruction can focus on alignment of specific poses or larger fitness goals such as toning the limbs and boosting flexibility. Filled with core-sculpting isometrics, Pilates mat classes help make physiques as long and stretchy as a slinky made of string cheese. Many classes conclude with relaxation treatments, which range from soothing eye masks to cool cloths scented with lavender or peppermint.
In its mission to elevate students to another level of physical and mental balance, ReCharge Pilates and Barre doesn't reject its industrial environment. Instead, it embraces it. Featuring exposed brick walls and pipes, bare mahogany floors, and sparse decor, the studio surrounds students with a minimal space lit mostly by giant windows and the fire of a mystical, eternal torch. Here, four classes blend the techniques of Pilates and barre fitness, and occasionally incorporate other exercise styles. Much like these classes, ReCharge's owner, Sloan Rachmuth, draws from several disciplines. The Stott Pilates–certified instructor's passion for wellness has led her to study psychology at Harvard, develop a clinical weight-loss program, and open more than one fitness studio.
As they gaze through floor-to-ceiling windows at the wooded landscape, guests at Triangle Yoga find it easy to believe that they're floating above the treetops. This daydream holds especially true for aerial yoga and dance students—who are indeed floating with the aid of suspended fabric slings—but the studio strives to imbue all of its visitors with that serene feeling of weightlessness, subtracting stress with specialized classes for all ages and abilities.
The studio’s certified instructors hold at least four classes each day, seven days a week, filling the loft-like space with several varieties of Hatha yoga. Their emphasis is on accessibility; aside from leading a long list of beginner's and advanced offerings, they welcome seniors to Yoga Over 50 sessions, pre- and postnatal moms to baby-centric series, and children to playful workshops. With free classes every month and a work-trade program, which exchanges class time for help around the office, they steer around many patrons' financial difficulties.
Though the studio has earned the 2011 Best of Chapel Hill Award in Yoga Instruction from the U.S. Commerce Association, it summons peace in myriad ways besides posing. Certified massage therapist Natalie Sablina imbues all of her kneads with reiki or other energy work, such as aromatherapy scents culled from the dreams of candlemakers. Kirtan call-and-response chanting assemblies collect donations for children in need, and artists sketch renditions of live models during meetings of the woman's art co-op.
It takes a village to build a healthy lifestyle at the Chapel Hill–Carrboro YMCA. Fitness and friendship intertwine as positive staffers infuse the community with values such as generosity and perseverance. Teamwork fuels group sports such as soccer and baseball and more than 40 weekly exercise classes, which range from yoga to cycling to Zumba. Solo exercisers can flutter toward physical fitness in a 25-yard pool or chase it down on a host of cardio machines. In addition to building strong bodies, the facility fortifies spirits with fun-filled programs such as youth summer camps and parent retreats. Memberships come with several complimentary perks, including childcare, fitness orientations, and short-term access to other YMCA branches, and a free iPhone app shares updates about class schedules and flying-saucer landings.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing With the Stars multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily participants won't need her dance moves to get the most out of each class. Those prone to first-class jitters, though, can review the basic moves online before attending. Expect to burn off up to 500 calories with each go-round.
The all-female clientele at Women's Only Workout sweats in solidarity during more than 15 types of fitness classes or individual workouts in the fully equipped gym. Members get 24-hour access to exercise machines, free weights, and gym facilities, as well as personal training, boot camp, or group fitness classes.
Nationally certified instructors push physiques through Pilates maneuvers atop floor mats, building core strength more effectively than a reinforced-concrete jerkin. Pedals whiz as legs strive to crest hills during spin sessions, and Zumba's Latin-infused dance steps shimmy off calories with a sassy cardio workout. In the candlelit yoga class, students arch into limb-lengthening tableaus to ramp up flexibility and cast more complicated shadow animals onto softly glowing walls. Other classes include step, total-body conditioning, and Nia—an adaptable variant of nonimpact aerobics that melds martial arts, dance, and yoga.