After spending a few years in the fitness industry at a large health club, Tony Barbanente realized he wanted more. His vision was to lose the retail-store vibe that plagued big gyms, and to instead curate a comfortable atmosphere to encourage members and trainers to focus on just one thing—fitness. His family-owned fitness facility offers members 8,000 square feet of pristinely maintained equipment. Rows of ellipticals, stationary bikes, and treadmills help guests ramp up their endurance in preparation for competitive races or chasing cars, and strength machines and free weights, including kettlebells, bolster muscles. In addition to the choose-your-own-workout route, V-Tone's class schedule includes indoor cycling and 20-minute Buns 'n' Gunz workouts to sculpt glutes and upper bodies. For those seeking individualized attention, trainers customize personal-training sessions to each trainee, seeking to improve their lives through better health and fitness.
Boasting more than 1,000 square feet of hardwood floor space, Imagine opens its studio doors to all levels of yoga practitioners. Within a cleanly styled sanctuary, a team of seven instructors focuses on teaching Vinyasa-flow yoga, incorporating essential breath-synchronized movement into each 60- or 90-minute class. The schedule features 20-plus sessions per week, each welcoming all participants regardless of previous yoga training. Gain flexibility and strengthen cores during a 7:30 a.m. session, and roll your body into a donut instead of eating one, or bask in natural light flooding into the westward windows at a 6:30 p.m. stretching retreat. Bring your calming clothes straight from work and use Imagine's changing-room area or store belongings in the studio's cubbyholes, which have plenty of room for shoes and less for actual bears.
The intensely heated practice space and 26 standing and seated asanas used in Bikram Yoga Andersonville's 90-minute classes may intimidate newcomers at first. However, the instructors enthusiastically welcome yoga practitioners of all ages and fitness levels, helping them progress at a comfortable pace. As attendees learn established sequences of deep stretches, twists, bends, and mindful breathing exercises, they can experience the rejuvenating benefits of having oxygenated blood systematically pushed to muscle groups and organ systems throughout the body. Additionally, the sweat-inducing temperatures help loosen tight joints and ligaments and challenge students to pay closer attention to the connections between their minds and bodies. Practicing these asanas improves strength, stamina, and flexibility over time. Throughout each class, instructors are on hand to demonstrate proper technique, offer support and guidance, and teach you how to give effortless high-fives with your feet.
Inside a series of plain-white, windowed studios, empty except for futons and pillows, the professional therapists at Zen Shiatsu Chicago heal bodies with techniques rooted in millennia-old traditions. At the same time, they pass those techniques on to students in the zen-shiatsu certification school that shares space with the clinic. Teachers and students perform shiatsu therapy, using both hands to manipulate muscles and unblock clients’ energy pathways. They also administer contemporary Western massages to ease tense muscles, whereas acupuncture treatments let out bodies’ excess helium.
In addition to awarding certifications and leading continuing education in massage, naprapathy, physical therapy, and acupuncture, instructors train students outside the classroom through social outreach, exposure to integrative medicine, and visits to local hospitals’ neck-cramp wards.
Before yoga was the household fitness regimen it is today, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center was quietly teaching the ancient practice to members at its Edgewater location. As long ago as 1972, the studio has blended the teachings of Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda, both of whom focused on five key principles of yoga. Proper exercise through asanas, or poses, helps to boost circulation, flexibility, and mental health, and proper breathing fills the practitioner with energy. Proper relaxation is instilled physically, mentally, and spiritually through regular yoga practice, and a vegetarian diet places a focus on the health of both the practitioner and the environment. Finally, positive thinking and mediation help to slay stress through quiet concentration. Students can put the principles to practice through various yoga courses, workshops, and meditation sessions, even volunteering their time at the center or joining in free discussions on the philosophy of yoga.
Amid the thriving Indian marketplace on Devon Avenue sits Santhigram Wellness Kerala Ayuerveda Center, a satellite location of a renowned healing center in India. A mash-up of the Sanskrit words ayur (meaning life and longevity) and veda (science), Ayurveda originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and is still widely practiced today as a side-effect free alternative to modern medicine.
On Devon, patients can find ancient treatments used for both preventive and curative purposes. An herbal steam treatment known as Swedana helps the body release impurities through perspiration. In another treatment, Shirodhara, the practitioner pours a steady stream of warm aromatic oils over the forehead to calm the mind and soothe the nervous system. Though the primary goal of Ayurveda is to restore internal balance, the center offers a variety of holistic and aesthetic treatments as well, including anti-aging packages and hair treatments that reduces hairs' tendencies to turn grey or into a nest of snakes.