The trainers behind Meraki Barre don't just want to help their clients get in shape. They want to make the world an all-around healthier place by leading dynamic fitness classes in a 900-square-foot studio space built with eco-conscious, exercise-encouraging decor from the ground up. Padded and sustainable bamboo floors cushion exercisers during workouts, and energy-efficient LED lights keep the studios bright. Along the walls, 80 feet of ballet barres provide stability, and a 14-foot, multimount TRX installation allows for group classes using the suspension-training equipment.
Seven days a week, the staffers lead total-body training sessions that enhance classic fitness methods such as yoga and barre training with the incorporation of free weights and other strength-developing circuits. Their specialty Pound classes draw on musical inspirations that transform the motions of playing the drums into a series of core, leg, and upper-body conditioning moves. Students wield weighted drumsticks called Ripstix to echo the rhythms of the Poundtrack, a playlist of everything from rock to dubstep broadcast over the professional-grade audio system. As the music plays, the color-controllable LED lights cast club-like hues around the studio to help students get lost in the music or pretend to be a rainbow.
Studio founder Patrice Simon established the Bikram Yoga College of India "to nourish the soul as well as the body," a mission reflected in the studio's noncompetitive environment, highly trained instructors, and deliberately designed practice space. Each of the studio's certified instructors studied Bikram at the feet of the style's eponymous guru Bikram Choudhury, where they learned to master the athletic Bikram style, and to shepherd students of all skill levels through Bikram's 90-minute, unchanging 26-pose regimen. During each of the seated, lying, and standing poses, instructors assist students by supplying modifications to accommodate inexperience, injury, and pregnancy. Every posture methodically pushes oxygen-rich blood throughout the entire body, encouraging healthy organ function and building muscle tone. A pair of mindful breathing exercises helps students maintain focus amid the practice space's sultry temperatures of up to 105 degrees, a sweat-inducing environment that allows attendees to safely push each stretch further while perspiring away any toxins that fail the body's citizenship test.
Guided by a mission of embracing every student's quest for personal growth, the team at YogaWorks offers programs for all ages and walks of life. Harnessing a minimum of 500 hours of Yoga Alliance training, expert instructors build lean muscles with traditional Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Vinyasa flow classes enhanced by inspiring music, ambient candlelight, meditation, and props. Their fitness classes further the body-shaping results of yoga, strengthening core muscles with Pilates, increasing endurance and lean muscles with TRX classes, and building stamina with resistance-based SculptWorks.
Instructors also host exotic yoga retreats, which marry the excitement of travel to far-away locales with the benefits of yoga to bestow students with the confident grace required to approach a foreign yoga mat without startling it. Those in search of further training can access online videos by subscribing to myyogaworks.com, which offers a free, 14-day trial for new users. Students can search for videos by workout duration, skill level, and the targeted area of the body.
Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with an instructor as the teachers assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Sheila Kelly S Factor New York's empowering fitness philosophy encourages women of all ages, shapes, and sizes to celebrate their bodies and express their femininity through invigorating pole-dancing classes. Hollywood actress, classically trained dancer, and S Factor founder Shelia Kelley began her career in sensual fitness while preparing for a movie role which required her to hone striptease and pole-dancing skills. Quickly recognizing the physical and emotional benefits of performing these slinky, strengthening movements, Kelley devised a routine that merged ballet, yoga, and Pilates with her new choreography and set out to share the workout with women across the country. In the process, Kelley and her pole-fitness technique have acquired celebrity students such as Eva Longoria, Amy Adams, and the flagpole outside Grand Central Station, as well as features in People magazine and Time Out New York.
Before yoga was a household activity and people meditated to guard their minds from computers' thought-control beams, Yoga Center of California was already teaching students a rigidly traditional yet relaxed approach to yoga. Within the center—established more than four decades ago—instructors who have all trained for at least five years under internationally renowned guru Ramakrishna Ananda demonstrate time-honored poses and emphasize meditation techniques from each yogic style to help students find the technique that suits them best. These professors of flexibility also guard pupils against strain as they find each group's comfort zone, showing them how to relax a pose and modify positions to match skill levels. In each class, such as Hatha, Chinese, or prenatal yoga, two instructors introduce the philosophy of yoga while training participants in asanas and meditation. Yoga Center of California also teaches children in specialized classes.