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.
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.
When Sheila Kelley broke into the fitness scene, fitness pole-dancing classes were unheard of. However, in just a few years, the S Factor—her unique fusion of yoga, ballet, Pilates, and striptease—became renowned for its physical benefits and confidence-boosting ability. Due to this focus on both mind and body, the S Factor garnered widespread acclaim, with endorsements from Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and Martha Stewart. The workout's mission is clear: engendering female empowerment, confidence, and respect through sultry pole dancing. The S Factor's healthful impact on its students' bodies can be attributed to its combination of diverse workout methods, all of which build lean muscle mass. The course's six levels build on one another, relying on stretches, pole work, and traditional dance to get students twirling around the pole safely regardless of their athletic experience.
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.
Filled with radiant heat and eco-friendly furnishings, Ra Yoga's quartet of practice spaces emanates warmth, calm, and a pervasive sense of well-being. Here, a team of instructors leads more than a dozen classes designed to strengthen the body and center the mind. They offer a range of different yoga styles—including restorative Yin, flow-centric Vinyasa, and more rigorous hot yoga flow—with and without added heat meant to foster detoxification and keep out nosey penguins. They also helm Little Ra-Scals classes to help youngsters aged 4 to 13 cultivate concentration, motor skills, and a lifelong love of whimsy during an hour of playful poses.
To melt any remaining stress after class, students may unwind in the studio's showers or socialize in its cozy lounge. Parents may also leave kids aged 6 months to 9 years in the care of an experienced babysitter during most of the studio's midmorning classes.
The instructors of Pole Fitness Xpress distinguish themselves by teaching the V-Fit system, their own brand of pole-dance fitness that integrates the sensuality of Venezuelan rhythms into calorie-burning moves. Hosted at Dance Asylum, classes lead ladies of all fitness levels and dance abilities through floor and pole routines that build strength, endurance, and coordination. Beyond using V-Fit to help women attain more sculpted physiques, instructors strive to leave students feeling better about themselves and more confident in their physical expression.
Pole Fitness Xpress’ dance-based trainers also lead the MommyFit program, which helps new moms get their mojo back in a private, supportive atmosphere. Additionally, the staff coordinates pole-dancing parties to enliven special events such as bachelorette nights and pancake breakfasts.