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.
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.
Harnessing a minimum of 500 hours of Yoga Alliance training, YogaWorks's expert instructors build lean muscles with traditional Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Vinyasa flows 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.
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.
At the end of a fruitful career that led her from the Cincinnati Ballet to the Sacramento Ballet, Jennifer Williams funneled her dance savvy into creating the barre-inspired exercise system taught at Pop Physique, a 2013 CityVoter finalist for Best Gym. Her fleet of handpicked and personally trained instructors pairs graceful ballet moves with other low-impact exercises in order to chisel cores without injuring muscles. Deep stretches further preserve tendons and leave each student more relaxed than a tortoise moseying past a state patrolman with a radar gun. Sessions run multiple times a day, seven days a week at an expanding network of SoCal locations. The roomy studios are lined with sprung dance floors and design accents that lend each location a distinct personality and a chance to forget its past as a storage room for defective food processors.
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