When Karen and David first met at the Bikram College of India in Los Angeles, they could barely believe that they had grown up within spitting distance of one another in their hometown of Houston, Texas. Through their intense nine-week, 500 hours of training, they grew closer, swapping stories about the unfulfilling corporate lives they had left behind. It wasn't until David returned to Texas and Karen to Portland that they realized they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. After Karen returned to her home state to be with David, the pair embarked on the biggest adventure of their lives: scouring the earth for scissors big enough to cut the grand-opening ribbon to Bikram Yoga Dallas in tandem.
The duo outfitted their spacious 2,300-square-foot sanctuary with soft, eco-friendly flooring and gigantic windows that flood the heated studio with sunlight. They corralled a troupe of passionate, Bikram-certified instructors to help lead the 90-minute classes that strengthen students with 26 postures. To keep the space community-oriented, Karen and David offer special events such as new student orientations, posture workshops, yoga challenges and celebration parties.
Where there is human life, there is dance. At United Dance Academy, the instructors take an anthropological approach to their adult and children's dance classes by teaching styles from all over the globe. The instructors lead international styles such as the Brazilian samba and African dance, imparting their worldly skills to adults of all ability levels. In addition to perfecting their technique, students can enhance their endurance and ability to bench press a salsa partner in fitness-driven classes such as barre and Latin-based Zumba classes.
Kids age 3 and older can begin their dance voyages with classical styles such as ballet and jazz, or more contemporary styles such as hip-hop. The staff also lends their talents to parties and private events with Bollywood or belly-dance performances, and conduct personal Zumba and Brazilian samba lessons.
The playing field is level and accented in aqua at LOA Fitness for Women, where health is a community endeavor. The gym houses special strength-training equipment with 5-pound pin-adjusted weights that, by virtue of being lighter, prevent injury and foster healthy muscle development. On-site babysitting services and an all-female crew of personal trainers similarly break down physical, practical, and emotional barriers to women's well-being. Eleven types of group movement classes, including Zumba and Pilates, re-enforce the feeling of sweat-bonded camaraderie that permeates the ranks of treadmills and bikes, and nutrition counselors equip women with the skills to make healthy choices at home.
LOA Fitness also offers team training, which incorporate equipment such as kettle bells, balls, and sandbags, and group fitness classes, which include kickboxing, yoga-lates, Zumba, and much more. During automated spa treatments, women step into tranquil chambers that rejuvenate muscles and skin.
The Jenny Craig Program provides people with nutritious, heart-healthy foods, a personal consultant, and a plan specially tailored to helping them attain their desired weight. Clients meet with a Jenny Craig consultant to assess their current eating habits and to create a scheme for shedding superfluous pounds. Then, the week-one planned menu unfolds like a paper airplane made of phyllo dough (items in blue are included in the plan, and orange items are recommended additions). A sample day starts with the Breakfast Scramble, a mound of scrambled egg whites and turkey ham topped with melty low-fat mozzarella and served over diced red potatoes. Lunch is beef chow mein, which is packed with vegetables (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and rooglebetas) and remains unpacked with calories (it has only 220). Dinner brings the comfort of macaroni and cheese and tops it off with a cookie for dessert.
Like the branches of a tree, Namah Shivaya Yoga’s teachers never stray too far from their roots. It just so happens that their roots lay half a world away, in the traditional Indian yoga practices outlined in the ancient Hatha Yoga Pradipika text. As prescribed therein, they teach a diverse blend of styles that focus on energizing and strengthening the body and soothing the mind. They help exercisers break a healthy sweat with hatha and vinyasa yoga techniques, and occasionally incorporate props, such as straps and blocks, to help with poses. The instructors also practice Yin and restorative yoga, which mix breathing exercises with meditation to cleanse the mind of toxic thoughts.
For those who wish to make a livelihood of practicing yoga, the studio offers 200- and 500-hour teaching certificate programs. The courses range from a four-week intensive to a three-year ongoing program. Each curriculum is registered with and approved by the Yoga Alliance, a council of practitioners who uphold the discipline’s integrity and occasionally combine their powers to summon Captain Yoga.