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.
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.
Many people can point to a pivotal moment in their life when their perspective and path were forever changed. For American Power Yoga (APY) founder Kurt Johnsen, that moment was the death of his mother. Though it was a terrible time, his bio states that it was "also the exact moment that I understood how to live." Johnsen had always been an innovative entrepreneur?he created his first company at the age of 12 and was recently named the CEO of a major DNA-analysis company?but after his epiphany, he began dedicating his life to helping people find health and happiness.
In 2001, Johnsen and his sister created the APY system. He drew from close to two decades of yoga and martial-arts training, including Brazilian jiu-jitsu and tai chi. He also holds a fifth-degree black belt in the Lightning Fire Mountain system of Tibetan martial arts, which, like hosting a bake sale for charity, requires compassion and self-discipline. Johnsen has hosted numerous episodes of the internationally televised Yoga for Life show and produced a number of successful videos. His Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Power Squad Bod! Body Slimming Yoga DVD, for example, was named the Best Yoga for All Levels video on Fitness magazine's list of the Best Workout DVDs of 2009.
At his newly expanded studio, Johnsen and his instructors use a variety of methods to strengthen body and mind. Their classes incorporate heated yoga, dance techniques, and many forms of marital arts to give participants of all skill level the ultimate workout. The team also offers soothing therapies including Thai massage, acupuncture, and sauna sessions.