Charla Okewole's lifelong dedication to yoga ignited in one of the most unusual places—a Manhattan conference room. Since discovering asanas against the Big Apple skyline as part of a corporate wellness campaign in 2002, she's studied beneath several yoga and Thai yoga massage experts, including the creator of Yoga Babies, Gail Silver. Charla, a busy mother herself, infuses the unflagging energy of children into her practice, filling sessions with encouragement, laughter, and fun.
She leads a diverse team of instructors who help students of all abilities and experience levels awaken their inner spirits and sing lullabies to their inner demons during Power Yoga classes heavily influenced by the Baptiste tradition. Instead of expecting students to defy their bodily limitations, instructors blend aspects of Ashtanga, Iyengar, and Bikram yoga to create custom classes that are both challenging and uplifting. The studio's diverse lineup unsurprisingly includes children's classes, yoga integrated with dance and martial arts, and restorative yin yoga.
Become Yoga's instructors spread the good word beyond the walls and alligator-filled moats of their own yoga studio. They hold weekly community classes, the proceeds of which support local and international charities, including The Africa Yoga Project.
At American Fighter MMA Academy, instructors integrate modern fighting philosophies while abiding by the ancient bushido code of the samurai. Training students aged 4 and up, instructors specialize in the teaching of ryukyu kempo pressure-point self-defense and Brazilian jiu-jitsu submission. Classes help mold and hone balance, hand-eye coordination, focus, and self-control in students and teach trainees to count to 10 in Japanese and dream in Bruce Lee fight montages. Cardio-heavy Les Mills BODYCOMBAT classes aim to get hearts racing all while toning muscle and improving self-confidence.
Julie Berger's memories are saturated with images of dancers— teachers who inspired her, students she worked with, and professionals she revered. Entranced by the beautiful and transformative art form, Julie practiced dance throughout her life, attending intensive dance programs, performing in competitions, and teaching at local dance centers. Julie discovered salsa dancing while studying in England, and she instantly fell in love with its sultry movements and lively steps. Determined to share the newfound style with others, Julie founded her own salsa-dancing studio.
At Salsa in the Suburbs Dance Studio, Julie and her staff of passionate dancers lead classes in a variety of styles, including salsa, ballroom, and belly dance. The instructors work with students of all levels, helping them master form, technique, and rhythms. The teachers also offer children's classes in ballet, tap, and Zumba, ideal for youngsters trying to be more active or hoping to include a lively dance section in their next chemistry presentation.
Long before she founded The Pilates Connexion, Jeanna Vanni fell in love with Pilates through her practice as a strength and conditioning specialist. The women who would one day compose her staff, meanwhile, developed a passion for the fitness medium through dance and injury rehabilitation. Their different experiences speak not only to the wide-ranging applications of Pilates, but also to the eclectic backgrounds that feed into their teaching styles in the studio.
At The Pilates Connexion, they work with clients to personalize each program,, building core strength and long, lean muscles. This occurs in group Pilates mat classes, where students use their own body weight as resistance, or sessions on the reformer and low chair, where they work against the power of springs. Private classes use Pilates to help with injury rehabilitation, pre- and post-natal fitness, athletic conditioning, and any number of other goals.
Bally enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day membership includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, and Step Fitness (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts an array of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.
Southern Chester County Adventure Boot Camp is captained by Phil Nicolaou—a certified trainer with a PhD in fitness training and more than 10 years of experience under his belt. Phil leads classes at parks and outdoor locations across town, guiding students of all athletic abilities through challenging routines designed to slim physiques and tone muscles. Phil varies the workouts each session, shifting from kickboxing and jumping rope on one day to obstacle courses and sports drills the next. He also provides his students with nutritional counseling, as well as pre- and post-camp physical assessments.