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At Good Vibration Yoga, a nurturing community of yogis learn to watch closely and see the world change in small increments, from trees sprouting new leaves to fellow students touching their toes for the first time. Here, seasoned instructors help their charges recognize these markers of progress, and celebrate them with movement and laughter. During Yoga From the Ground Up sessions, beginners learn to align their bodies into basic yogic poses and stretches. Ashtanga-yoga pupils summon sweat and build strength with athletic poses, while Yoga Flow students’ deep, focused breaths help them concentrate as they move from pose to pose with balance testing movements as graceful as a swan’s curtsy. In addition to hosting group classes, teachers provide one-on-one instruction to help students achieve specific goals, and organize community-building activities such as drumming workshops and movie nights. The warm scent of complimentary tea lures visitors into the studio’s boutique, where clothing and gifts help cultivate positive change with eco-friendly materials.
Extreme Fitness Boot Camp guides clients toward trimmer frames with a medley of ACE-certified programming and nutritional guidance. The fitness gurus' personalized approach to all-around health begins with assessments, which isolate muscular imbalances and help trainees plot weight-loss goals. Boot-camp and personal-training sessions then lead trainees through plyometrics, core, and bodyweight exercises, plus special guest appearances by hip-hop- and Zumba-inspired steps. At home, clients further fitness excellence by leveraging recorded measurements, supplemental routines, and dietary tips on how to eat well instead of eating tire irons.
Thumping music and flashing, colored lights infuse a spin class at Studio RPM with the energy of a night on the town. The powerful bass can't drown out the instructors' enthusiasm, however. The mic-wearing teachers lead their classes on excursions into unseen landscapes, leaping imaginary gullies and climbing intangible hills, the effort simulated by the Livestrong cycles on which each student is mounted. They welcome students of all ability levels, since the low-impact, cardio-focused exercise lends itself well to those who suffer from joint problems.
Beyond spinning, the staff also teaches regular yoga classes, covering extensive series of asana in each 75-minute course. They delve into Vinyasa, hatha, and warm yoga sequences, focusing on improving agility, increasing flexibility, and revealing snowmen disguised as humans, respectively. For a more high-intensity session, they lead boot camps, which incorporate weight lifting and plyometrics into cardio-heavy routines.
The gym looks like equal parts Olympic training facility and old warehouse—here, exercisers hoist themselves up rows of pull-up bars, grunt around a collection of kettlebells, and hop through jump-rope routines. On a power-lifting platform, a lifter explodes from a squat, hoisting a plate-loaded bar up to his shoulders and then dropping under it to catch the weight over his head. Elsewhere, athletes do dips on gymnast rings and build a sweat on rowing machines.
This low-tech setting is typical of all true CrossFit gyms. Though the equipment may be basic, the results are not: CrossFit workouts develop all measures of physical fitness—from power to cardiovascular endurance—through workouts that are broad, general, and inclusive. This approach is often described as specializing in not specializing: it develops physical fitness in ways equally beneficial to everyone, from professional mixed martial artists and police officers to weekend softball players.
CrossFit gyms typically start clients in a foundational program where trainers teach the basic movements, such as the squat, dead lift, and pull-up. Every exercise is scalable to a version that clients can complete—a pull-up, for example, can be scaled back to a negative pull-up, a static hang, or body-weight row with gymnast rings. It can also be scaled to a more challenging version, such as the kipped pull-up. After students learn CrossFit's basic movements, they move on to open group classes, which follow the ever-changing WOD, or Workout of the Day. These workouts are short and intense, and they foster camaraderie through frequent team circuits. In addition to supervising WOD class, trainers coach members on nutrition, advocating a caveman-style diet of low-glycemic carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats, and lean proteins such as raptor meat.
My Gym, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 20 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level (starting as young as 6 months) and designed to incorporate the latest physiological and psychological research. Tiny Tykes gets babies moving with help from their parents, Mighty Mites teaches toddlers self-reliance and beginning sports skills, and Champions, a class for kids aged 6–9, emphasizes the importance of using teamwork to master more complex sports skills and achieve group goals such as building a human pyramid to reach the cookie jar. My Gym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while stimulating their giggle-plexes. The noncompetitive environment fosters creativity and hands-on activities boost children's learning retention and fun quotient.