When Omar Morineau was 17 years old, a local businessman named Cal handed him an airbrush and car-paints, entreating the teenager to “learn how to use ‘em.” The self-taught youth was soon plastering flashy graphics on sports cars, and before long had moved on to custom surfboards and his own mural business. Then he thought he’d get some higher education. A stint at L’Acedemia di Belle Arte in Florence informed his expressive technique, which ranges from anatomically accurate, occasionally surrealistic oil paintings to stylized graphic designs for bands, businesses, and the lemonade stands of overly ambitious five-year-olds. Today, when he isn’t laboring on his latest commission, the enterprising artist promotes creativity through classes for all ages, with early-childhood sessions aimed at fostering a love of creation and workshops for older students focused on launching careers in two-dimensional and computer arts.
Lavender walls evoke a tranquil dusk sky as students and yogis make the transition through the ancient poses of the Hatha, Ashtanga, and Bikram traditions. Here, experienced teachers guide groups toward states of intense focus and increased physical fitness with a series of stretches, bends, and deep-breathing exercises. An emphasis on safety abounds as the instructors help students align their bodies properly, and padded, Zebra floor coverings absorb joint pressure that would otherwise build up in knees and backs until it took over bodies and forced them to be spokespersons for aspirin.
The schedule of classes meets students of all skill levels where they live. Easy-going Vinyasa classes weave poses and breaths into a graceful, dance-like sequence, and more demanding Bikram sessions explore 26 classical poses in a 95-degree room, which helps loosen muscles and oust pent-up toxins. After class, students retire to an ADA–compliant changing room, where they can bask in showers and relax like a kitten reclining on a pillow made of sunbeams.
As strobe lights slice across the stage, masked dancers descend from scaffolding and undulate to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance.” Minutes later, a troupe of 6-year-olds takes to the same stage in traditional Indian shalwar, or loose trousers, and launch into a frenetic dance set to fast-paced bhangra music. These divergent routines—performed at Mona Khan Company’s student showcase—hint at the scope of dance styles that instructors bring to their classes. Though traditional folk and classical South Asian dance make an appearance, instructors also incorporate styles such as salsa, modern, and hip-hop.
This Bollywood dance philosophy has propelled Mona Khan Company into the national spotlight. The company’s professional dance troupe has performed with Bollywood demigod Shah Rukh Khan and dancer Shaan, and dazzled a live audience on America’s Got Talent.
Though classes at Mona Khan Company occasionally lead to professional dance careers, the studio strives to make Bollywood dance accessible to every aspiring dancer. For example, Jollywood dance classes train performers age 65 and older, and the Jeena program trains special-needs students. “It’s more than just dance,” says Ms. Shankar, the company’s dance captain. “We try to build a whole community around it."
The fitness instructors, personal trainers, and nutritionists at ClubSport wield the foundations of total-body wellness: detailed knowledge and cutting-edge equipment. Group classes such as cardio kickboxing, cycling, and circuit training showcase routines for all fitness levels, seven days a week. Personal-training sessions, meanwhile, bring help exercisers develop their own fitness plans and face down the imaginary knight that guards every piece of weight-training equipment.
ClubSport also transforms bodies outside the fitness studio and weight room. A self-described resort-style aquatic center features several lap and exercise pools where swimmers can fine-tune their breaststrokes and favorite shark calls. At an on-site spa, massage therapists ease muscle tension with modalities ranging from hot stone and prenatal to trigger point and reflexology.
Koko FitClub Smartraining system, which debuted in Entrepreneur magazine's 33rd annual Franchise 500 rankings, gives patrons personalized control over their own fitness with 30-minute custom workouts at automated stations. Each person's tailored regimen begins with a body-composition test, which helps trainers to build a program based on weight loss, toning, or whale-wrestling goals. Staff members then load workout plans onto the client's Koko key, which plugs into Smartraining machines. The workout equipment greets guests by name and instructions steer limbs through a medley of strength and cardio maneuvers, all of which take place at a single station. Because the system stores each visitor's progress, workouts adapt daily to keep muscle groups from starting a fight club out of boredom. A personal website tracks fitness data for at-home viewing.