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.
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.
Music Together cultivates a warm, welcoming community of children and their adult counterparts in 45-minute music classes, which introduce developing brains to grooveable tunes with an accommodating schedule. A friendly instructor trained in teaching, music, and impersonating tubas leads up to 12 Beatles-in-training through structured musical explorations, helping little ones to test out rhythms on drums, keep time on triangles, and belt out songs. Newborns to 4-year-olds co-mingle in the same classes, creating an open environment in which younger tykes mimic social skills and musical talents modeled by the older children. Parents and guardians participate in the classes, sitting cross-legged on the floor with their mellifluous youngster, socializing with other adults and intermittently showing off their yodeling skills.
For more than 30 years, the senseis behind Martial Arts America have filled the minds and fists of students as young as 4 years old through adulthood with the focus, discipline, and confidence that comes from studying self-defense. The instructors lead five martial-arts forms—tae kwon do, eskrima, jujitsu, krav maga, and CDT training, which stands for compliance, direction, and takedown—helping patrons strengthen their bodies and minds. This multidimensional program trains students in defensive tactics such as strikes, grappling, throws, rolls, and using fighting sticks to protect innocent civilians from rogue baseball-pitching machines.
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."