Erica Dixon recognizes that not everyone is a professional dancer, including herself. During her Zumba classes, she motivates students to break a sweat with aerobic choreography that dancers of all levels can catch on to quickly, leaving the pro moves to the tiny ballerinas trapped in jewelry boxes. In addition to Latin styles such as salsa, merengue, and samba, she infuses routines with moves from some of her favorite styles, including hip-hop, African dance, and belly dance.
Erica's passion for helping others get a handle on their health is inspired by her own life. Though she'd always been active, when she started working at a fast-food joint before her senior year of high school, she packed on 25 pounds. Despite knowing that if she didn't get fit she was at risk for developing type 2 diabetes—like her father did—, she continued to gain weight until she saw him injecting insulin into his stomach. Terrified by the thought of having to use needles, she became dedicated to new habits: eating fruits and vegetables, walking laps around the track, and counting calories. She left college 10 sizes smaller than when she enrolled.
To continue pursuing fitness, Erica convinced a local gym manager to give her a membership in exchange for cleaning treadmills for three hours a week. She reveled in the fit-centric atmosphere and realized she wanted to make helping others get into shape her career, so she signed up to be a Military Recreation intern in Sicily. When she returned home, she earned six gold medals at the USA Jump Rope Nationals and helmed her own fitness center for two years. She's now the director of campus recreation and wellness at her alma mater, North Carolina Central University, and inspires students to shimmy off pounds in her Zumba classes in addition to training other instructors as a Zumba choreography specialist.
D-Source Sports Performance and Fitness founder Ivan Jenkins—a former All-American collegiate and professional basketball player—marshals an experienced squad of certified personal trainers, therapists, and yogis that fight alongside clients in their calorie-burning battles. A cap of 100 active memberships at a time frees up equipment and allows instructors to focus on individual patrons. Guests rev up hearts, tone muscles, and build endurance in 10 different fitness and aerobics classes such as the intense full-body boot camp, the midsection-molding Ab & Glute Blast, or the Dancer's Workout that blends ballet, hip-hop, and Broadway jazz like a Juilliard student who hasn't declared a major.
To soothe overexerted anatomies, licensed therapists send stress packing with massages and reflexology treatments, which boost circulation, infusing uptight limbs with oxygen. Therapists perform the treatments in private rooms in an effort to maintain clients’ modesty and ensure minimal distraction. Reflexology treatments strategically apply pressure to hands, feet, and ears, reducing inflammation of the joints, enhancing detoxification, and displacing unfashionable stick-on toe rings.
Miriam Catron discovered a way to combine her love of music and athleticism—in 1997, she created Infuzion, a family-friendly center dedicated to art in all its aspects that furnishes interactive opportunities in music, theater, dance, and martial arts. Miriam selects enthusiastic and impeccably trained teachers to help students to thrive in their chosen field of study, whether they’re wielding a viola, executing a high kick, or performing a monologue on the secret lives of monologists. To round out the center's skill-instilling potential, a fitness studio hones able bodies with its arsenal of workout machines and spacious aerobics rooms that pulsate with a thunderous sound system to give soul shakers a reason to boogie outside one’s bedroom confines.
Practice makes perfect, especially at Bikram Yoga Durham, where each class follows the exact sequence of 26 hatha yoga postures designed by Bikram Choudhury. Espousing this mantra, instructors come to class armed with their 500-hour Bikram training certifications. Held in a 105-degree studio regulated by eco-friendly heating and air-purification systems, the courses begin with standing postures and transition into mat poses, a progression that works the entire physique more effectively than performing jumping jacks on a treadmill. Students of all fitness levels can jump into the toasty fray, exercising as the heat detoxifies systems, enhances flexibility, and increases heart rates for a cardio workout.
Inside SYNCSTUDIO's cycling room students stand on stationary bicycles, moving their upper bodies in time with one another and the music in an effort to tone their cores and strengthen their legs. Meanwhile in the yoga studios, students move through poses designed to reduce stress, build strength, and burn calories. Other programs offered—including kettlebell training, TRX-suspension classes, and circuit training—aspire to promote total-body wellness. In addition to these fitness programs, sports nutritionists onsite can tailor individual diet plans to help members keep their bodies as harmonized and balanced as a tightrope-walking barbershop quartet.
Husband-and-wife team Eric and Valine Zeigler strive to transform fitness into a party with their high-energy Zumba classes. The pair makes attendees sweat with easy-to-follow dance moves set to invigorating Latin tunes. With a consistent series of Zumba workouts, patrons can shed pounds or win at job interviews with their stepping skills.