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.
To help women achieve their fitness goals, the certified personal trainers at Get in Shape for Women focus on four areas: weight training, cardio training, nutrition, and accountability. Each of their small-group sessions are tailored to each exerciser. The trainers modify exercises to suit up to four ladies' fitness levels, beginning by calibrating 30 minutes of strength-training drills—such as free weights, lunges, and squats—to each student's abilities. Then, they do 25 minutes of cardio—the trainers might start beginners with a walk on the treadmill or light elliptical training, and challenge more advanced exercisers to high-intensity interval-training sessions for increased results.
The trainers supplement group workouts with nutritional planning centered around the concept of eating six small, balanced meals six days a week. They set aside the seventh day for a bit of indulgence, be it eating a favorite sweet or lusting openly after bacon. To track ladies' progress toward reaching their goals, the trainers measure their weight and body-fat percentage every two weeks.
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.
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.
Tease Fitness Boutique isn’t a gym, and it isn't quite a dance studio. It’s a nonjudgmental fitness studio where women of all shapes and sizes can shimmy, slide, and kick calories—along with the monotony of standard workouts—to the curb. With a schedule filled with burlesque, flirty pole-fitness, boot-camp, and cardio classes, Vertical Tease tempts gals to enjoy their exercise routines, as the staff know that sticking to a workout, like playing catch with a baby black bear, can become difficult after a few months. Classes rotate every six weeks and are always kept small so that instructors can lavish each participant with personal attention.