Ancient Himalayan singing bowls and the calming tone of a gong envelop The Conduit Center’s space as individuals lie comfortably on pillows and blankets, letting the deep vibrations and soothing sounds lull them into a deep meditative state. These sound-meditation concerts are just one aspect of the center’s meditation services, which are designed to create a state of effortless relaxation for each participant. Guests can also opt for vibrational sound massage and singing-bowl sessions, both of which use vibration and sound to calm the entire body while boosting mental focus, helping the body heal while making ordinary soup bowls seem sadly inadequate.
In addition to meditation, the center conducts yoga, tai chi, and qigong classes that are both challenging and accessible to all levels of participants. Complimentary herbal teas, massage therapy, and individual or marriage counseling are also offered as part of the center's goals to create a tranquil environment where each individual can quell anxieties and start a personal journey of self-exploration.
Within Stone Age Rock Gym's indoor facility, 4,500 square feet of textured climbing walls help visitors ascend to new heights. Bouldering, 32-foot lead routes, and top-rope climbing areas await gym guests, surrounding them in technicolor handholds that creep up the walls at challenging angles. Elsewhere, a simulated ice-climbing wall absorbs the blows of axes, and a gear shop preps climbers to ascend walls with the dexterity of Spiderman.
A staff of certified guides lead classes that teach students as young as 6 the fundamental skills needed to ascend simulated peaks. Alternatively, the experts head up guided climbing trips to sites across the state. They help eager climbers scale the 30-foot Wolf Rock in Mansfield Hollow and reach the Sasquatch hugs awaiting them atop Ragged Mountain's 120-foot cliff.
A former cubicle dweller, studio director Natasha Grove knew she needed something that could rejuvenate her tired mind and stiff limbs. Though she emerged from her first Bikram class feeling sweaty and somewhat shell shocked, she began to feel her body grow stronger and her mind become sharper with each subsequent class. Before long, she found herself headed to Palm Desert, California to become certified through Bikram Choudhury's nine-week program and forge a new, healthier path through life. Today, she shares her downtown studio with a staff of other instructors, all of whom stretched and persevered through Bikram's rigorous teacher-training process. While the classroom's stifling temperatures may sound too intense for some students, the practice caters to guests of all experience levels, as the heat helps even the stiffest muscles and arthritic snowmen melt into the deep, detoxifying stretches. To keep things comfortable, Natasha and her staff have bottled water and electrolyte drinks available for sale, and have equipped the studio with spa-like changing rooms, complete with men's and women's showers and comfortable beauty vanities.
An octopus graphic greets visitors at the doorway of Downtown Yoga Studios. It's an appropriate image: the mollusk holds a meditative quality as its eight arms flow outward with a strong yet relaxed energy. Downtown's instructors help guests attain a similar state of serenity and fitness with multiple styles and levels of yoga, such as Go with the Flow, Relax and Renew, and Power Yoga. They also lead fitness classes that include cycling, boxing, and chicken chasing.
Dance Art CT's experienced instructors have competed and taught around the world in dance styles such as international standard, Latin, salsa, and Argentine tango. They offer group and private dance lessons for beginning and advanced dancers, as well as lessons for children.
Visitors never have to wait in line to workout at Cardio Express—each of the six clubs boasts a ton of Cybex strength-training machinery, an arsenal of free weights, and more than 80 pieces of cardio equipment affixed with personal 15-inch television screens. Compassionate instructors imbue gym visits with a human element as well, leading classes such as Core Fusion, Total Tone circuit training, and spinning sessions at the Southington, Vernon, and Manchester locations. Each year, the staff members carry the same motivational energy they use in their studios to recruit members and friends for the Multiple Sclerosis Bike Tour. Cardio Express has raised a grand total of nearly $400,000, and it also acts as title sponsor for the 2012 benefit.