In a story by Patch reporter Elizabeth Janney, owner David Sturman described Elkridge Athletic Club as "a friendly gym," stating that “no matter what your fitness level is or what your shape is, you feel comfortable here." The welcoming environment—together with high-energy classes and cutting-edge equipment—may be why voters named the health club as the best local gym in an Elkridge Patch poll.
Each initiation-fee-free, month-to-month membership includes access to the sauna and hot tub along with unlimited group classes. Guests dance to straightforward moves set to Latin beats in Zumba workouts, and combine cardio and mind-body techniques in Hour of Power classes. Members also receive a complimentary personal-training session to design a customized fitness plan or learn to make a black leather purse that looks just like a kettlebell.
The inspiring trainers at each MetaBody location lead troops of workouteers in results-oriented workouts several times weekly. Sweat sessions utilize a variety of exercises and disciplines to produce full-body results in a supportive environment, ideal for beginners and hard-core core-hardeners alike. During any class, motivational instructors will use the instinctual distrust of routine to their advantage. Begin a day of litigating with a refreshing early-morning boot-camp session, or wind down by burning evidence and pounds with a late-evening yoga class. Muscles are kept guessing with new and challenging moves during each session, so participants never fall into a boring, ineffective routine, such as regular teeth brushing. In addition to the fitness classes, students receive a success guide to help prepare for imminent pound loss, a nutrition guide, and a $100 gift certificate for individual coaching. Because the pass sets a 5 or 10-class cap at any given location, roving fitness mavens can further shake up their workout regimens by vetting a series of classes or instructors that work best for them.
At the age of 14, Baltimore Yoga Village founder Anjali Sunita traveled to India, where she discovered the joys of simple living mixed with the sorrows of yearning for a greater purpose. After years of expanding her education and worldview through reading and the guidance of a college mentor, Anjali found peace within the rigid discipline and spiritual focus of a South Indian ashram. Soon setting her mind to sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with others, she taught in private homes and underserved schools before opening her own pair of studios known collectively as Baltimore Yoga Village.
There, a team of certified yoga instructors oversees a supportive community dedicated to peace, health, and spiritual growth. Whereas many studios’ teachers spend too much time teaching students to knit their own mats, Baltimore Yoga Village’s programs focus on the ancient practice of Hatha yoga, which includes deep breathing techniques, yoga postures with attention to physical alignment, and guided relaxation. The staff also leads regular workshops in a variety of topics, from Thai-yoga bodywork to meditation through devotional songs.
After navigating through the plethora of weightlifting and cardio equipment, guests at 40,000-square-foot Meadow Mill Athletic Club stand before a glass wall protecting them from the ricocheting squash balls speeding back and forth on 16 courts. Meadow Mill’s team of squash instructors leads personal sessions and group clinics on the indoor racket sport for youths and adults, and more seasoned players compete in tournaments often held at the facility.
Just beyond the workout floor and racket courts lie separate fitness studios, in which guests tone their bodies in yoga, Pilates, and 17 spin classes per week, led by certified trainers, who also tailor fitness programs to meet clients' needs in one-on-one sessions. Youth and toddler programs introduce kids as young as 18 months old to fitness with playful movements in Mini Movers, basic skills in Ballet, and fitness-focused games in Toddlercise, such as Pin the Javelin on the Donkey. Furthering demonstrating a dedication to health and wellness, an onsite therapist treats overworked muscles with acupuncture, stretch, and massage treatments.
After earning her Bikram yoga instructor certification from the practice's founder in 1999, Bikram Choudhury, studio director Sarah Ittmann traveled the world teaching the 26-posture practice throughout the United States, Canada, England, and Ireland. Now settled in Baltimore, Sarah, her husband Henri, and their team of certified Bikram teachers host daily classes in a 2,000-square-foot space.
Since the hot temperatures—which hover around the 100-degree mark—incite healthy sweating and detoxification, staffers regularly steam-wash the antimicrobial, nonslip floor to keep the studio as clean as Mr. Bubble's standup routine. They also provide men's and women's locker rooms equipped with showers, toiletries, and hair-dryers.
Scroll through the course descriptions to see options available to prospective Charm City stretchers. First-time students will find an especially welcoming atmosphere at Charm City. In Beginner Yoga classes, a slow pace and careful verbal instructions impart the basics of breath awareness, mental concentration, and dodgeball mastery. Charm City’s signature style will have you sweating peacefully and freely: its signature Hot Vinyasa courses take place in 90-degree rooms, designed to loosen up your ropey parts enough to make the stretches deeper, more effective, and much more impressive to any inflexible invisible friends you may have. Other styles taught at Charm City include Ashtanga, which emphasizes dynamic postures, Prenatal Yoga for those stretching for two, the party-atmosphere Rock ‘N’ Roll Yoga, and more. Charm City’s founder, Kim Manfredi, brings 22 years of experience to the mat. Her expertise has been recognized by some of Baltimore’s most athletic citizens—Manifredi has instructed the NFL Ravens since 2004.