Hot Box Yoga's cadre of yogis, some of whom have earned their 200-hour certification or spent time learning the art in Asia, helps students foster emotional poise and physical strength. Instructors guide their charges through a schedule packed with yoga styles, including core-forging Ashtanga and time-tested Hatha. Within the studio's 2,200 square feet of stretching space, hot yoga sessions usher toxins out of the body by harnessing the flexibility-boosting powers of warmth in the sun-soaked studio. Those gestating tiny humans can build strength, flexibility, and bottle-juggling skills through gentle prenatal yoga classes.
Treadmills, step classes, and free weights were making Joy Poulsen feel boxed in at the gym. She wanted a fun, up-tempo workout in the fresh air—that's why she created Inspire Fitness Boot Camps. Joy and her fellow coaches lead women in workouts that never let campers stop moving, for fear they'll freeze that way. An emphasis on exercises that emulate real-life movement means bodies can fall into the workout naturally, which makes it both safe and effective.
The joys of a massage or the relief of a chiropractic adjustment?and the stresses of physical work?play out partly in the muscles. Learn just what pumps the body up with Groupon?s guide to the muscular system.
The human body has more than 630 muscles keeping it upright and mobile. They make up almost half its weight and power the movements of the bones, the blood, and even the food in the stomach. Perhaps the most familiar muscles are those seen in bodybuilding contests and facial-expression contests: the skeletal, or voluntary, muscles. They?re attached to our bones and controlled by our brains, which zap them with electrical signals to cause their fibers to contract. During a muscle contraction, filaments inside the muscle fibers slide together, stacking up on one another so that the larger fiber shortens. In shortening, the fibers gain thickness?a phenomenon we notice as flexing. Whatever muscles do, they accomplish by this single pulling action. If a bicep (part of a category of muscles known as flexors) flexes to lift a barbell, it needs a tricep (an extensor), pulling in the opposite direction, to bring the arm back down.
The other two types of muscles are smooth muscles and cardiac muscles, and both are beyond our conscious control. Cardiac muscles control the beating of the heart, contracting the chambers to push blood throughout the body. But the blood doesn?t ride to the toes on that momentum alone. Lining the blood vessels are smooth muscles that help push it along. These also line the esophagus, stomach, and intestine to move food through the digestive track, and can even help regulate the body?s temperature by opening and closing capillaries near the skin surface, all without conscious effort. The subconscious brain is also happy to turn muscles to ends beyond their apparent purpose: for instance, what we experience as shivering from cold is simply the brain causing the muscles to spasm so they will generate heat and keep your blood and any baby chicks in your coat pockets warm.
Inside True Fight Club, many students learn to double their number of striking limbs: muay thai kickboxing, colloquially known as "the art of eight limbs," trains fighters to move beyond arms and legs to utilize their hands, elbows, shins, and knees to battle opponents. The gym prioritizes safety above all else during its 60-minute classes, and so equips sparring pairs with protective pads. Accomplished instructors are also on hand to teach classes in Brazilian jiu jitsu, which emphasizes grappling and bringing a foe down to the mat.
Alternatively, boxing classes cover footwork and maneuvers for offensive and defensive strategies. In addition to practical work, each session includes a workout component with bodyweight exercises that is designed to increase overall strength and prepare contenders for sudden-death sit-up contests in the ring. Regardless of their specialty, the instructors cater their lessons to suit all experience levels and ages. Their after-school programs guide children as young as 5 through self-defense routines, as well as building confidence, fitness, and a sense of discipline. Likewise, adult programs tone physiques and impart poise, whether pupils are seasoned competitors or first-timers.
Tomaj Trenda](http://www.salsawithtomaj.com/about.html) has devoted his life to dance. After receiving a Masters degree in dance education, he has been honing the toe-taps of students everywhere from the University of Washington to the National Ballet of Mexico. Tomaj also keeps his skills and stage presence honed by performing internationally throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. Not content to accept old traditions as law, he has spent considerable post-graduate time training in how to teach new motor skills to adults. When instructing people through dance, Tomaj works with the brain instead of against it. Using a measured amount of repetition, he ensures his students learn and retain the steps from every class. Each lesson builds off the skills of the last, creating a strong foundation on which students stack a repertoire of moves and their hope of beating the Greasers in any sudden dance-offs. Leaders learn various root moves and how to combine and vary those moves to create complex and stylistic dance routines.
Bally enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day membership includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, and Step Fitness (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts an array of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.