When she was 15, Heather had already been dancing for a decade, and she vowed to one day open her own studio. Later, while in school for interior design, she took her first-ever pole-dancing class and found it was love at first twirl; she installed a pole in her own home that very afternoon. Though she worked for a while as a professional designer, she felt compelled to step away from decorating other people's homes to pursue her teenage dream, swathing her newly opened studio space in hot-pink paint and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Today, it's a go-to hub for novice dancers of all ages, sizes, and experience levels and for barber's poles looking to switch careers. While Heather and three other instructors teach belly dance, aerial technique, burlesque, and fitness classes, though Heather's main passion still lies with pole dancing. She finds it rewarding to watch as students—who currently include spinners in their 60s—break past mental blocks to do moves they never thought possible. She grins each time her students report that they're feeling stronger and healthier just doing everyday tasks, like buying anvils at the grocery store. "I don't feel like it's a job," she says, noting the supportive environment created by her students and the joyous bachelorette and birthday parties—where, she maintains, the older guests always turn out to be wilder than the 20-somethings. "It feels like I'm hanging out with friends."
The patter of fists against a punching bag. The bass clang of weights in racks. Cardio and resistance machines from Matrix, Life Fitness and Hammer Strength purr in Soleil Total Fitness’s 20,000-square-foot facility as visitors work toward fitness goals. During more than 45 group exercise classes in three studios, a hush falls over yoga pupils and sweat leaps from the brows of Zumba and kickboxing participants. In the spin studio, stationary bikes help torch calories, and in a boxing and mixed-martial-arts area complete with a 20-foot boxing ring, patrons learn to fend off the punching bag stalking them in their nightmares. The gym’s team of certified personal trainers, alternatively, can tailor workouts to patrons’ fitness goals, whether they are trying to make their high school’s baseball team or the Olympics.
At Brickhouse Cardio Club, an open floor space sets the stage for Zumba classes every day of the week. The floor—designed to ease joint and knee maladies—is merely one aspect of the club's comfortable and supportive atmosphere. At the club, patrons find a combination of dancing and aerobics classes that will help them with weight loss or body toning in the midst of a fun environment.
Essence of Yoga Studio feels like a sacred space. Amid its polished honey-colored floors and warm, earth-toned walls, certified instructors teach Hatha and Vinyasa-flow yoga to students of all skill levels. Believing that the mind is just as important as the body, the instructors help students gain strength and flexibility in an atmosphere of support and acceptance.
Instructors at CrossFit Suffolk work to strengthen their students with kettlebell swings, dead lifts, and cardio exercises. They scale the workout load and intensity to each student’s fitness level, from elderly students to cage fighters.
A ringleader at Venice California’s Muscle Beach, Joe Gold founded World Gym in 1976, creating what would become an iconic spot for Hollywood’s brawniest bunch, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. Today, that gym is a worldwide franchise spanning more than a dozen countries. World Gym in Ronkonkoma comes with all the perks clients have come to expect from the franchise, including a free-weight room stacked with dumbbells, barbells, and plenty of plates. Cardio addicts can head to one of several group classes, such as spotlight cycle, which utilizes stationary bikes for heart-racing, indoor exercise. After a workout, exercisers can grab a towel and a snack or re-energize with a drink from the juice bar.
At Team Extreme Health & Fitness Bootcamp, the word "misfit" doesn't carry its traditional meaning. Instead, it's an acronym that stands for "Military Inspired Sports and Functional Intense Training." Of those six words, it's nearly impossible to choose which is most important—although, intense seems to sum things up nicely. Team Extreme boot-camp-style workouts challenge every muscle in the body. Classes are efficient, packed with energy, and led by a group of motivational trainers turned drill instructors. Those instructors ride the momentum created by the facility's boot camps into various other workout regimens, including sports-specific training, self-defense classes, and even boot camps for brides-to-be.