The Ritz Ballroom Dance Studio's instructors understand that dancers learn in stages, which is why they utilize the popular Medalist system, where students work toward specific goals at each level. Dancers begin at an introductory stage, where they learn the basic steps of ballroom dances such as the Viennese waltz, foxtrot, and cha-cha, and Latin styles such as bolero or salsa dancing. From there, dancers increase their awareness of each movement, progressing from slow and somewhat unsure to consciously confident—striving to let the dance flow through them without thinking about each step or wondering if Fred Astaire ever tried the worm.
Private lessons give students one-on-one practice time with instructors who move at a customized pace. Students then progress to group classes where they learn to dance with a variety of partners and pick up good dance habits, such as never biting their dancemate's nails. Scheduled dance parties create a relaxed, casual setting for further practice in the studio, which bathes dancers in a dreamy atmosphere complete with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, honey-hued wood floors, and the glittery twinkles of a disco ball.
If variety can spice up life in general, Inhale Exhale Studio's owner Hao Ly figures it's also a great way to keep exercising interesting. She, and her 20-plus teachers, leads a regimen of more than 50 group fitness classes held across all seven days of the week. Students might show up on Sunday and shape glutes in a barre-based fitness class or drop in on Monday to sweat during warm Vinyasa flow yoga lead by Hao herself. Other days feature similar options, as well as multiple forms of Pilates, boot camps, and even the occasional spinning class. To help fend off soreness and aches, Hao says the studio offers Thai bodywork, an assisted form of stretching with many similarities to yoga.
Equipment: Pilates Reformer apparatus, RealRyder bikes
Students should bring: hot yoga towel, bottle of water, yoga mat, spin shoes, hand towel
Average class length: 60-90 minutes
Number of Staff: 11–25
Class location: Indoors only
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Amanda sits cross-legged in a sun-soaked room, still amazed that, eight years ago, a love affair with yoga rocketed her through 200 hours of training and into the ownership of her own studio. She has an updated 1,500 sq. ft. space with 14 new classes including Turbokick, Full Body Blast, and more. During Zumba sessions, instructors lead a small group of exercisers—their hips undulating and limbs snaking during body-sculpting power workouts backed by Latin-inspired music. Barre classes fuse Pilates, yoga, and ballet techniques into a total-body workout, using a ballet barre along with resistance bands and light weights.
Amanda teaches alongside a troupe of passionate instructors. They help students of all experience levels find their groove, teaching more challenging moves to advanced pupils or modifications for those still learning to move in earth’s gravity.
Though its name may conjure fantasies about sprinting down crowded streets or bench-pressing buses stalled in traffic, Urban Active Fitness grants its members abundant space in which to spread out and follow their workout proclivities. At dozens of locations across the Midwest and South, members can sculpt their bodies in whichever manner they choose—from personal training with resistance machines and free weights to group classes in cycling, Zumba, and Pilates. A number of group classes draw on the gym’s urban theme for inspiration. Urban Iron, for example, focuses on building muscles that resemble the cast-iron beams of skyscrapers, and Urban Yoga closely imitates the poses necessary to squeeze onto a subway train at rush hour.
Boleros Dance Club’s upbeat instructors keep classes loose and lively while instilling students with the moves of ballroom, Latin, and swing. They also prep future brides and grooms for their first dance with 10- to 12-week lesson plans and curate dance socials where everyone can mingle and exhibit their spanking new twinkle toes. As a complement to dance lessons, Boleros Dance Club also offers Zumba, yoga, Pilates, martial-arts fitness classes, and an art gallery with monthly rotating exhibits.
Fitworks is home to a dedicated cadre of certified muscle architects who guide eager physiques through intense, small group workouts. Peruse the schedule before sampling a tension-undoing yoga class or a weekend-morning muscle-pump session, ideal for prepping for an underwater bench-press that will determine the office's next round of promotions. One-hour Zumba classes harness the rhythmic power of merengue, conga, belly dancing, and more to kill calories while resuscitating sleepy toes. After classes, students can freshen up or flex unused singing muscles in Fitworks' shower facilities.