Since its inception in 1916, the YMCA of Greater Miami has opened its doors to whoever needed it. It welcomed African American youths during the Great Depression, hosted military personnel in the 1940s, and gave Cuban refugees a home in the 1960s. Today, it continues the tradition of depolarizing Miami's fractured populous, remaining a haven for people of all faiths, races, ages, and income. Staffers uphold the YMCA’s core values of honesty, acceptance, and fairness as they ensure each location is a safe place for members to play, exercise, and strengthen family bonds weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly. YMCA of Greater Miami also raises much-needed funding for kids and families who can’t afford the full cost of any of YMCA’s progressive programs.
At the current locations, kids can leap into activities ranging from swim lessons and youth sports to afterschool programs and day camps. Adults, meanwhile, can take Zumba, boot-camp, and aquatic fitness classes or work out within wellness centers replete with strength-training and cardio equipment. Adult basketball and indoor speed-soccer leagues further help guests flex their competitive spirits in an encouraging environment.
My Gym, which currently has more than 200 international locations, began more than 30 years ago as a structured place for children to safely play, acquire new skills, and romp off a sugar buzz. All classes are organized according to age level—starting as young as 6 months—and designed to incorporate the latest physiological and psychological research. Tiny Tykes gets babies moving with help from their parents, Mighty Mites teaches toddlers self-reliance and beginning sports skills, and Champions, a class for kids aged 6 to 9, emphasizes the importance of using teamwork to master more complex sports skills and achieve group goals such as building a human pyramid to reach the cookie jar. My Gym's energetic instructors are experts at using music, dance, and gymnastics to build youngsters' strength and self-esteem while stimulating their giggle-plexes. The noncompetitive environment fosters creativity, and hands-on activities boost children's learning retention and fun quotient.
Lady of America Women's Fitness Club spreads female-focused wellness across the nation by furnishing each of its franchise locations with equipment and classes designed with women's bodies in mind. Each locale stocks a strength-training area with machines sized specifically for the feminine frame, and ellipticals and stationary bicycles help to chisel gams without transporting users across state borders. Instructors conduct such group classes as kickboxing, belly dancing, and Zumba aboard a floating aerobics floor, whose softened surface diminishes stress on joints. Throughout each facility, personal trainers patrol public zones to acquaint guests with exercise gear or host one-on-one sessions. Depending on the location, clubs might also include complimentary onsite childcare, brow dabbing, and amenities ranging from infrared saunas to manicures.
Recognizing the interdependence of fitness and martial arts, Thump Fight Gym & Fitness Center married the two, inspiring patrons of all ability levels to hone their combat skills while making strides toward an overall healthier lifestyle. The trainers and certified exercise physiologists lead martial-arts classes including boxing, muay thai, and jujitsu, challenging fighters to face off in the regulation-size boxing ring or the half cage—which has proven inadequate for housing feral exercise bikes. During each class, students burn calories and learn practical and potentially lifesaving self-defense skills. To supplement the combat training, the instructors also lead yoga and Pilates classes, spinning, kettlebell training, and CrossFit classes. The gym also accommodates solo workout routines with a weight-training zone and functional fitness equipment such as oversize tires and climbing ropes.
On the surface, Susan Hilferty appeared to be living the American dream—a promising position as a pharmaceutical rep, plus an upcoming marriage. But for a woman who grew up studying at The School of American Ballet and dancing on stages including Lincoln Center, selling pills felt empty at times, and Hilferty found her need for physical expression growing stronger. While visiting a friend in Los Angeles, she took her first pole-dancing class, and almost immediately, her life took a new direction.
Though she faced resistance from friends and family, Hilferty saw in her classes how pole dancing transformed women—giving them new confidence, encouraging them to overcome insecurities, and helping them heal from past traumas. She called off her wedding, continued taking classes, and eventually opened Pole Fitness Miami. Today, she and her team of trained ballerinas lead pole-dancing and dance-based fitness classes at two locations. Ranked on CBS Local Miami's list of Best Places For Unique Workouts, the boutique surrounds saunterers with purple walls, subdued lighting, and gauzy curtains to create a sultry atmosphere. Additionally, Hilferty and her crew help students obtain pole-dance certifications, as well as arrange pole-dance parties so groups of damsels can strengthen their bonds or celebrate becoming volunteer firefighters.
Dona Piza left her life as a New York stockbroker behind when she turned to yoga to rehab herself from a terrible car accident. On the first of the new millennium, she opened Prana Yoga in Miami, eager to impart the healing powers of the art to an area where yoga studios were a rare species. She says that the most fulfilling aspect of her job is observing how yoga transforms students mentally and physically, as was the case with a dear friend with cerebral palsy who—through regular practice of yoga—gained the ability to walk.
At her studio, she schedules more than 70 90-minute yoga classes per week for students of all skill levels, whether they are working through injuries or honing their practice. Inside the four spacious rooms, drenched in soft lavender hues, she and her experienced instructors lead a variety of yoga styles, mainly based in the Iyengar tradition, which focuses on achieving proper body alignment with the aid of props. They also lead serenity-enhancing meditation classes, vigorous core yoga, and relaxing candlelit sessions, which help students melt away the stresses of the day. During kids' classes, instructors teach yogis aged 4–9 basic poses using animal imagery and sounds, giving parents time to attend their own yoga classes or to secretly eat dessert before even making dinner.