Absolute Fitness for Women’s east and west locations serve as temples of dedication, where focused staff members help women of all ages to achieve their fitness goals in specialized, dedicated facilities. Both exercise studios boast areas with a specific purpose, whether it’s the cardio and weight-training rooms or the aquatics center featuring a large pool. Students 2 or older plié and prance through ballet lessons and jazz and hip-hop classes in a dance studio, and mirrored suites with hardwood floors house Pilates equipment such as reformers to help with major core conditioning.
With such ample square footage, Absolute Fitness for Women manages to combine fitness furnishings with a number of other services. Members relax and unwind in spas concealed in the locker rooms, and a child-care area is available. After an intense workout, visitors can replenish burnt calories with a snack in the bistro. Medically knowledgeable trainers also offer extensive physiotherapy services for a range of conditions, such as lingering injuries, headaches, dizziness, and neck and back pain. They utilize diverse techniques such as hydrotherapy (in-pool exercise) and electrical muscle and transcutaneous nerve stimulation, which is accomplished by building up an electrical charge while rubbing one’s head into shag carpeting.
Where can future brides and grooms sample a piece of Sylvia Weinstock cake, admire the latest Vera Wang couture wedding gown, and get Bobbi Brown beauty tips, all under one roof? At venues from Los Angeles to New York, where The Wedding Salon founder, Tatiana Byron, has organized a one-day luxury wedding showcase boasting some of the top vendors in the industry, introducing big-day ideas from top area vendors such as The Registry at Bloomingdale's, AMResorts, Lancome at Bergdorf Goodman, The Container Store, Magnolia Photo Booth, and celebrity wedding experts. Each event is designed to make attendees feel like guests at a sophisticated wedding, only the fellow partygoers might be celebrity wedding planners David Tutera or Colin Cowie, or dessert connoisseurs from Carlo’s Bakery —the bakery behind TLC’s Cake Boss.
Byron has been cultivating her all-star connections for more than a decade. After working at Turner Broadcasting System and directing sales, marketing, and production for a trade-show company, she created her own planning company, 4pm Events. Byron began coordinating parties for famous faces including Joan Rivers, Mary J. Blige, and Lionel Richie—no easy task, given the limited number of vendors willing to build dance floors on the ceiling. Byron went on to create The Wedding Salon expos to give future brides a taste of celebrity-caliber elegance. She also offers educational wedding boot camps that help duos avoid hidden costs and learn tips for planning their special day. Byron's services have been highlighted in numerous media, including features in the New York Times, the New York Post, and Fortune Small Business.
As a former national-level figure skater and ISSA-certified personal trainer, Jessica knows what a full-body burn feels like. However, she didn't know that a stationary bike could replicate the feeling, until a fellow trainer encouraged her to climb aboard a RealRyder cycle. Jessica became a devotee after just two rides. Determined to share her newfound passion with others, she gathered a team of certified instructors, populated two studios with RealRyder ABF8 bikes, and opened their doors to prospective pedalers of all fitness levels.
Inside Ryde For Life, Jessica and her staff host 45- to 60-minute classes synced to each teacher's music playlist. They lead stationary teams atop RealRyder bikes, whose specialized frames allow riders to lean, bank, and steer as they would an on-road bike. In addition to pumping up cardiovascular systems, sessions engage the core, upper body, legs, and the scalp muscles that hold helmets in place.
Co-owners Cindy Mastry and Jen Lowery forged the studio's varied yoga curriculum by alloying their extensive training histories. Cindy set off toward inner peace in the 1960s, holding poses alongside her grandmother. Combining her early experiences in yoga with years of dance and fitness training, she opened a home yoga practice and joined the Exalted Warrior Foundation to bring yogic healing to injured military personnel. Jen Lowery studied under several yoga masters to perfect her technique. She deepened her practice by completing an 800-hour Yoga Traditions Philosophy course, led by lauded expert Georg Feuerstein, in a single day.
Despite their rigorous training, Cindy and Jen tend to emphasize the relaxing, fun aspects of yoga through classes in Vinyasa flow, stretching, and partner work. Their own 200-hour course for aspiring yoga teachers imparts the values of 8 Limb Vinyasa flow, covering anatomy, pose sequencing, pedagogic techniques, and ways to climb spider webs without alerting the spider.
The gym looks like equal parts Olympic training facility and old warehouse—here, exercisers hoist themselves up rows of pull-up bars, grunt around a collection of kettlebells, and hop through jump-rope routines. On a power-lifting platform, a lifter explodes from a squat, hoisting a plate-loaded bar up to his shoulders and then dropping under it to catch the weight over his head. Elsewhere, athletes do dips on gymnast rings and build a sweat on rowing machines.
This low-tech setting is typical of all true CrossFit gyms. Though the equipment may be basic, the results are not: CrossFit workouts develop all measures of physical fitness—from power to cardiovascular endurance—through workouts that are broad, general, and inclusive. This approach is often described as specializing in not specializing: it develops physical fitness in ways equally beneficial to everyone, from professional mixed martial artists and police officers to weekend softball players.
CrossFit gyms typically start clients in a foundational program where trainers teach the basic movements, such as the squat, dead lift, and pull-up. Every exercise is scalable to a version that clients can complete—a pull-up, for example, can be scaled back to a negative pull-up, a static hang, or body-weight row with gymnast rings. It can also be scaled to a more challenging version, such as the kipped pull-up. After students learn CrossFit's basic movements, they move on to open group classes, which follow the ever-changing WOD, or Workout of the Day. These workouts are short and intense, and they foster camaraderie through frequent team circuits. In addition to supervising WOD class, trainers coach members on nutrition, advocating a caveman-style diet of low-glycemic carbohydrates, monounsaturated fats, and lean proteins such as raptor meat.
At Pole Dance Miami, honored as 2010’s Best Gym Alternative in the Miami New Times and featured on NBC Channel 6, dance poles host a dizzying array of spins and twists in more than 40 weekly classes that unite high-flying exercise with feminine sensuality. Passionate instructors lead one-hour classes in sundry styles for patrons of all skill levels, from the sultry sways of Beginner 1 to the Vixen class’s foxy spin combos. The fuchsia studio’s floor-to-ceiling wall of mirrors assists patrons in achieving proper form during mat stretches and twists, and its hardwood floors are tuned to make pitch-perfect music when struck with stiletto heels. Ladies can flock to the studio en masse for pole parties, during which instructors lead partygoers in basic moves to celebrate bachelorette parties, birthday parties, or high-noon tea parties.