At the age of 14, Baltimore Yoga Village founder Anjali Sunita traveled to India, where she discovered the joys of simple living mixed with the sorrows of yearning for a greater purpose. After years of expanding her education and worldview through reading and the guidance of a college mentor, Anjali found peace within the rigid discipline and spiritual focus of a South Indian ashram. Soon setting her mind to sharing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with others, she taught in private homes and underserved schools before opening her own pair of studios known collectively as Baltimore Yoga Village.
There, a team of certified yoga instructors oversees a supportive community dedicated to peace, health, and spiritual growth. Whereas many studios’ teachers spend too much time teaching students to knit their own mats, Baltimore Yoga Village’s programs focus on the ancient practice of Hatha yoga, which includes deep breathing techniques, yoga postures with attention to physical alignment, and guided relaxation. The staff also leads regular workshops in a variety of topics, from Thai-yoga bodywork to meditation through devotional songs.
"Unity in motion." That's the motto of SYNCD-N owners Howard and Dawn Lindsay, and it's not lip service?it's literal. That's because the husband-and-wife duo deal exclusively in tandem bicycles. "Riding a tandem bicycle requires a team to communicate thoroughly, to trust each other...and to lean on one another when one team member gets tired," they share on their website. This shines through in both their commitment to each other?which has been strengthened since they took up the sport?and to their customers, to whom they offer trial rides. The rides familiarize the customers with the skills necessary for navigating a bicycle together, from peddling in sync to leaning in the same direction in order to dodge puddles full of tears from lonely unicyclists.
The EO in EO2 Wellness Spa & Oxygen Bar?s name stands for Energy Oasis, which hints at the spa's purpose: healing people through energy. In its clean, comforting environment, therapists work to balance minds and bodies by cleansing clients of toxins, strengthening their musculoskeletal systems, and relieving their stress during a range of treatments. Whole-body vibration and far-infrared massage beds with jade rollers use energy and motion to relax and tone muscles, whereas reflexology and shiatsu foot massage offer a more human touch. At the oxygen bar, visitors inhale concentrated, oxygen-enriched air that produces a natural high as it works to purify the lungs and bloodstream and fan the inner wood-burning furnace that keeps each of us alive.
Heidi Lamar didn't know much about spas when she first purchased Spa Lamar. As she explained to reporters from Skin Inc., "not coming from a spa background, there were things I didn't know I couldn't do." Unhindered by industry conventions or previously fixed ideas, Heidi set about filling her 14,000-square-foot spa with innovative amenities—from a luxurious waterfall-fed pool to an onsite yoga and dance studio. She also cultivates locals instead of the typical resort crowd, banishing cacti from the decor in favor of a Caribbean-style ambiance that, as she told the Arizona Republic, caters to those who already live in Arizona and want to get away to a tropical island. Today, her media-lauded spa is the largest privately owned spa in Scottsdale and is frequented by locals, including members of the Phoenix Suns Dancers.
Before treatments that include massages, acupuncture, mani-pedis, and facials, guests garbed in fluffy complimentary robes duck into the steam room. They sample wholesome lunches and fruit plates from the tropical tea bar and relax in the sauna while waiting for a haircut or warm algae wrap. Sunbathers float around the pool on loungers, whereas others simmer in a bubbling whirlpool. Unlike many traditional spas, Spa Lamar is completely coed, making it an ideal place for couples that are on a first date or permanently trapped together inside a horse costume with a broken zipper.
Jacqui Bergmann had a lot to contend with—a divorce, depression, and a two-packs-a-day smoking habit. As she drove her son to the gym, she wondered what she should do to turn her life around. As it turns out, the answer was at the gym. Watching her son take a boxing lesson, Jacqui decided she wanted to give it a try. She traded her cigarettes for boxing gloves and felt her negative thoughts fade away to be replaced by a sense of confidence and empowerment.
Today, as owner of Glove Game Boxing, Jacqui gives guests this same feeling of empowerment through 30- and 60-minute boxing classes. Her team of trainers holds group and one-on-one lessons for men and women of all ability levels and goals, whether they just want to get in shape or to compete in amateur or professional circuits. They teach the same exercises used to drill the gym's pro pugilists—students learn about punching combinations, for example, and the importance of throwing at the X on King Hippo's stomach. The trainers emphasize proper form and technique so participants get the most out of each workout while minimizing the chance of injury. They also offer special training packages, including parent-child, postbaby, and wedding-day-countdown boot camps. To keep clients focused on the training and not the paperwork, Jacqui forgoes things such as long-term contracts and membership fees.
Although La Vita E Bella Cafe is physically distant from its Italian roots, it preserves one of the most important parts of home: the coast. Seafood infuses its menu—from appetizers of garlic-marinated octopus to the Siciliana pizza, topped with tuna, onions, kalamata olives, and capers. The kitchen's emphasis on freshness persists beyond its sautéed prawns, though. Owner Giuseppe Forte heads out multiple times a week to purchase groceries for his chefs, ensuring that their bruschetta and pollo cacciatora contain crisp veggies and fresh herbs. Then there’s the crepes—three kinds enveloping such Old-World ingredients as champignon mushrooms and prosciutto di parma.
Yet it’s pizzas that form the base of the menu. More than 20 specialty-topping combinations include the salsiccia, which boasts sausage and broccoli, and the gorgonzola, which mixes its namesake cheese with walnuts. As diners match their slices to a selection from the sprawling wine list, they can tune in to the lilt of live accordion music, which evokes the ambiance of Italy's streets and keeps dates from trying to fill conversational pauses by reciting their favorite Matlock plotlines.