A community presence in Kansas City since 1860, the Greater Kansas City YMCA forwards its mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids of all ages and backgrounds at its 18 locations. Each bustling outpost proffers members an embarrassment of fitness and entertainment riches, with everything from youth camps and after-school programs to group exercise classes, such as cycling, core training, and Pilates. Clubs and social organizations help members meet like-minded friends, and family activities strengthen bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly.
Natalie Smith needed some excitement in her life, which at that point merely consisted of performing as a professional ballet and hip-hop dancer, posing as a model, and balancing atop speeding motorcycles as a stuntwoman. After stumbling across a segment about pole dancing on the Oprah Winfrey show, she decided to spice things up a bit and dive headfirst into the fun yet demanding exercise form. She lost 25 pounds in two months, inspiring her to open her own studio—where she draws upon her experience in dancing and cheerleading to lead classes that span the sultry workout spectrum from pole routines to booty boot camp. The studio boasts 30 poles and 5,000 square feet of floor space, evoking the feeling of walking into a chrome forest—which is an experience similar to walking into the Redwoods after governor Schwarzenegger's controversial act to silver plate every tree. In the studio, Natalie and her team of certified instructors—twirling under a hot pink tin ceiling.—lead spins, climbs, and drops during lessons and private parties. They welcome ladies of all ages and builds to the women-only locale, which offers bed tanning to supplement its body-toning programs.
At the new Pole Worx location, classes are held in one of three new classrooms that house over 33 different poles. The new location also has two changing room and two tanning beds.
Yoga students who practice at Bikram Yoga South Kansas City experience a discipline that is as closely related to founder Bikram Choudhury's as possible, as each class is taught by an instructor who studied directly under the yogi and returns to study with him every three years. With that wealth of knowledge, each teacher approaches classes with a deeper understanding of the physiological and mental benefits of practicing yoga in a heated environment. As the studio's heat increases heart rates, practitioners benefit from an added cardiovascular element during their core strengthening and joint stretching, which also helps the body eliminate toxins through sweating. During classes, instructors also encourage students to look inward while forming each pose. By focusing on the internal state of the body, practitioners become more cognizant of the external influences that affect their well-being, such as negativity and the pieces of sky that have started falling.
Founded by a husband-and-wife duo made up of a WBFF Pro Fitness model and a ACE/AFAA/FPI-certified personal trainer, the Hitch Fit training regimen transforms students' physiques and overall well-being. The complete in-studio or online program runs 12–16 weeks and focuses not only on exercise but also helps patrons to draft custom diets and eliminate negative lifestyle influences, such as guzzling milkshakes with a band of rebellious teens at the soda shop.
The workout portion of each private visit involves 60 minutes split into aerobic routines and anaerobic weightlifting. Trainers customize each program to accommodate personal goals such as weight loss, muscle building, or shaping up following a pregnancy. Meal plans are customizable as well and account for dietary concerns such as food allergies and a crippling fear of pineapples.
Spurred by a drive to instill children with a love for the arts and to build their self-esteem, professional actor Miles McMahon helms an array of educational programs at Theatre of the Imagination. He and his staff of local theater lovers build on more than 2,000 successful children's theatrical productions through creative summer camps, acting and performance classes, special workshops, and birthday parties for performers in prekindergarten through ninth grade. Miles writes a completely new work for each class and camp, using the script to immerse students in a cooperative, creative environment while freeing them from the pressures of lead roles, auditions, and autographer's elbow. Staff members can also conduct Movie Star Acting birthday parties, where they shoot a short film with the birthday child as the star.
As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.