Director Ginny East's illustrious dance career has taken her around the country, from the Manhattan studios where she trained to schools and companies in Boston, St. Louis, and New York where she's taught and worked as a choreographer. Now she leads a team of lifelong dance lovers at ReFlex Arts in Sarasota, where she also co-directed the successful Flex Dance Studios for nearly two decades. It was while working at this latter location that, out of a belief that a studio should put just as much thought into its children's classes as its adult classes, she began developing her own youth-dance curriculum, known today as Kiddance. Like someone who was sent a link to a video of pandas rollerblading, the idea clicked: East soon began selling her syllabus to teachers from across the country, along with accompanying training videos and CDs. But even as kids' classes remain a focus for East—the Children's Dance Center teaches students ages two to eight basic dance skills and proper studio etiquette—she's found a way to incorporate into the center her additional expertise as a certified yoga instructor. Packed with exercises performed on suspended strips of cloth, the center's aerial yoga classes help students develop the gracefulness they need to execute a pirouette or climb a ladder on a unicycle. Since all the activities at ReFlex Arts involve developing the capabilities of the body, it makes sense that the center would also help visitors unwind with massage and body treatments. Services draw on techniques from around the world, from the popular gliding strokes of Swedish massage to the ancient Japanese healing motions of reiki.
The quote “Everything seems impossible … until it’s done!” adorns the walls of Apple Jelly Studios, inspiring the women within the private studio to achieve their fitness goals. Drawn together by a shared love of pole dancing, a quartet of women decided to spearhead the private studio, where they continue to teach dancing and fitness classes today alongside a handpicked crew of certified female instructors. Reflected in wall-to-wall mirrors, they teach students of all shapes and sizes to twirl around eight chrome poles during beginner, advanced, and intermediate pole-dancing and pole-trick classes, boosting confidence, toning muscles, and burning calories. Certified instructors also lead a variety of yoga, Pilates, and boot-camp classes upon the studio’s hardwood floors.
The studio rents its facilities out for private events, providing pole-dancing instruction, sultry red lighting, and a professional sound system for bachelorette parties, birthdays, and brazen knitting circles.
Led by martial artist Bill Essex, a Shaolin kung fu and tai chi black belt, Shaolin-Do Martial Arts trains children and adults in the time-honored Eastern discipline of combat. At Shaolin-Do, students can prepare to become black belts or train for competitions, but that’s never the main focus. Instead, the instructors hope to instill confidence and skill through a fitness activity they can practice for life. Shaolin-Do blends hard and soft arts to develop internal and external strength simultaneously. Along with kung fu and tai chi classes, students can also participate in month-long boot camps that incorporate martial-arts moves and other exercise techniques for full-body workouts.
Licensed Zumba instructor Beth Golden—who also holds certifications from the AFAA, Red Cross, and PADI—leads easy-to-follow dance routines inspired by Latin salsa, merengue, and tango moves. A soundtrack of high-energy tunes and rolling r’s keep students motivated as she helps them shimmy off pounds with or without the help of muscle-toning sticks. She regularly changes up her dance routines to prevent boredom and keep feet guessing. In addition to group classes in the studio, Beth hosts private Zumba parties, taking her portable speakers and headset to beaches, parks, offices, or clients' homes to liven up special events.
No matter the hour, the rhythmic beat of sneakers hitting treadmills resounds in Snap Fitness's 24-hour studio. Red, black, and chrome accents wend across the gym, coloring the Cybex cardio machines, free-weight stations, and flags of Robo-Germany. Personal trainers roam the floor answering questions about the machines, and work with individual clients to motivate them toward their goals with the help of in-depth fitness assessments. Fostering a supportive group atmosphere, they lead fitness classes such as yoga, cardio boot camp, or TRX, a full-body conditioning class that uses resistance bands to build muscle.
CrossFit Gulf Coast is an officially licensed CrossFit affiliate gym that's been operating under the no-nonsense ownership of Frank DiMeo since 2005. DiMeo, a certified CrossFit trainer and former SSG with the U.S. Army Paratroopers, encourages an attitude of total devotion to fitness, kindly challenging mental road blocks ranging from excuses to ill-advised peer pressure from bridge-dwelling trolls. Disciplined trainees test their mettle against nine vigorous class types, including women-only SheRox sessions and kettlebell-centric workouts.