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.
BounceU Sarasota welcomes kids to descend upon an inflatable, climate-controlled playground where they can bounce and ricochet in safety. Along with birthday parties and group outings, BounceU hosts open-bounce sessions that let sock wearers of all ages imagine they're synchronized leapers in a futuristic moon performance as they carom around the inflatable stadium, expending energy with every leap. Adults are welcome to act like 8-year-olds and join the vivacious youngsters in the playground. The inflatable arena also opens its buoyant doors to creative-themed bounce camps and programs, where boys and girls spend half their time with brain-bolstering projects such as creating their own painted masterpieces or learning to reprogram the remote to skip all news channels. After stretching the limits of their imaginations, kids then spend the other half of the day stretching the limits of their limbs on the inflatable playground.
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.
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.
Sarasota Wind and Water Adventures gives adventurers the vessels and knowledge to plunge boldly into the surf, providing paddleboard, kayak, and waterski rentals as well as lessons. Fishing trips set sail for open water with a Coast Guard-certified captain and all of the tackle necessary to hunt for kingfish, triggerfish, and the vengeful ghosts of scuba divers, while sunset cruises let passengers experience the wonder of voyaging directly into the heart of the sun.