Invoke Yoga & Pilates sprang from a friendship that formed when Ali Staloch, a certified yoga teacher, took a class from Heather Liguore, a certified Pilates instructor. The two ladies were led to combine their talents and create a fitness haven where students can work their cores, enhance their flexibility, and cultivate inner peace within one building.
During hot-yoga classes, experienced teachers shepherd students through 26 ancient poses within 95-degree heat that works to loosen muscles, oust toxins, and scare off devious snowmen masquerading as yogis. In addition to guiding pupils through power-flow yoga and em-power yoga, they'll demonstrate basic poses and modifications in beginning yoga courses designed for rookie contortionists. On the other side of the coin, instructors fluent in Pilates lead sessions that incorporate mat-based isometric exercises and low-impact movements on Reformer machines, working to strengthen core muscles. The teacher, who may be Liguore herself, circulates through the room during group classes, sharing words of motivation and tips on form and alignment.
Open 24 hours, this 33,000-square-foot facility has something for everyone, boasting a multiarea layout that includes a hardwood-floored studio for its more than 25 group fitness classes, a separate area just for spinning, and a punching-bag-lined zone devoted to mixed martial arts and free weights. While tots play in the Kidz Club area, members can work out on the state-of-the-art machines, swim laps in the 60-foot pool, challenge friends to racquetball, or hone Richard Nixon impersonations in the sauna.
Since its 1965 founding in Venice Beach, California, Gold's Gym has dotted the globe with more than 600 locations where professional athletes and exercise newbies gather under the umbrella of personal strength. Nearly 3.5 million Gold's members chart and aim for their fitness peaks, perspiring beneath the gaze of certified personal trainers or pedaling beside peers at cycling sessions. In a diverse lineup of group classes, patrons strengthen cores with Pilates, finger-paint pictures of ninjas in martial arts, and amp up heart rates along to the pulsating soundtracks of Les Mills routines. Many Gold's Gym locations stockpile futuristic amenities, such as cardio machines with individual iPod docks and televisions that help keep patrons motivated.
When Monica Wason moved to Salinas, she was in the midst of planning an addition to her family. Though she soon discovered that there were no prenatal health venues near her new home, she was undeterred. She decided that she'd simply open one herself, and founded Green Belly as a wellness center for fellow pregnant women. Soon, her clientele expanded to include postnatal and non-pregnant women as well as men, prompting Monica to broaden her efforts. She funneled her experiences as a nurse and massage therapist into pampering services, and hired a teaching staff to help lead yoga, Pilates, and belly-dancing sessions. Today, she continues to welcome guests from all walks of life into Green Belly's lime- and cream-colored rooms to fulfill their wellness needs. As sun beams through the studio's skylight and bay windows, her aestheticians work to brighten faces with Jadience skincare products. She exclusively stocks the spa with organic products, complementing the center's nature-inspired décor while also honoring the trees who taught her slow-breathing techniques.
Greg Molkentin may have found inner peace through yoga and meditation, but that doesn't mean he likes to sit still. As the yogi behind Yoga With Greg, he shares his favorite yogic style - the flowing movements of vinyasa - with students throughout the week. Sometimes, he does this in a classroom, but, twice monthly, he also leads yoga-based hikes into local parks. He and his pupils climb the sandy dunes of Bakers Beach to catch glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge before mimicking the architectural marvel with their bodies. Alternatively, they find watery ocean vistas between the trees in Land's End park, where they let the asana flow like the waves.
And even on these outdoor excursions, a large part of Greg's practice remains focused on meditation. Beyond his 200-hour yoga teacher certification, he also has 15 years of meditation experience with eight years of retreat practice in Kyoto, Japan.
Helping guests feel comfortable is Body Zone Health & Fitness Club's main concern. The center has a variety of checks in place to make sure that new customers are given the guidance they need to get the most out of the gym. To help them, personal trainers are paired with newcomers during their first month of membership, working together to figure out what each guest's body needs. Once oriented, guests can work out on their own or in a group, choosing from a lengthy list of group fitness classes that range from total body conditioning, salsa, fit after 50, and stress-reduction yoga classes. To make sure that current members are also taken care of, Body Zone offers a variety of amenities such as childcare, massage, and nutrition.
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes longed for a children's gym that prioritized personal growth over competition. Unveiled at a time when physical-education classes pushed students to focus almost exclusively on winning, Robin's program was swiftly adopted and is now used in more than 300 Little Gyms worldwide. Robin still pens original music to accompany lessons, which engage whippersnappers aged 4 months to 12 years with gymnastics, dance, karate, and parent and child activities.
Each of The Little Gym's classes introduces simple movements that sharpen motor skills and set brains whirring, allowing kids to progress at their own pace until they can finally build a computer out of macaroni and glitter. Staff members strive to build a base for lifelong social skills and self-assurance with each exercise, including activities rooted purely in fun, such as summer camps or birthday parties, which helped The Little Gym to earn title of #1 Birthday Chain in Parents Magazine.