Heather Rossio thinks confidence is sexy. That’s why she founded Studio X Pole Fitness—to help women to feel comfortable in their own skin. Here, experienced instructors show students of all levels how to move their bodies with power and grace. Intro to Pole sessions acquaint first-time twirlers with metallic dance partners through basic stretches, grips, and noninvasive icebreakers. Students can then move on to Beginners Pole courses that teach simple spins and transitions, as well as strength training and calorie-torching floor work. The staff recommends that attendees take at least two basic courses before graduating to Intermediate Pole's lessons on climbing the pole, sitting on the pole, and prepping for upside-down inversions. Advanced Pole classes—at the top tier of the pole pantheon—ready tricks, inversions, and spins for gravity-defying routines or actual moonwalks. Additional classes include Chair X-Fit, which tightens the core, hips, and thighs in 50-minutes sessions, and cardio-packed, dance-heavy Zumba classes. To glide and shimmy effortlessly and comfortably, guests are encouraged to don form-fitting shorts and tank tops.
Within the colorful walls of the Academy for the Performing Arts' 10,000-square-foot facility, enthusiastic instructors instill confidence in the leaders and creative thinkers of tomorrow. Kids benefit from small class sizes and a high teacher-to-student ratio during dance classes such as tap, ballet, hip-hop, and cheerleading, or half-day preschool programs that incorporate dance, music, and visual art. Kids aged 2–4 fine-tune their gross motor and social skills while older children can prepare for recitals or become members of the center's dance company.
The academy also keeps parents in shape with adult fitness classes such as boot-camp sessions led by a personal trainer or high-energy Zumba workouts. The crew hosts children during a bimonthly parents' night out that allows adults to take some well-deserved time for themselves and finally engage in a critical debate of Kung Fu Panda.
Amber Turner-Weeks has been dancing since the tender age of 3. A passion for movement led her to explore many facets of dance such as its history, improvisation skills, and child development. After graduating with a dance degree and a concentration in private studio teaching, Turner-Weeks traveled with the Meredith Dance Theatre and toured with the North Carolina Dance Festival. As the owner and artistic director of DanceArt, she now has the opportunity to transform her positive childhood memories into memorable dance experiences for students of all levels, ranging from toddlers to adults.As the mother of a young daughter, Turner-Weeks aims to create a noncompetitive environment where children feel safe and have room to explore their talents. She tells students, "Whatever experience and path you take in life, dream big and always make the most of what life has to offer you.” A team of caring instructors encourages parent interaction, teaching kids self-discipline and confidence in a variety of classes and at annual recitals and other events. The family-oriented facility boasts four spacious studio rooms with disco balls and shock-absorbing sprung floors, cheerful turquoise and purple couches, and a two-way-mirrored area where parents can observe youngsters in action without distracting them with proud victory dances.
Laced with elements of yoga, Pilates, and gymnastics, the women-only classes at Aradia Fitness sculpt lean, toned physiques. And though physical fitness is a cornerstone of the studio, it's not the only one. Classes such as Striptease and Lap Dance foster a certain amount of unrestrained confidence that, as Aradia puts it, “teach[es] women to unapologetically love their body and themselves.” At 17 locations across the country, Aradia's staff of certified instructors, including world-record holder Amanda, lead women of all shapes, sizes, and experiences through sessions ranging from pole-dancing classes that teach aerial lifts and holds to Sexy Fit classes that forgo the pole for yoga fusion, boot camp, and lap dancing. No matter the class, the environment at Aradia is always light hearted, nurturing, and more supportive than a stainless-steel hammock.
Endorsed by Tony Dovolani of Dancing with the Stars fame, the consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Cofounded by the legendary toe tapper Fred Astaire, the school specializes in low-pressure private sessions that allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the cha-cha. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and foxtrot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur fire-walking.