Despite the strengthened core she’d gained while obtaining a Pilates certification, Jennifer Martin found her balance and flexibility taxed when she attended her first ever hot-yoga class. Now, she heads Bodhi Hot Yoga, where students chart the same progress through Vinyasa-style poses tweaked to cultivate toned muscles and increased balance. Performed in heated studios that encourage detoxification and increased pliancy, hot yoga sessions also help students of all fitness levels promote weight loss, increase vitality, and reduce pent-up stress. Classes take place multiple times daily, with private sessions available upon request.
Rick Eggert can take the heat. During his daily labors in front of a 2,400-degree furnace, he gathers wads of molten glass on a metal rod in order to stretch, cut, and bend the glowing silica into eye-catching forms. Eggert received his BFA in glass sculpture over a decade ago, and has since traveled from his native New York to Tahiti, New Zealand, Thailand, and finally Florida, where he founded Lotus Design Group. There, he oversees a small production line where he practices both centuries-old Venetian techniques and more modern approaches to the form to create pieces both for commercial sale and to fulfill his own artistic inspiration. Additionally, Eggert leads a variety of classes that explore these techniques through a hands-on approach, where students learn to craft their own bowls, vases, and stone-proof glass houses.
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.
In 1998, breaking free from the shackles of the business world, Art Institute of Chicago graduate Carolyn Gordon left her Midwestern home and sojourned southward to pursue her dreams. Intent on making watercolor painting and jewelry design her full-time gig, Gordon touched down on Florida’s Treasure Coast, where she flung open the doors of her eponymous atelier, Carolyn Gordon Watercolor Studio, steps from the Port Salerno marina. Within its pastel pink and green exterior, Carolyn’s ethereal, brightly colored paintings bedeck the walls, and Carolyn herself leads classes that impart the watercolor techniques of TV's Terry Madden to groups of 10–12 students.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions 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.
The late artist Joe LaPierre often dreamed of opening a studio where anyone could come in and learn to paint with the help of friendly, experienced instructors. The artist's children, Sarah and Jesse, realized his legacy with Alla Prima Creations—named for the Italian phrase for works of art that are begun and finished in a single session. The center offers classes five days a week where students learn to replicate a bright, cheerful painting. The calendar gives pupils a wide range of artwork options, any of which students can learn to replicate on their own 16"x20" canvas. Students can tote along a favorite beverage or snack—which allows for a relaxed classroom environment as students sip on wine or nibble crackers while they create fanciful scenes of artists sipping wine and nibbling crackers. For a change of medium, lass-painting sessions give students the opportunity to customize champagne, margarita, and wine goblets with abstract designs.